I’m often asked about why I ran for office. It’s a story that began early in my life with my Dad.
My Dad is originally from Japan, and ended up in Alaska working in the fishing industry. I was born in Alaska and growing up I recall my Dad listening to NPR, reading Newsweek and watching the PBS Newshour with Jim Lehrer. I didn’t realize it, but I developed a keen interest in government, policy and politics.
I decided I wanted to become a teacher.
I went on to earn my Bachelor’s degree in Education at Linfield College in Oregon, with the goal of teaching. I continued my education and earned my Master of Education at Chaminade University while serving in Teach for America Hawai’i. I went on to work for the Department of Education as a third grade teacher at Fern Elementary.
As a teacher, I taught during our infamous Furlough Fridays debacle.
I read and followed the debate at the State Capitol intently. The more I learned, the more I grew frustrated, and the more I became active. I ran for my Neighborhood Board and won. I got involved in other elections and spent a summer interning with the Governor’s office.
In 2012, I decided it was time, and I ran for public office.
I was elected to the Hawaii State House of Representatives that year. I proudly represent District 27 which includes the Nuuanu, Liliha, Alewa Heights and Puunui neighborhoods. I took office in November 2012.