Turn the Lieutenant Governor's office into the People’s office.
We must reclaim our democracy and fight for what we know is pono – for the ʻāina and those who call Hawaiʻi home.
As I launch my campaign for Lieutenant Governor of Hawaiʻi, I would like to share what brought me to this place. Our journeys always begin with our families.
My mom was 5 years-old when she was imprisoned for being who she was – a Japanese American girl, living in California. Her parents crossed the Pacific Ocean for a better life as cantaloupe farmers in the Central Valley. That’s what they were doing, when my mom, her eight siblings and my grandmother were forced into an internment camp in Poston, Arizona.
Because my grandfather was a successful farmer (referred to as the “Cantaloupe King”) the government kept him locked away in different camps in different states for those three years.
When my mom’s family was finally released, they returned back to the family farm, to their tiny two-bedroom house. My mom recalled that they had to sleep outside until the family that had been living in their home decided to leave.
When I was younger, I didn’t hear the shame and injustice woven through her stories. It wasn’t until I was 23 years old when I was subjected to discrimination for just being who I was that I finally understood.
One of my employer’s corporate clients called her at home to inform her that I was transgender and they did not want to work with me; my employer put that on me and I was constructively terminated.
I was shocked; despite my mom’s own experiences, she taught me that hard work is rewarded. I learned that the laws at the time protected employers to allow them to discriminate against me, and others like me. I woke to what social injustice was and how it impacted my ability to pay my rent, buy food and support myself. It changed the course of my life. I realized I needed to go to law school and learn about the law — then fix it.
I developed a deeper understanding of where that sense of shame comes from when we are targeted for discrimination sanctioned by the government. When we have a representative democracy, of, by, and for the people, the government’s actions are in our name. Through our silence we are complicit. So when there is injustice, we have a duty to raise our voices and be heard.
Today, corporations spend millions in Hawaiʻi to elevate their voices at the State Capitol. I want to make sure the voices of the people are heard – their concerns and their solutions. We must reclaim our democracy and fight for what we know is pono – for the ʻāina and those who call Hawaiʻi home.
We have an opportunity to turn the Lieutenant Governor’s office into the People’s office.