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Transparency Matters

Shawn Richey

May 11, 2022

Candidates shouldn't be perfect but they should be authentic. They should own the choices they have made and be honest about their motivations and intentions. This is about productivity not popularity.

I am far from a perfect man, but I am genuine in my actions and how I approach problems and the way I live my life. I grew up in Hawai'i in my grandparents house with lots of love and moderate means. I have lived life poor and with plenty, I have fought, cried, lied and laughed in discovery of myself. I remember as a kid I went through a season of trauma which brought me to a realization that the things haunting me only had the power that I gave it. As soon as I stopped giving power to things that were out of my control or that didn't matter, I was free to learn and explore.

Still, I was an outsider in many of my circles (too haole, too local or too real) and adopted the mentality of a participating observer. I would be cautious and respectful in joining anything to make sure that it fit who I wanted to be (or at least that it didn't align with who I didn't want to be). This served me well, I would honor my commitments, learn as much from them as possible and then use what I gained from the experience to improve myself. Serving in the military, paying my way through college and finding/starting a career I would always try new things to understand them and then make the decision that I believed would better my position.

I grew up a Democrat in Hawai'i, I will always think we should be judged by how we treat others and that striving to support and uplift those in need is a righteous calling. I believe in equality of opportunity for healthcare, education, access to basic resources that support life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I have never once thought of someone as less than me and would always put myself in their shoes to figure out how I could best relate and support them. My giving and supportive nature along with the genuine desire to see everyone do and live better made being a liberal a natural fit.

Like many in 2016, I was shocked by the election of Donald Trump. I did not care for his history of bankrupt bailouts which screwed over middle class workers. I was also unsure of a celebrity president who got famous off the catchphrase "you're fired". I supported Bernie Sanders that year and lost interest once he "lost" the primary. I was a new father and just found a strong footing in my faith so after the election, with reservations, I decided to give Trump the benefit of the doubt. From my perspective the quality of life I enjoyed was not effected by Trump but I could see the division he was causing amongst friends, families and communities. When I looked into it, I found a man I still didn't like but who was being portrayed by the media in a way that was causing chaos and division.

Heading into the 2020 election, things appeared to be at a boiling point. I was once again cautiously supportive of Sanders only to have deja vu and see Biden brought out to represent the party I grew up loving. With the rise of cancel culture and the increase of shaming and blaming against those with whom you do not agree online, I felt like I needed a safe place to ask questions. While the pandemic absolutely did not help, the writing was already on the wall and I decided to leave the comfort of my bias to challenge myself to better understand what was happening around me.

Going back to my roots, I became a participating observer in small conservative and libertarian local communities locally and on the internet. While politically I did not have much to relate with I found connection through certain values we held in common. More than anything I saw anger, fear and distrust in the government and media coming from concerned but well meaning citizens. As someone who has worked for the government my adult life I did not share those fears but could relate to people searching for answers and asking questions. It was an interesting and challenging experience which taught me a lot from observing and participating in this space in good faith.

After walking a mile in their shoes, and as I started to seriously consider a run for office, I stopped to evaluate where I was and what the next steps for me would be. I realized that while I had found some common ground and understood the conservative and libertarian circles more than ever before, I would not be honest with myself if I ran under either of these parties. Integrity is huge to me and I will always be honest with myself in my actions and pursuits. Having improved and refined my position and understanding of what would help the most people, I decided to conceptualize a third party that would create a middle ground as a safe place between the worlds I traversed.

As I advocated for the new party, I quickly realized that there was too much going on in people's lives to make the time to learn about a new party. I learned so much about people hearing from both sides of issues and trying to support the concerns of each. However, when it came down to it, the choice was easy for me to run as a Democrat. The Hawai'i Democrat Party platform encapsulated my ambition and desires in government and I believe my perspective and experience is a needed voice in that space. I share this story because transparency matters, I am not a Republican, I am not an extremist by any metric and I am a centrist Democrat. I have no regrets from the experience and learned so much about myself and society.

Just like I have my entire life, I will be unafraid to participate, ask questions and challenge my biases to improve my position and understanding with the intent to better myself and help others. As your elected official I believe I am the right conduit for progress and making things better while representing all perspectives, even the ones I may disagree with politically or personally. I believe the greatest overlap between our partisan society is the desire to put people first. As a PEOPLE FIRST democrat, I will act in good faith to achieve the goals of the platform while putting the needs of the people first.

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