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FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT

In 2013 Chris stepped up to help lead the campaign to pass marriage equality in Hawaii. In spite of receiving a death threat for his public role as a spokesperson for the campaign, he fought on to help make Hawaii the 15th state to pass same-sex marriage. He then took on the fossil fuel industry and passed a law making Hawaii the first state to require all electricity to come from 100% renewable energy. When a mainland corporation proposed a $4.3 billion takeover of Hawaii’s utilities that would exploit local consumers, Chris built a coalition and led the opposition. Together, they overcame a $20 million corporate ad campaign in order to protect local residents and helped successfully defeat the takeover.

Chris has never shied away from standing up to do the right thing. He has taken a proactive role successfully authoring and passing important laws to protect victims of domestic violence, keep guns out of the wrong hands, protect our environment from polluters, make adapting to climate change a priority, fix public schools, protect workers from exploitation, reduce the cost of living for local families, and address the corrosive influence of money in politics. Chris earned the respect of his colleagues and was chosen to serve as Assistant Majority Leader and Chairman of the Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection. He was named national “Best Policymaker” by the US Green Building Council Center for Green Schools, and has been endorsed by Barack Obama for his role making Hawaii a national leader on climate and energy policy.

Chris always says it the greatest honor to be able to serve in this role for our community, and credits his family for teaching him about the responsibility we all have to help our neighbors and improve the lives of others we care about. Most of all, he hopes those same lessons will be embraced by future generations.

"Chris really is a different kind of leader. He's been a true underdog who overcame personal tragedy, took on the status quo, and actually succeeded in delivering big wins for the people of Hawaii. That's why we believe in him."

A JAPANESE/HAOLE KID IN A CHINESE FAMILY

Born in Honolulu to a Japanese mother and haole father, Chris was given up by his biological parents at an early age. He was adopted by a loving local couple - Gary, whose father worked in the shipyards at Pearl Harbor, and Connie, a former public school teacher on Oahu.

After graduating from Iolani School Chris pursued a passion for architecture at Oregon State University. However, his path changed during an internship at the Hawaii State Capitol where he watched a few senior citizens and surfers organize their community and stop a development taking over their neighborhood. It was his first time witnessing individuals stand up to make a real difference.

TAKING ON THE STATUS QUO

Chris was elected as the youngest State Representative and only millennial in the 2009 Legislature, where he began fighting to change the status quo. In his first year in office he began working to address the influence of money in politics and successfully passed an amendment to prohibit state contractors from making political contributions, helping to stop the pay-to-play culture that exists elsewhere. He went on to pass laws to prevent voter fraud and require public disclosure of who really funds election advertising.

OVERCOMING THE ODDS

At just 30 years old, while giving a talk at a community meeting, Chris lost his vision, balance, speech, and collapsed. He had suffered a stroke and was hospitalized. Yet, over the succeeding months he overcame the odds and worked hard to make a full recovery. But the experience changed everything for Chris. He realized that our time here is short and we can't wait for others to solve our problems. So Chris began standing up to tackle even the most difficult issues, and taking on the political powers that be.

GETTING INVOLVED

Inspired, Chris began volunteering to help local families at non-profit organizations such as Breakthroughs for Youth at Risk and later the Hawaii Meth Project. Like many of his peers struggling with Hawaii’s high cost of living, Chris worked multiple jobs at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Honolulu, at Hawaiian Airlines, and eventually as an analyst at the State Capitol. Then in 2008, a few community leaders approached Chris to run for a seat representing Windward Oahu in the Legislature. Chris had never been comfortable with public speaking, but he realized this was a chance to do something about the challenges his generation now faces trying to make it in Hawaii. He chose to step up.

Meet Chris Lee

ABOUT CHRIS LEE

Elected as the youngest member of the Hawaii State Legislature, Chris has led a bold agenda looking to the future to ensure our next generation can make it in Hawaii, and has successfully passed groundbreaking laws making Hawaii a national leader on renewable energy, climate change, equal rights, and building a fair and just 21st century economy that leaves no one behind.

- Michael Gill, Kailua