Life goes by so fast.
I was born on December 21, 1974, the year of the tiger.
I remember my mom making me read books and study math and English as a toddler and up to grade school. She did the same for my younger sisters. My mom taught me education, love, and kindness.
As a little kid, my sister Mia and I would be in the back seat of the car counting cars by color. During Christmas, we would count the Christmas lights.
In 1985, when Chicago had the hit song, “You’re the Inspiration,” Mia and I would sing it. I remember packing my baby sister Lara who must have been around four years old, on my skateboard and the wheels ran over my fingers making them bloody. She went to get help, but never came back. When I got home, I think she was eating ice cream or maybe a snack and forgot about me. That was funny.
My dad taught me discipline, education and hard work. He coached sports and volunteered in many organizations for us. His family always came first.
I remember 6th grade, I became determined to improve my soccer playing skills, physical strength, and speed because I wanted to be on the top teams. I would train day in and day out until it got dark. I reached many of my goals for soccer. My intense training continued. I retained this intensity years later when I ran for political office. Also, I was a Lieutenant in the JPOs for Pearl City Highlands Elementary School.
High school was a great experience. I played all four years on the varsity soccer team at Pearl City High School.
In 1990, I lost my cousin after he collapsed at school. He was only twelve years old and I miss him. He was a great swimmer and had the potential for many things. Someday, I will see him again.
At Pearl City High School, I participated in Interact Club, marching band, even computer club although I didn’t know much about computer programming. I tried to have good relations with everyone. I knew the rough kids, the athletes, and the smart kids. At the suggestion of my English teacher, I started acting in theatre and some commercials up until right before I entered law school.
In 1992, I graduated from Pearl City High School. I lost my grandpa, Maurice Karamatsu just before I graduated. I got closer to him after he died through politics. Even now, sixteen years later, I am still approached by people who knew him. That summer, I got my first job working in the warehouse for Duty Free Shoppers. After about a month, I worked for their flightline division until 1996.
I entered the University of Hawaii at Manoa in the Fall of 1992. I enjoyed taking a variety of courses and participating in a number of college organizations. In December of 1992, I attained the rank of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scout program.
In 1994, I lost my aunty, she passed away in my cousin’s arms. She was so positive and had the most beautiful smile.
In the Fall of 1994, I saw a cute girl in the cafeteria at the dorms. My friend told me to attend a camp if I wanted to meet her. I did and we ended up dating. We broke up in 1995.
In 1995, at the age of twenty, I set my goal to enter politics. I came up with a platform and strategy for Hawaii and my country in my head.
That Spring, I rode my moped to see my grandpa Tadao Sakai and my grandma Ellen Sakai. My grandpa is the kindest man I have ever known. He was asleep when I was leaving, but somehow he woke up and asked me if I was going already. He repeated this statement several times. I could tell he didn’t want me to leave. A day or so later, they went to Kauai for a high school reunion. My grandpa suffered a stroke. I would visit him at the hospital and eventually his care home.
I finished my first written draft on my platform to better Hawaii and the United States in 1996. That year, I also typed out my strategy to enter elected politics in the State of Hawaii in the 2002 elections and I began my database of contacts. In 1996, I ran and won a seat as a Senator of ASUH (Associated Students of the University of Hawaii at Manoa). In 1996, I campaigned for my Councilman, Arnold Morgado for Mayor of the City and County of Honolulu. Unfortunately, he lost to Jeremy Harris. In 1996, I also campaigned for my State Representative, Nobu Yonamine and he easily won his re-election. That year, I also joined the Honolulu Japanese Junior Chamber of Commerce and the Young Democrats.
In 1997, I won the Vice President seat for ASUH and was appointed on the Pearl City Neighborhood Board. I volunteered for Representative K. Mark Takai that Fall. On December 21, 1997, on my 22nd birthday, I graduated from the University of Hawaii at Manoa with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science.
For the 1998 Legislative Session, I worked for Rep. K. Mark Takai as a committee clerk for the Higher Education Committee. I helped Rep. Takai in passing the college savings plan bill. I campaigned for my former State Senator, Ben Cayetano for his last term for Governor of the State of Hawaii. He beat Maui County Mayor, Linda Lingle. In the summer of 1998, I left for Washington State to attend Gonzaga University School of law. Whenever I came back home to Hawaii, I would visit Grandpa Sakai and talk to him even though his stroke affected his memory. He passed away in 1999. I strive to be like him.
