Colleen Hanabusa spent more than 10 years in the Hawaii Senate, much of it as its president. She served twice in Congress over the past decade.

When she wasn’t in office, Hanabusa worked as a high-profile labor attorney and spent time as chair of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation.

In short, the candidate for Honolulu mayor this year has a demonstrated track record in public service. No wonder, then, that the title of her first television commercial is “Time Tested.”

Watch the ad:

The candidate begins the ad by stating, “We are faced with an almost unimaginable challenge. An economy to rebuild, new ways to stay healthy and safe.”

Hanabusa is shown sometimes wearing a face mask and gloves to protect against the coronavirus as she appears to help deliver food and supplies to people in need. Hanabusa then says, “The crisis revealed all the ways we count on government to work, and what happens when government fails us.”

The screen is filled with a series of newspaper clips with nothing but bad news: the virus outbreak at a Maui hospital, record unemployment figures, visitors breaking quarantine, a huge state budget deficit, seniors and farmers facing unprecedented challenges.

“In a crisis there’s no time for a long learning curve or hesitation to act on behalf of our working people, our families, our kupuna,” says the mayoral candidate as a piano plays a somber tune.

The 60-second version is much the same as the 30-second — frame for frame at times — except that it opens with Hanabusa visiting her mother, June, to let her know that she’s ordered her an additional face mask.

Watch the ad:

Hanabusa’s mom has often been featured in her many campaigns.

Near the end of the 60-second version, look carefully and you’ll see Hanabusa appear to cast a quick eye to an off-camera script before returning to the camera and saying, “We are up to it. Now is the time.”

I don’t know if that is what really happened, but it illustrates that Hanabusa has never been a slick, polished politician. That may appeal to some voters who are seeking authenticity but might also be received less favorably by others who expect higher TV production values.

In this, her first TV commercial, Hanabusa does not mention two of her leading opponents who have no governing experience — Keith Amemiya and Rick Blangiardi — but it seems clear who she’s referring to.

Nor does the advertisement mention issues specific to the City and County of Honolulu such as rail, homelessness and affordable housing.

But then, there is no more important issue than the ongoing pandemic. The Hanabusa campaign is banking on voters wanting a steady hand in an unsteady time.

The 30-second spot ran 18 times last week on KGMB for a cost of $4,500, appearing on popular programs like Hawaii News Now “Sunrise” and “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.”

The Hanabusa campaign also spent around $18,000 to run the ads on KGMB from May 26 through June 10. It included airing during the “Willie K Hana Hou” special remembering the late local musician.

The ads ran as well on KGMB’s sister station, KHNL.

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