Vicky Cayetano: What I learned in my candidacy for governor

Vicky Cayetano: What I learned in my candidacy for governor

Publisher’s note: Today we welcome Vicky Cayetano to our list of regular columnists. We are delighted that Vicky is interested in continuing to contribute to the community discussion on important issues facing the state. As a longtime successful business owner, a former First Lady, and now a former political candidate, we believe she provides readers with a rich perspective on a wide range of topics. Vicky is also a strong advocate for women and the concerns surrounding women in the workplace and politics. So expect to see a number of interesting topics and people being raised in this column. For this introductory article, we ask you to reflect a little on her recent experiences on the campaign trail.

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One of the things I’ve learned running for Governor is that it’s an experience like no other.

While most people may see political careers as a result of winning or losing, it is much more than that. I found that you gain a lot from the process, that win or lose, you can feel like a winner even if you’re not.

And although there are moments when you feel these hard blows that take your life, you are surprised to find yourself still on your feet. As the song says, “I Will Survive.”

I also learned that I was not the typical candidate. Coming from the private sector as an entrepreneur who started a business 34 years ago, as a woman who had raised two children, I represented something quite different than what the Hawaiian political scene was used to seeing.

I believed then, as I do now, that this perspective combined with the knowledge gained from running a gubernatorial race provides a unique point of view. That’s why I was delighted when the opportunity to write a regular column for Civil Beat presented itself.

With the primary election over two months away, it was time to take stock of the situation. While losing a campaign can never be a great experience, I felt a sense of satisfaction and gratification from what I’ve lived and breathed over the past year. He was grateful for the people he had met “on the way,” confident that something good would come of it, and determined to move on and hopefully encourage others to consider public service. I also thought it would be interesting to share some of the hard things I learned from my experience and from other candidates who didn’t make it. It is a learning experience like no other.

It was certainly one of the most challenging experiences one could embark on. It’s a combination of all of his various life experiences packed into one short and incredibly intense timeline. You have fear and uncertainty, you feel satisfaction when things go well. Then you experience the frustration one feels when one is rejected in a relationship and finally it is the pain of losing after giving everything.

The intensity is unique and the difficulties are more dramatic than a roller coaster. These experiences are further magnified when she considers that his family, friends and supporters are there to share his pain.

Vicky Cayetano was surrounded by supporters, friends and family, including her husband and former Governor Ben Cayetano, on primary election night. She writes that the campaign also affects everyone involved, not just the candidate herself. That’s something most people don’t realize or think about. Ronen Zilberman/Civil Beat/2022

I think an appropriate title to describe a campaign would be the title of an old Western movie from the 1960s, “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.”

So what is the “good, the bad, and the ugly” in a campaign? Well, the good thing is obviously the purpose and the people a candidate is running for. You believe in your heart that you can be effective in improving people’s lives. The good thing is the many volunteers who come out for you, who sacrifice time with their family for months or years to help on a campaign, all because they believe in the candidate.

While people often say that politics and campaigns bring out the worst in people, you also see the good that it brings out. The dedication seen in these volunteers, the loyalty they have to take on any battle on behalf of their candidate, and the camaraderie among team members is both inspiring and uplifting.

The downside has to be the social media comments and memes that play such a big role in campaigns now. The pseudonyms that people use to hide behind their ugly comments and baseless criticism. Comments that target not only the candidates, but also their families. Comments that do nothing for an election and everything to destroy a candidate.

If we want to encourage people to run for office, if we want to restore the belief that public service is a worthy cause, we need to foster a different campaign culture, one that elevates discussion, not name calling.

Campaigns can and should be a more positive process in our civic responsibility.

The ugly has to be what one physically experiences in a campaign. You find yourself transforming into a different body. Lack of sleep, frequent consumption of not-so-healthy foods, and not finding time to exercise all contribute to extra weight and inches in all the wrong places.

There should be a “before and after” snapshot of our campaign so we can see what candidates look like at the beginning and end of a campaign. If we’re being honest, I’m sure it would include noticeable changes like hair loss, bags under the eyes, extra inches, and yes, that bug-eyed look from lack of sleep.

It also affects our family members. Keith Amemiya, a candidate for lieutenant governor, shared with me how his campaign affected the family. Let’s face it: reading negative things about someone you love is often harder than reading a negative statement about yourself. He also believes that social networks are a tool that does not help the political process. It fuels the negativity in our culture and is part of the reason decent, everyday residents feel rejected by politics.

Campaigns can and should be a more positive process in our civic responsibility. Campaigns must be a catalyst to bring people together, raise issues that affect our lives, and engage the next generation of leaders in the important work of public service. However, that will be difficult to do if we don’t make changes to the current campaign environment.

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