Since '06 State Representative, Hawaii State Capitol
'04 – '06 Exec. Secretary, Honolulu Salary Commission
'05 – '06 Communications Director, Democratic Party of Hawaii
'02 – '04 Senior Aide - Ann Kobayashi, Honolulu City Coun
Loyalty to residents and community. I strive to work harder and not be your typical cookie cutter politician. I believe in being an independent voice and creative spirit, even at the expense of losing popularity or a newspaper's endorsement.
My background includes 25 years in the private and nonprofit sectors, starting as a gas station attendant and later Journalism major at UH (and KTUH radio alumni!). I have worked for 15 years in government and eight years as a neighborhood board member.
These experiences, along with living in Waikiki as a child and as an adult for the last 35 years, give me an intimate understanding of our community's needs and how best to respond to them.
As an elected official, I strive to be resourceful and proactive, dedicated to finding practical solutions, both in and outside the Capitol, to longstanding community problems. If re-elected I will continue to work with residents to channel our frustrations into social and political advocacy.
It is the issue of our time. The problem is confounded by the fact that not all homeless individuals want to be housed and/or employed and it is not “compassionate” to allow them to stay on the streets. Vagrancy laws (sit-lie, stored property ordinance, camping and park closures) are only as good as their enforcement.
I was the first Hawaii legislator to propose a safe zones pilot project (HR 62, 2010) as a cost-effective, short-term solution to chronic homelessness while long-term solutions are being put into place. Since some homeless don't have the discipline or refuse to go to shelters, government should designate areas where they may camp, otherwise they continue to monopolize our public spaces.
As lead House chair on the homeless omnibus bill (SB 2401) this past session, I worked to ensure homelessness is being addressed in more promising and prudent ways. Most notably this new law includes $30 million to, among other provisions, create five safe zones, three of which will be here on Oahu.
I also strongly support expanding Housing First for the chronic homeless, making public restrooms available 24/7 and creating a vagrancy law to protect the public’s immediate health and safety.
2. Affordable Housing:
Because of the high cost of land and construction, Hawaii has a shortage of affordable housing and among the highest rents in the nation. As chair of the housing committee, I have participated in meetings with the Governor's office to discuss how the state can increase its housing inventory for middle class, low income and homeless residents in a more impactful way.
My top priority was to help expand our affordable rental inventory to 22,500 units by 2027. We have exceeded that goal this session. House Bill 2748 (Brower, 2018) jumpstarts the creation of 25,000 rental units for working families— those who cannot afford to buy a home but earn too much to qualify for public housing— by appropriating a substantial $570 million housing package that positively impacts those in the 80-140% area median income. Next session, I would like to see more housing for those below the 80% AMI mark.
3. Sidewalk Safety:
I regularly receive complaints about pedestrian near-collisions involving bicycles, skateboards, trikes and Segways on sidewalks. While bicycles and skateboards are already prohibited from Waikiki sidewalks, there are concerns about other modes of transportation— which are relatively new and growing in popularity— affecting pedestrian safety, peculiarly defined as "personal mobility devices" even though they are widely used by able-bodied operators and easily exceed eight miles per hour.
Sidewalks are under the City's jurisdiction but, to date, the City has not acted on a law the Legislature passed in 2009 (Act 078) that gave them the power to prohibit or regulate personal mobility devices— which include electric scooters, trikes and Segways— from sidewalks. Therefore, I am looking into new laws to make sidewalks safer. As a side note, I rode a bicycle as my main source of transportation for 20 years and I don't dispute that it's a cost-effective, greener way to get around.
Homelessness and housing are my top priorities, which is why I chose to chair the Housing Committee. My office is in constant contact with the Governor's office and relevant state and city departments to (provide orange fencing) reclaim public spaces taken over/ trashed by illegal campers and provide them outreach. Sadly, most refuse services.
I regularly visit areas that receive complaints. I have been the first and sometimes the "loudest" to "sound the alarm" on an issue that legislators feel uncomfortable talking about. Like firemen going into a burning building, legislators must go where the controversy is.
I am committed to preserving what is special about our community and correcting what needs to be changed. Besides supporting legislation with statewide benefits and introducing legislation that constituents ask for, I will continue to raise the issues and make government more aware and responsive to our concerns.
On an individual level, I often investigate residents' complaints on my day and night walks through Waikiki, Ala Moana, Kakaako and the mauka surrounding neighborhoods. It is good for exercise and helps me to better understand the problems and connect with constituents.
I shaka when I sign wave, the people honk at me,
Wear illegal sunscreen, burning for democracy.
Citizen legislator, Pisces bleeding heart,
Subtle as a hammer on a shopping cart.
A barista vigilante with a Star Wars fetish,
Hapa at the farmers market eating raw lettuce.
Quirky blue glasses, introspective ENFP,
In the closet straight, mocking bureaucracy.
Leadership by inner strength, not title, goes far,
Since politics is what you do, not who you are.
From politician to statesman, the realization you find,
It's sad to do the right thing and thankless at times.
Fighting isn't fruitful and self-promotion isn't progress,
Politics is the art of the possible, standing for purpose.
Being effective isn’t just winning elections, a voter poll,
The real goal, humble yourself, see the conscious soul.