Hawaii is more than a place. It represents a spirit of caring and the embodiment of cherished values like mutual respect, support of those in need, and a commitment to the comfort and dignity of our kupuna in their retirement.

This election marks an important point in our history. Coming out of difficult economic times, we face questions about how we will diversify and strengthen our economy to better cope with future challenges.

Looking forward, we will also decide now how we will make our state stronger and more sustainable in education, environmental practices, energy production, and agriculture. What will we do today to build a Hawaii where the next generation can live, work, and raise their families? And how will we preserve those values that we hold dear, and that make Hawaii the place that we love?

The person you elect on Tuesday will play a major role in answering those questions, setting those priorities, and obtaining support to make those plans and visions a reality.

In short, this election will define who we are and the Hawaii that we want for our future.

Growing up in Waianae — one of our state’s most economically and socially challenged areas — taught me that a community can work together to solve its problems. I grew up working in the family service station, where I saw first-hand the importance of commitment. I benefitted from an education that helped me achieve my dreams.

I learned that the foundation of effective action lies in a concerted effort and shared commitment to finding solutions. It grows from an acknowledgement of our responsibility to each other, and our individual willingness to contribute all we can to the mutual goal of success.

In my experience, there have always been those who promise that we can accomplish more by offering less. They want us to believe that turning our backs on those in need will encourage them to find their own solution, or that ignoring a challenge will force those who feel the greatest impact to discover a way to cope. They will talk about “greater priorities” and “tough love.”

But saying “no” doesn’t work.

Your next representative in Congress must be committed to finding the “yes” among our challenges.

I have spent twelve years in the Hawaii State Senate helping to find ways to tackle hard questions, building consensus within the body. The state senate has always been comprised of twenty-five very independent people representing variety of views. I have been able to bring them together and pass bills that help the people of Hawaii.

I have proven my independence by challenging the status quo in areas such as civil service reform. I fought waste and complacency by serving as senate chair on the investigative committee examining the state’s compliance with the Felix consent decree, and encouraging the work of an investigative committee reviewing the operations of the state’s Bureau of Conveyances. I have fought hard and found a way to preserve our social safety net in the face of the most severe economic downturn in recent history.

Still, throughout my legislative career, I have always maintained my focus on preserving the values that Hawaii cherishes, and that keep it the special place that we love.

Building Hawaii’s best future will rely on that balance of effective action and respect for our ideals. It won’t come from repeating political talking points or voting against teachers, the unemployed, or our kupuna. It will come from having the best representative possible for Hawaii in Congress. I believe that I have proven myself the best person to take on that role.