Who am I?
I am the current U.S. Senator from Hawaii. I previously served as the Lieutenant Governor of the State of Hawaii from 2010 to 2012. Before that, I was the CEO of Helping Hands Hawaii, one of Hawaii’s largest nonprofit social service agencies, delivering goods and services to people in need across the state. In 2006, I was a founder of the Draft Obama (Hawaii) Campaign and was Chairman of the Democratic Party of Hawaii, through which I helped to build a more progressive and practical brand of politics. I also served as a member of the Hawaii State House of Representatives for four terms, where I focused on public education, economic development, and the environment and sustainability.
Why am I running?
I jumped into politics at an early age. I first got involved as an activist, working to build a coalition to protect a pristine stretch of Oahu coastline from development. A few years later I ran for the state house because I saw so many problems and issues affecting my neighbors and community that I knew we could do better on. We needed to protect our environment, expand our renewable energy production, educate our children, and care for our seniors, and I saw public service as a way to devote myself to real and profound change in those areas. I still believe that is true. I know that in conjunction with a pragmatic approach, progressive values can move this country forward, and I want to continue our state’s tradition of providing a powerful progressive voice in the US Senate.
I wake up everyday thinking about the future of Hawaii. For me, the two most important things we can focus on legislatively to create a better future for Hawaii families are 1) fight climate change so our children have a sustainable and healthy planet to live on, and 2) build and sustain a strong middle-class.
Climate change is real and it threatens our way of life. There is no escaping the facts. The United States must take the lead in addressing this threat by encouraging sustainable and renewable energy production. I have drafted legislation that will ensure that those who send carbon pollution into the atmosphere have to pay for the pollution they cause.
We also must rebuild our middle class. For too long our working families have been squeezed by growing costs for college, healthcare, and daily necessities, while their paychecks have not kept pace.
In order to strengthen our middle class we need to make our economy work for families. That’s why I have co-sponsored new legislation to provide stronger protections for pay equity for women so that families in Hawaii are paid fair wages. I have also co-written legislation to help make college more affordable by creating standards for institutions to receive federal funding, and joined Senator Harkin to co-sponsor legislation that would increase social security benefits and put the program on stronger financial footing by raising the cap on taxable earnings.
My DFA Values
In Hawaii, generations take care of each other. In my own home, my mother-in-law, Ping, and my father-in-law, George Kwok, live with my wife Linda and me. Linda and I help support Ping and George, and they help us out with our kids. Understanding the value of community is who we are as a family and is central to who I am. Throughout my career, I have sought to defend our most vulnerable populations. I believe that strong communities create strong people. As CEO of Helping Hands Hawaii, I helped provide community-based care for those in need, those who struggle with mental illness or addiction, and language services.
I believe every individual should have the freedom to create their own destiny. The time has come to make marriage equality a reality for Americans around the country, so that all people can exercise that right in freedom and without restriction. I was proud to be on the frontlines of the long fight to bring marriage equality to Hawaii, as Chair of the Hawaii Democratic Party and as Lieutenant Governor.
Liberty is one of our country’s most valued democratic rights. I am committed to making sure government does not encroach on our citizen’s privacy as a central part of that right. That’s why my first vote in the U.S. Senate was to prevent reauthorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act because it failed to provide transparency, accountability, and reasonable limits on the government’s surveillance.
My Campaign is People Powered!
Our campaign will have a strong grassroots organizing operation. We will have volunteer offices on several islands, and dedicated staff to help engage volunteers and work with them to contact voters.
While serving as Chairman of the Hawaii Democratic Party, I helped to increase voter registration and party membership across the state.
During the recent special legislative session on marriage equality in Hawaii my campaign delivered nearly 8000 signatures to the state legislature on petitions supporting marriage equality.
We have also engaged our supporters through online activism on many other issues that are important to advancing the progressive cause nationwide, from renewing unemployment benefits to equal pay for women.