I was raised by my grandparents in a plantation home in the Japanese Wai‘anae Plantation Camp. My maternal great grandmother was the midwife for the plantation and my maternal grandfather was the plantation carpenter and my paternal grandfather was the plantation fisherman. He had the nickname, “Sanpan Joe.” His boat was confiscated during World War II and he was sent to internment in Santa Fe, New Mexico. My Muroda grandpa was sent ultimately to Honouliuli and I was born after the war.
Still, my grandma Muroda always said never to forget “Okage sama de” and I do not believe that I truly understood these words until I looked back upon my amazing political career. This girl from Wai‘anae has been in elected office for 18 years and during that time, served as the first woman President of the Hawai‘i State Senate and in the halls of Congress as a U.S. Representative. This is all, “Okage sama de.”
Though, everyone’s first concern, of course, is the pandemic virus and the unimaginable challenges that come before us … an economy to rebuild; jobs to be restored; children and küpuna to care for and protect; and most of all finding new and innovative ways to keep our communities safe and healthy, we must never forget the basic values which we were taught and raised with because this is how we will collectively come out of it. We must put aside our differences with age, color, spiritual and political beliefs and work together with love of family for a better tomorrow.
My grandmother also taught me the values of “gaman” and “shikataganai.” Shikataganai has not been a favorite word of mine but in this time of COVID, it is relevant. If we accept that it is here, then we can move on. Gaman is what I was taught to handle situations which I had no control. I did not realize how much this concept has become ingrained in me and forms the basis of how I have stood up at the right times to battle wrongdoings. I have come to believe that my grandmother meant gaman now and a time will come for change.
I believe as I have taken my journey to be your mayor; the time has come. We have no time for a learning curve or someone who has to learn how government works on the job. Honolulu needs someone who stands ready from “Day One” to put our citizens first and foremost. I know for us to survive this pandemic, we need to first restore public confidence in our government. I hope that with my experience, record and leadership, everyone can conclude experience matters. I have worked with all levels of government, federal, state and city and stand ready to serve.
A great compliment which I received, though not deserved, from a docent at Honouliuli “after reading your grandfathers’ stories I understand why you are the way you are. I know that I could never do what they did. They epitomized gaman and shikataganai.” I don’t know if we are made of the same stuff like my grandfathers and my friend’s Dad from Wai‘anae Elementary who received the Medal of Honor with Senator Inouye. Senator Inouye told my friend ”I fought for a country that didn’t want us and so you would never have to witness war again.” He not only carried the burdens of war but also the shrapnel in his body until his death.
In these times, we need leadership based on values which define us. I humbly ask for your support and that I will bring your values to City Hall. After all, I am who I am, okage sama de.