Executive Assistant to Maui County Council Member Mike White – 2011 to 2018
Hawaii State Board of Education - 2004
I was born and raised here on Maui as a fifth generation Maui boy. I have a deep understanding of our community and live the challenges faced by many families. For nearly eight years, I have worked side by side, Maui County Council Chair Mike White working on budgetary matters, constituent concerns, complex legislative matters, along with tracking and advocating for legislation at the Legislature. I have also served as chair of the Maui County Democratic Party for four years, pushing forward Democratic candidates and values. This past April, I was selected by the Democratic Party and Governor David Ige to fill the term of Joe Souki. During my time at the Legislature, through collaboration with my colleagues, I focused on delivering top priority needs for my district. At Baldwin High School funds for reroofing classroom buildings and at Intermediate School, funding for security upgrades were both appropriated. In addition, funding was secured for Maui Memorial Medical Center. For me it is truly about helping and bettering our community and making sure that future generations can actually call Maui their home.
The biggest concern that I continually hear relates to affordability for residents. Those born and raised here or who have lived on Maui for a long period of time are being priced out of our own community. More must be done to ease the burden of the biggest expense that many families face, which is housing costs. Quality public education is also at risk. Hawaii faces a severe teacher shortage, with many long-time teachers retiring. Many new teachers are deciding that this field is not for them, and the State has resorted to hiring teachers from the mainland. Unfortunately, this is a short-term solution, as mainland teachers usually do not stay in Hawaii for long periods of time. This is compounded by aging facilities, and in my district, facilities filled to capacity. These are priorities that must be addressed. Taking care of our seniors is also a critical. In the next 10-15 years, Maui will be facing a huge silver tsunami. At the current time, we lack adequate long-term care facilities or suitable home care options.
Truly affordable housing and rentals will be my highest legislative priority. Although the legislature recently approved several hundred million dollars to be used statewide to help create affordable rentals and address shelter for the homeless, there is much more to be done. Creating strategic partnership between the counties and the State will be critical along with a public-private partnerships. The next phase must also focus on the ability to quickly and efficiently rezone tracts of land for the purpose of creating affordable housing. Each county must identify large tracts of land where housing can be built in a walkable community that will stay affordable over a long period of time.
Suitable senior housing is also needed to provide an incentive to those who want to downsize, freeing up additional housing. Although this is a start, the simple fact is housing is severely needed for the community.
My priority will be on fixing every day issues. Aside from working on housing, education, and senior services – one of the biggest issues is infrastructure. Many of my constituents work in West Maui and face the traffic on the Pali. Completing the Lahaina Bypass must be a top priority so that residents spend less time in traffic and more time with their families. This is the same for congestion in Waiehu and Waihee where some type of relief is needed to ease congestion. As our population has increased, our infrastructure has not and we must work on ensuring action is taken.
My commitment to my constituents is to always be there for them. All calls and emails deserve a response, because responsive communication is respectful communication. I believe in open and honest discussions and I always want to hear from residents. Most importantly, I believe in no excuses and no punting. Even if concerns are “not a State issue,” we will work together to find the answer.