"In order to succeed in life, you need to be proud of every part of who you are."
My family moved to Hawaiʻi Kai in East Oʻahu when I was very young. I learned to play the piano at four and learned how to read before Kindergarten. Our home was constantly filled with music from my mother’s piano lessons and choir practices. My father’s work ethic helped him become the first Samoan judge in the United States at the age of 37. His ability to pioneer new pathways inspired me and it set the stage for the meaningful things I hoped to accomplish with my life.
I attended Kamehameha Schools at Kapālama and became a song leader during my sophomore year. When I graduated at 17, I wanted to go to one college: BYU-Provo in Utah. Through hard work and determination, I received early acceptance to my #1 choice along with numerous scholarships to cover my education.
I was also very active in college and was chosen as the Women’s President, Polynesian Club President, and BYU Student Body Vice-President. One day, I received a very clear impression of a name: Matt Blackner. I didn’t know who he was but the next day a campaign manager for a student government candidate came to my house. He asked me to be a running mate and while I hadn’t planned on participating in student government, I agreed on the condition that his offer was for Matt Blackner. Coincidentally, this was the case, and thus began my first campaign journey.
Matt and I had a high-level campaigning team that ran like a well-oiled machine: We received campaign schedules every morning, we discussed branding, we prepared for debates, and we canvassed in the snow. We got through the primary race and were put against two very competitive journalism students in the general race. Despite the odds and challenges along every step of the way, we won the election. As BYU’s Student Body Vice-President, my knowledge of leadership grew exponentially, and I came to the realization that by rising to the challenge - whether in music or leadership - it made me a better person.
From 2003-2004, I saw Venezuelans receive free housing, free education, and free health care from the government. In 2002, President Chávez had assumed power and while his socialist reforms seemed good, it disenfranchised people taking away their individual freedoms. I remained a silent observer even as social and political unrest grew in the country. I remained focused on my purpose to help others and in doing so I learned much about their culture, language, and way of life.
Before living abroad, I understood little about different political philosophies and the consequent influence governments have on individuals, communities, and nations as a whole. When I returned to Hawaiʻi, I felt a profound gratitude and humility for my basic freedoms to vote, to voice my opinions, and to support good people for office.
We moved to Waipio, Oʻahu in 2008. I had just started a master’s degree at the University of Hawaiʻi and was juggling teaching piano, raising our children, and supporting my husband with his new job. In 2010, after much reflection and prayer, we bought a house in West O’ahu. While we didn’t have any family or friend connections there, we felt a strong impression that it would be the best place to live and raise our daughters.
We fell in love with our new community. As 2012 approached, I began to notice some government policies being introduced that were similar to the ones in Venezuela. I felt concerned for my family and the future of Hawaiʻi. I thus decided to forge a new pathway into civic engagement by volunteering for a candidate I believed in. After the election, I did not want to lose momentum and I remained active by joining my local neighborhood board.
In 2013, I raised $10,00 to ensure a well-funded campaign for the 2014 race. By organizing my work into spreadsheets, I calculated specifics like how many votes I’d need to win each precinct and how many people I had to talk to in a day. Often, I’d feel overwhelmed knowing that in some areas, I might need 500 votes but I knew only a handful of people. These numbers were daunting but kept me accountable. For many months, I hit the streets at 3:00 pm and stayed out until dark. After each day, I’d put my canvassing notes and phone numbers into an ever-growing database of supporters. It began as a nearly insurmountable challenge but ended as a labor of love.
I planned the day of the election down to the minute: I knew what time I’d wake up and the kind of breakfast foods that would be in my volunteer’s brown paper bags. I had a vote goal on a piece of paper taped to the wall. When the polls closed, I said a prayer with my husband and headed down to be with supporters. That night, I won by 56% against an eight-year incumbent who was the majority floor leader. My motto of “People Before Politics” had resounded with the community and now it was time to go to work.
In 2015, I spoke at the Kohala High School Gymnasium to address the overwhelming drug problem. The people asked me to help create a community action plan. I asked, "How many of you feel like there's a drug problem in your community?" Everyone nodded in agreement. I continued, “How many of you feel like your legislator doesn't listen to your concerns?" The crowd began to stand and clap while someone wondered aloud, "Who is our legislator?"
I finally asked, "How many of you feel like there's a power over you that you can't control?" At that point, the room was fully energized with everyone on their feet, and I responded, “The only power people have over you is the power you give to them. So don’t give it to them.” It was that very day that a strong impression came flooding over me: "You can help more people. Prepare yourself now."
It was daunting, but my determination exceeded any fear -- and what's the harm with trying and learning? At 37-years-old, I became the youngest Republican candidate and the first Native Hawaiian woman to run for Governor in Hawaii. While the odds were against me and the learning curve steep, it forced me to grow in record time. My 2018 campaign motto, "Our Time is Now," was the catalyst for change, and I think it helped shift the mindset of people throughout Hawaii.
It was daunting, but my determination exceeded any fear. I believe in life there’s only winning and learning. At 37-years-old, I became the youngest Republican candidate and the first Native Hawaiian woman to run for Governor in Hawaii. While the odds were against me and the learning curve steep, it forced me to grow in record time. My 2018 campaign motto, "Our Time is Now," was the catalyst for change, and it helped shift the mindset of people throughout Hawaii.
In the end, I received 33% of the vote, raised $510,000, and recruited a large grassroots campaign team. The decision to run in 2018 was the right decision because it brought hope to people across generations and laid the framework for future growth.
I didn’t know the challenges that would come as a city council member. But, I learned quickly about union organizations, city operations, housing, land, and zoning. I moved forward with a message of “Giving Hawaii Hope” through prioritizing local families so they can afford to live here for generations to come.
With a robust and well-oiled campaign team, support from my family, and hard work, I obtained a 59% victory in a five-way Primary Election in August 2020. I felt overwhelmed with gratitude to the community who supported my vision of bringing much-needed change and will continue to bring results to my District and the people of Hawaii.
Meet My Team
Ryan Naka has been a part of Team Tupola since 2016 and currently serves as Andria’s finance assistant. He is also a Realtor with Corcoran Pacific Properties and Director of Development for Project Vision Hawaii.
Ryan is a graduate of the Kamehameha Schools and is passionate about fitness, shopping, cooking, and traveling.
Grassroots Director &
Mary Colburn was born and raised on the Big Island and later moved to Oahu. Graduated from Kahuku High School. Beginning her career as a mom (haha) yup you got that right, she has 5 beautiful children 16,15,14,10, and 9 years old, married to Spencer Colburn for 17 years.
Mary owns her own nonprofit and investment firm and is also a co-pastor of New Life Kahuku. She has been a part of Team Tupola since 2019 and currently serves as Andria’s Community Assistant.
Web Specialist &
Shane Perry is an entrepreneur and owns a digital marketing company on the island of Maui. With SEO, Ads, and Social Media being some of his expertise he helps manage Andria’s marketing outreach with effective strategies to help reach more people with her message of hope for Hawaii.
Born and raised in Lahaina, Maui, Blake Ramelb started creating logos, videos, and marketing materials for his brand “BKR back in 2013.” Over the years, Blake has cultivated relationships with hundreds of businesses, influencers, brands, independent contractors, and creatives alike to strategically grow BKR’s online following to over 150K people.