East Hawaii News

Former Legislator Named New P.R. Chief at UH-Hilo

January 11, 2013, 6:16 PM HST
* Updated January 11, 6:21 PM
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A former veteran lawmaker from Hilo has been named to replace Gerald De Mello, the longtime University of Hawaii at Hilo public relations chief.

Jerry Chang, a Democrat who served 12 terms in the state House of Representatives, took over today as director of university relations.

De Mello retired on Dec. 31 after 21 years at the post.

Chang announced in June that he would not seek re-election to another two-year House term. At the time he was the longest-serving state legislator.

His announcement came after a redrawing of political maps by the state Reapportionment Commission meant Chang would have to face incumbent Rep. Mark Nakashima for re-election.

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While in the House, Chang served as chairman of the Tourism and Culture Committee from 2001-2007, chair of the Higher Education Committee from 2007-2010, and, most recently, chair of the Water, Land and Ocean Resources Committee.

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Chang was always seen as a strong supporter of UH-Hilo. Part of his new duties will involve legislative matters.

Chang graduated from UH-Hilo in 1978 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and was a medical specialist with the US Army’s 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) where he reached the rank of sergeant.

He has also been active in numerous community, professional and business organizations.

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UH-Hilo Chancellor Don Straney said he was glad to have Chang as part of the university’s administration.

“Jerry brings with him familiarity with the UH System, a broad range of legislative experience, and a thorough understanding of public policy issues, including the state’s budgetary process,” Straney said. “I am confident he will move into this position and make progress with little or no lag time.”

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