Representation — what does it mean to be represented by others? Well, it means they are looking out for your interests and speaking on your behalf.

Are you even clear on what your interests are? Maybe, maybe not. Do these people represent you? Do you even know who they are?

Let’s begin by seeing if you actually know who is currently representing you.

Do you know who speaks on your behalf in the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C.? Well, it’s either Colleen Hanabusa or Tulsi Gabbard.

Did you know that Hanabusa will not be running for re-election in 2018? (She’s running for governor.) Do you know who is running for that open seat?

How about in the United States Senate? It’s Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz. How about at the state level? Who is your representative in the state House? Who is your state senator?

It’s just a click away: The official website of the state helps inform the electorate.

Did you know that you also have a county council member? What issues are discussed and voted on at each of these levels of government? You probably know who the president is, and governor and mayor, right?

Now that all of that is out of the way, and you know who represents you, do you know what they stand for? Do you have any idea who is voting against a $15 minimum wage in Hawaii? Is it your representative or state senator?

Why hasn’t Hawaii passed a law mandating buffer zones on restricted use pesticides to protect our kids? Why is the payday advance interest rate so high that you or your neighbors may never be able to get out of debt?

Do you support safe zones for our houseless ohana? Do you even know what safe zones are? Where do you stand on Native Hawaiian rights? Do you support or oppose vacation rentals?

If you do not know much about the issues, I have good news for you. That device you carry in your pocket or purse has a cool little icon on it that connects you to the internet. You can use that device to research anything you want.

Write, Attend, Call, Vote

Let me ask you this: Are the people who currently represent you — or want to — actually representing you?

The elections in 2018 will be pivotal for Hawaii.  The majority of our politicians are running on the Democratic ticket. That does not mean they are in fact Democrats, nor does it mean they represent you.

Sitting around bemoaning the situation and saying, “This is why I hate politics” is helping no one.

I implore you, beg even, for you to get to know your government officials. Write to them, attend town halls, call their offices and ask for meetings.

Ignorance is not an excuse.  You, — yes you —  are keeping them in power. They say they are representing their constituents. If you want them to do something differently, tell them. If you love what they are doing, volunteer for them and support them. Sitting out is no longer an option.

I will not tell you how to vote or who to vote for. I will tell you though, that if you do nothing, you are what’s wrong with our community, our state and our country.

Get involved. Sitting around bemoaning the situation and saying, “This is why I hate politics” is helping no one. Wake up!

Do you need help finding out who represents you and how to contact them? Visit this website.

You can enter your street or address to find your state legislators using the “find my legislator” tool on the top right corner. Type your county into the search engine to find info on your council members.

Let’s have so many people wanting to engage that the websites crash. Are you with me?

Community Voices aims to encourage broad discussion on many topics of community interest. It’s kind of a cross between Letters to the Editor and op-eds. This is your space to talk about important issues or interesting people who are making a difference in our world. Columns generally run about 800 words (yes, they can be shorter or longer) and we need a photo of the author and a bio. We welcome video commentary and other multimedia formats. Send to news@civilbeat.com.

About the Author