1991-1995, Chair, Maui County Cultural Resources Commission
1998-1999 Maui County Councilmember
2000-Present, Senator, State of Hawaii
2014-Present, Majority Leader, Hawaii Senate
Maui County Councilmember
I have been in elected office for 22 years, first on the Maui County Council, then in the Senate. I have been in the Senate since 2000, and now rank 3rd in seniority. As the Majority Leader of the Senate, I am able to implement large-scale whole-of-government reforms, such as creating the Commission on Climate Change & Adaptation and pushing for the adaptation of the 17 UN Sustainable Development goals for Hawaiʻi.
I have advanced degrees in Pacific Island Studies, and have continued my education by completing a certificate program for Senior Executives in State & Local Government at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. As a native Hawaiian, I am grounded in my culture and able to work in both the traditional and western worlds. I have a strong track record of accomplishments such as the renewable energy portfolio standards, HI5 recycling program, Airports & Harbors modernization programs, the Aloha+ Challenge, Hawaiʻiʻs accession to the Paris Accords, the Climate Change & Adaptation Commission, Aha Moku Council, the Temporary Commission on the 13th Festival of Pacific Arts & Culture and many other programs. With this strong background, I am well able to continue to lead and represent the people of Hāna, East & Upcountry Maui, Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi and Kahoʻolawe and all the people of Hawaiʻi.
1. Poverty & Homelessness
2. Climate Change/Sea level rise/Natural disasters
3. Food Security
Encompassing Hāna, East & Upcounty Maui, Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi and Kahoʻolawe, transportation and infrastructure are the greatest needs of the 7th District. For the people on Molokaʻi, Lānai and Hāna, it is often difficult to fly for routine needs such as medical care and education. Often times, these residents experience delayed or even canceled flights. Additionally, the harbors and roads on Molokaʻi and Lānaʻi are the lifeline for the islands. I have spent 10 years as the Chair of the Senate Committee on Transportation & International Affairs to address these issues in all the rural areas of Hawaiʻi.
For Maui the roads and bridges are of utmost concern. We have invested hundreds of millions of dollars to keep our state roads safe and maintained, with emergency repairs to the Hana Highway, Haleakala Highway and Kula Highway after floods and landslides. Now, as Majority Leader of the Senate, I will continue to ensure that the roads, harbors and airports in our district receive the necessary funding to remain operational.
I will continue to advocate for the people of Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi and Maui as well as the island of Kahoʻolawe in the Senate for our rural lifestyle and for equity in services. While we are remote, our needs are the same as those in the cities. Education, medical services and transportation remain our top priorities. I will also continue to ensure that our projects are funded in the state budget, and our infrastructure such as roads, harbors and airports remain viable for all.
As the Majority Leader of the Senate, I strive to create a vibrant society that is robust for everyone. I have concentrated on environmental issues as everyone and everything is affected by our environment. I will continue to advocate for a healthy environment to ensure the happiness and wellbeing of my constituents.
I am from Hana, Maui and grew up with my maternal grandparents. I speak Hawaiian and enjoy gardening. I have a large, 150 pound Italian Mastiff dog named Hiva who commutes with me from Hana to the other side of the island each week.