About | Bio

A Message from Senator Russell Ruderman

As your Senator, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Energy & Environment, and member of the Water and Land,Education, and Ways and Means Committees, I have been diligently working on the issues that will most affect the constituents of Senate District 2.  I represent the people of Kea’au, Pahoa, Kalapana, Kapoho, Kurtistown, Mountian View, Glenwood, Volcano, and Pahala and would like to hear from my constituents.

My staff and I are committed to improving our communities, and we are happy to hear from you and address your questions or concerns. If you have any questions, need assistance or more information regarding a particular issue, please do not hesitate to contact my office.

Russell Ruderman



“¢ Created over 150 jobs in successful small business

“¢ Founder & President, Island Naturals Markets

“¢ Local business community leader and innovator

“¢ Proven record of thriving under difficult economic circumstances

“¢ Member: Environmental Management Commission; UHH Performing Arts Center Advisory Committee

“¢ Past member: Solid Waste Advisory Committee; Agriculture Committee.

“¢ 28-year full-time district resident

“¢ Demonstrated political involvement in community

“¢ Promotion of local agriculture and value-added food production

“¢ Ability to work collaboratively with diverse people and build consensus

“¢ Strong leadership capabilities

“¢ B.S. Biology, Penn State University

“¢ Community leader in environmental issues

“¢ Intervenor, Public Utilities Commission first Integrated Resource Planning hearings, 1990

“¢ 2007 Small Businessman of the Year, Hawaii County

Political Activity

Member, Democratic Party

Member, County Environmental Management Commission

Served on the Hawaii County Solid Waste Advisory Committee (2008-2010) and Agriculture Committee (2008), and on the UHH Performing Arts Center Advisory Committee.

In January 2011, Russell was the first choice of the Democratic Party for nomination to a State Senate District 2 vacancy.

Ran for Hawaii County Council twice, in 1992 and 2006. In 1992 received 33% of votes in a 3-way general election, losing to Helene Hale.

Resident of Puna district for over 28 years. Homeowner and full-time resident of Hawaiian Paradise Park.

Consistently involved in local politics, including environmental initiatives and in the alternative energy field.

Was instrumental in the passage of the Hawaii County’s Plastic Bag Reduction Bill, 2011.

President of Waawaa Community Association 3 years, and active in the former Puna Community Council. 1988-1992

Lead Spokesperson, Big Island Rainforest Action Group. This group organized the largest demonstration in Hawaii Island history, in Wao Kele O Puna rainforest. Gave keynote speech at rally to over 1,000 people. Led the official visit to Gov. Waihee’s office. 1987-1991

Intervenor, Public Utilities Commission, initial docket on Integrated Resource Planning, 1990. Promoted renewable energy policies through P.U.C.

Russell Ruderman was the first choice of the Democratic Party Caucus when an open seat occurred in Jan. 2011. He has run for Council twice in the past.

A 28 year resident of the district, Russell is founder and owner of Island Naturals Markets, which has created over 150 jobs on the Big Island. He has also served on the County Solid Waste Advisory Committee, and currently serves on the County Commission for Environmental Management. Long time residents will remember Russell from his work with Big Island Rainforest Action Group and various environmental issues over the years. More recently Russell advocated for the Plastic Bag Reduction Bill, which became law.

Russell represents the Puna district in the state legislature with an emphasis on crucial issues such as education, transportation, renewable energy, and agriculture.


B.S. Biology, Pennsylvania State University, 1975, with honors.
Overbrook H.S. 1971 Philadelphia, PA
Independent study and numerous seminars including consensus-building, Robert’s rules, computer systems, management training, business skills, and conflict resolution.


Manager, Real Food Company, San Francisco, CA 1977-1985

Owner, Island Naturals statewide sales brokerage, Pahoa HI 1987-1998

Founder and President of Island Naturals Markets, a group of four stores on the Big Island, founded in 1998.

Has created over 150 Big Island jobs, and employs a very diverse staff.

In 2007, named Small Businessperson of the Year for Hawaii County by Small Business Association. Criteria included growth in business, overcoming adversity, community involvement, job creation and others. Nominated by Bank of Hawaii.

Island Naturals:

Supports through donations and activities various school programs and health initiatives.

Supports education with an innovative teacher discount, the only one known in the nation.First in state to use compostable disposable containers, offers highest known rebate to encourage reusable bags.

Island Naturals is the largest customer for many local farms and value-added food producers.Winner of the first Keeping it Green Hawaii award from Recycle Hawaii, awarded to three of our stores.The Island Naturals model of business is based on collaborative relationships among staff, suppliers, and customers. This company value has produced quality working relationships and sustained growth.Island Naturals, with Russell’s leadership, expanded and thrived during the recent recession.

Island Naturals Markets are Hawaii’s greenest markets. The company was the first in the state to implement several green initiatives. Island Naturals is Hawaii’s biggest seller of local organic produce statewide.


Avid nature photographer.

An active musician, Russell is a member of Latin dance band El Leo, the Jarican Express (a kachi-kachi band), and founding member of classic rock band Terrapin Station.

Sailed to Hawaii in 1985 on a small wooden sailboat from San Francisco. This boat had no motor and Russell used a sextant and celestial navigation to find the islands a 25 day adventure.

PADI certified scuba diver.

Daughter, 20, a college sophomore and Hilo High School Valedictorian Class of 2010.

Russell with daughter Kate & granddaughter Claire