Take Five: Rep. Mark Takai

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Posted March 3, 2015 at 5:00am

It’s time again for Take Five, when HOH talks with a member of Congress about topics relatively unrelated to legislative work.  

This week, freshman Rep. Mark Takai, D-Hawaii, sat down with HOH over a plate of traditional luau dishes to tell us about his family, orthopedic surgery and mistaken identities.

Last Friday's lū‘au spread included traditional dishes like poi, lomilomi salmon, and laulau.
Last Friday's luau spread included traditional dishes such as poi, lomilomi salmon, and laulau. (Megan Evans/CQ Roll Call)

Q. What is your favorite pastime? A: You know, its very difficult to do now since I’m here in D.C. and my family is back in Hawaii. My favorite pastime is spending time with my family, and that’s pretty much all I have in terms of downtime.  

On the weekends when I’m home, I try to keep the weekends clear, so on Sundays we go and work out in the morning and in the evenings we have my brother, my sister and my family come together for dinner. We’re usually at the pool or at the park, my daughter plays soccer and my son swims.  

Q. As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? A: I wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon for the minor sports, running and swimming. … Very early in life I started swimming, and I would get injured a lot and have to see physical therapists and orthopedic surgeons and I decided that would be pretty cool to do.  

Q. Do you have a favorite book or a favorite author? A: No, not really. I read a lot, mostly just current events. I read everything I can get my hands on. I ordered Steve Israel’s book, [“The Global War on Morris”] so I’m looking forward to that coming. What I’m trying to do now is to read some of what my colleagues have written, but I haven’t started yet.  

Q. Do you have a favorite campaign story? A: I have interesting stories here [in D.C.]. So there’s 14 Asian-American and Pacific Islanders in Congress and — without fail — every day [Rep.] Ted Lieu [D-Calif.]  gets called Mark Takai, and Mark Takai gets called either Mark Takano or Ted Lieu, but it’s been a lot of fun because we all get together and do a recap of the day and who made that mistake. And, you know, it’s OK! We’re just brand new, and Ted’s a great guy too. I told Ted that as long as he continues to be someone I like, I have no problem having people think that he’s Mark Takai. I mean, I’ve got a lot of pretty awesome stories. In fact, I gave a speech at the Democratic issues conference and before I started I said, “I just want everyone to know that is Ted Lieu over there from California, and I’m Mark Takai from Hawaii. Aloha.” The next day Ted tells me, “I got to tell you this; someone came up to me and said, ‘Great speech.’”  

Q. Now, this last question is controversial. Dogs, cats or other? A: Before children, “B.C.,” my wife and I had two dogs, both Maltese. We got one one year before we got married, and we got our second one the year we got married, and the second one is now 17 years old. Pretty remarkable. We’re a dog family. Many a Christmas card had Sami and me and our two dogs.  

Correction, 3:35 p.m. A previous version of this story misstated Rep. Takai’s wife’s name. It is Sami.  

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