Kobayashi was born on April 10, 1937 and was raised in Honolulu. She graduated from Brown University and Northwestern University and returned to Hawaii after her studies.
Kobayashi served in the state Senate from 1981-1994.
District 5 consists of a portion of Kapahulu and Kaimuki; Palolo Valley, St. Louis Heights, Manoa, Moiliili, McCully, Kakaako, and a portion of Ala Moana and Makiki.
Kobayashi was a member of the Council from 2002 to 2008, when she ran for mayor and lost to Mufi Hannemann. After Duke Bainum died in office, Kobayashi won the special election to finish his term.