July 1, 2008
[Published in “Community Recipes II” in 2004]
JON’S INSPIRATION INTO POLITICS
I want to give you a little insight into what inspired me to enter politics. In my life, family members who enjoyed public service surrounded me. My grandfather Maurice Karamatsu who began his career as a messenger boy for Inter-Island Steam Navigation Company (Hawaiian Airlines) and retired as Vice President of Duty Free Shoppers Hawaii was heavily involved in the democratic process until his passing in 1992.
My father Richard Karamatsu, an electrical engineer at Pearl Harbor has always been active in community organizations such as the Jaycees, Momilani Community Association, American Youth Soccer Organization, and Pearl City High School PTSA. He served as president of the Pearl City High School PTSA even after I graduated, and none of his children were attending the school. My father still coaches and referees for youth soccer long after my two sisters and I stopped playing.
I have a lot of respect for the leaders before me such as the World War II Generation and Governor John A. Burns. As a young student at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, I used to read books about Hawaii’s leaders and the struggles they went through to fight for equal rights, worker rights, women rights, modernizing Hawaii’s infrastructure, and developing tourism and agriculture. I believe Burns influenced me to run for office.
In the mid 1990s I was motivated to be involved on women, children, and social issues especially areas of domestic abuse and sexual assault as a result of experiences my friends and acquaintances went through.
In college, I studied on how strong economies maintained healthy societies. I want to develop our knowledge-based industries such as technology, biotechnology, agricultural research, science, art, digital media, film, and alternative energy where we, the minds of people in Hawaii, create products and services that will compete in the global economy.
Just as the leaders of the past gave me an opportunity to learn through public school and the University of Hawaii, I am focused on the education of our kids. I want to prepare future generations to play a significant role in developing our knowledge-based economy.
Finally, just as Governor John A. Burns influenced me, I hope to influence others to better Hawaii, especially the younger generation. Governor Burns died in April 1975 when I was only four months old, but his work touched my heart years later. Likewise, all it takes is for one kid to feel my message and pick it up.