In the Spring of 2001, before I graduated from law school, I lost my grandma Ellen Sakai. She wanted to be at my graduation. Through her I learned to be mentally strong. She was funny. Throughout college, she wanted me to be a medical doctor, but I told her I didn’t like science and math. When I told her I wanted to be a lawyer. She responded, “Ah lawyers are a dime a dozen.” She wanted one of her grandchildren to be a doctor because I think she had so much respect for doctors. My sister Mia fulfilled her dream. She was so happy when she got into medical school. When I told her I wanted to be a politician, she told me, “How can, nobody knows you, You have to work your way up like Jon Yoshimura (Honolulu City Council Chair and he did ‘Ask a Lawyer’ on Channel 2 News). When I told her what I was going to be in politics, she would laugh away. In the Fall of 2001, I got my Hawaii law license and became a member of the Hawaii State Bar Association. I briefly worked as a lawyer and then worked for Senator Carol Fukunaga in the 2002 Legislative Session.
In 2002, I implemented my 1995 political goal and 1996 typed-out political strategy by running for the Hawaii State House of Representatives. I won a four-way primary. All the unions supported one of my well-known and much older opponents. The insurance companies and realtors supported another older candidate. The third candidate was four years older than me and I thought we were going to split the same support in our district. No organization endorsed me. I raised over $16,000 through my database I started from college and I spent only about $13,500 in my State House race. I was fortunate to have won with the support of my family and friends. I was 27 years-old and excited about my political career.
In 2002, I also started my Internet retail business. From 2002-2005, I served as Vice Chair of the House Tourism and Culture Committee. During that time, I also served on the Agriculture Committee, Economic Development & Business Concerns Comiittee, and Finance Committee. I was part of the House leadership as a Majority Whip from 2004-2006. From 2005-2006, I served as Chair of the House Economic Development & Business Concerns Committee. In addition, I served on the Agriculture Committee, Tourism and Culture Committee, Judiciary Committee, and Consumer and Commerce Committee.
On April 1, 2006, I lost my last grandparent, grandma Bessie Karamatsu. She attended many of my political events and was my biggest supporter. I made an effort to go with her to a number of Jodo Shu events. She didn’t say it but I could tell she was happy I showed interest in my history and culture. It was because of her, I got in touch with the teachings of compassion. I finally understand the meaning of life, and I am typing and applying my strategy to tip the balance towards happiness and away from sadness. I also want to tip the balance towards compassion and away from anger. Through this strategy, when applied by many people, a balance tipped towards peace can be achieved.
At the end of the 2006 Legislative Session, I was awarded Legislator of the Year by the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly. In the Summer of 2006, I received my real estate license. On the night of October 11 and the early morning of October 12, 2006, I couldn’t sleep, and I came up with a fictional story I am typing and hope to publish in the near future.
From 2006-2007, I served as Vice Speaker of the House of Representatives. I was awarded Forty Under 40 by the Pacific Business News in the Spring of 2007. On September 21, I chaired the first Peace Day Hawaii event. On October 16, 2007, I crashed my car and called the police. They tested and charged me for DUI. I pleaded “no contest” on December 21, 2007, my 33rd birthday. As a result, I resigned from the Vice Speakership. This negative incident came full circle to haunt me years later, since a similar situation had occured to a politician I supported (Rep. Nobu Yonamine) and another politician I looked up to when I was a young college kid (Councilman Jon Yoshimura), both of whom I keep in touch with and are just really nice people. Their political careers ended in 2002, the year I got elected into the State House. Although I was shocked and felt weak, I forced myself to keep working hard.
It is now April 16, 2008. I currently serve as Vice Chair of the House Water, Land, Ocean Resources, and Hawaiian Affairs in the House. I also serve on the Energy & Environmental Protection Committee and Finance Committee. I am back as Majority Whip as part of the House leadership.
When I was in high school, my dad burned a dollar bill to teach me a lesson. Time is valuable and it keeps ticking. As much as I want to slow down time, I can’t. I have learned to make the most of it.
People come and go, however, love, friendship, and memories are forever.
It would be easy to retaliate against my enemies and opponents that are so cold and mean-spirited. Instead of retaliating, I pray to them in hopes they reach happiness and peace.
These are just some of the events in my life. I have enjoyed my journey in life thus far, and I look forward to many more good memories. I will continue to go all-out. I hope to play a small role in helping people experience happiness and peace in their lifetime.
I am in a constant rush against time. I want to do all I can before my time expires. Since I was a teenager, I have been doing the best I can to prepare myself for death. I don’t know if I ever will be fully prepared. When the time comes, I will join my loved ones and ancestors who have gone before me.
Cherish your loved ones, work hard, and enjoy life!