HONOLULU - Shan Tsutsui has leadership in his blood.
And a lot of family support to back him up.
Tsutsui, who represents Central Maui, officially took the reins of power as Senate president Wednesday. He's the first Maui resident to hold the position, and, at 39, the youngest to be Senate president since statehood.
For those who don't know Tsutsui's family background, it might seem like he's come out of nowhere. But his parents have reached heights of success in their own rights, though perhaps not as high-profile as their son.
His mom, Pamela Tsutsui, is employed as a general manager at Pacific Radio Group, and together with Glen Tsutsui, raised their two sons, Shan and Jon.
Tsutsui's parents and his parents-in-law, Bruce and Joanne Lee, of Pukalani, all expressed pride in their son's accomplishment.
"We're very proud, very excited," Joanne Lee said.
"I think he's going to do his job well," Bruce Lee added.
Tsutsui's biological father is Glen Sakagawa, a retired Army general and retired U.S. Postal Service executive.
"Politics, it's a tough world," Sakagawa said. "As long as he can sleep at night, he's doing the best job possible."
Pamela Tsutsui chose to be a quiet force behind her son on Wednesday, while Sakagawa said he encouraged him to "put himself in other people's shoes."
"Once you know what people want, you'll know how to serve them," Sakagawa said.
He said he hopes his son will continue to be a consensus builder and one who empathizes with all kinds of people.
Shan Tsutsui's wife, Lyndelle, said she realizes that her husband's new job will take him away from home a lot, but she stands ready to support him.
"It's a new challenge, but we're up to it," she said. "I see it as something good for Maui. We want to serve Maui."
The couple's three daughters all attended the opening-day festivities - Mikayla, 11; Kaylee, 7; and Kenna, 3.
Pamela Tsutsui said the Legislature's opening day reminds her of the day Shan brought home his first-born daughter.
"It's that kind of emotional moment. You see his face, and you see he's very happy, very proud," she said.
Tsutsui said she's been running into a bunch of people from Tsutsui's childhood, all wishing the family well and recalling him in different stages of his life on Maui.
"They say they remember when Shan coached kids and volunteered on the tennis team," she said.
When he decided to run for office, Pamela Tsutsui said she thought her son was going to serve one or two terms and maybe chair a committee or two.
"We never thought it would be like this," she said. "Never."
Sakagawa said he had a feeling his son would eventually become a leader, given his ability to "listen and get along with people."
"I believe in him," Sakagawa said. "I have confidence in him."
* Claudine San Nicolas can be reached at email@example.com.