Public school teacher, Hawaii Department of Education
I was a teacher at Fern Elementary previous to my current position at the State Legislature. I bring my experience of teaching in our public schools to this office.
Road maintenance has been a large focus of mine. I have worked diligently during the Legislative session to ensure my community's state roads and highways are repaved. This includes securing appropriations, keeping my community at the top of the Department of Transportation’s mind, and sharing information about current district projects to our neighbors.
Additionally, I have focused on improving my community by deterring crime, curtailing monster homes, and keeping our streets clear of litter.
Addressing homelessness is a top priority of mine. In order to do so first we need effective government enforcement of our trespassing laws. Specialized personnel are needed to prevent and remove the illegal activity of sleeping and loitering in our parks, underpasses, and schools. Secondly, we need to establish ohana zones, or safe zones, so we can direct and transport displaced homeless individuals to designated areas for them to congregate. It's clear to me that sweeping the homeless without a clear place for them to go only results in additional scattered illegal encampments elsewhere. Finally, we need to reassess the effectiveness of our outreach service providers. We need to establish clear benchmarks for contractors and non-profits hired by the government to provide these outreach services. It is extremely difficult to convince a homeless individual to go to a shelter, receive services, and move into housing, but if our current outreach contractors aren't achieving this at a high rate, we need to look for new strategies or partners.
Removing homeless encampments would greatly improve the lives of many residents who want to walk safely through our streets or parks. I partner with the various government agencies responsible for enforcement of our trespassing laws, including the Department of Transportation, Department of Land and Natural Resources, Department of Facilities Maintenance, Department of Parks and Recreation, and the Governor’s office. Often, these agencies are prevented from enforcing laws because of the jurisdictional limit of the State and the City. For example, when there are homeless individuals occupying adjacent State and City land, it requires a coordinated effort by both levels of government because neither is willing to take on the liability of sweeping land that doesn’t belong to them. As a result, I’ve moved to institute cross-jurisdictional authority among various State and City agencies, so that the State can work in City land and vice versa.
As a former public school teacher, education is an issue close to my heart. There are many strategies and policies the Legislature considers, but the most simple and effective one is early education. Getting students in a quality preschool shows tremendous results, especially for our immigrant and poor families. We need to get these children in a school setting as soon as possible because Kindergarten is already too late for the most needy students.