As former lawyer for the Legal Aid Society of Hawai’i (1997-2000), I represented families in the Honolulu and Kahalu`u District Courts, many who were one paycheck away from becoming homeless; filed lawsuits to protect families from consumer fraud; a
State House of Representatives, District 47, 2008-2010; State House of Representatives, District 47, 2010-2012; State House of Representatives District 48, 2012-2014.
As a parent of two and business owner as well as former deputy attorney general, director of an agency and legislator, I know how difficult it can be for families to get by. I also understand how and when government works well and doesn't work. My dedication to the people and issues on the Windward side, unique education in science, economics and law (BA - Economics - 1990, MS - Agricultural and Resource Economics - 1995, JD - 1997) and my life experiences qualify me to serve again as the Representative for District 48. I am committed to solving problems, helping others and serving the public to make a difference.
As a legislator for the Windward side from 2008-2014, I successfully worked with community members and leaders to collaborate, write bills and pass many laws to address myriad challenges, including climate change, responses to hazards (trees and rocks), increasing food production, streamlining permitting to promote agriculture, the State's first cyber-bullying law, preventing animal cruelty, investing in public schools, keeping people in Kahana Valley, promoting restoration of kalo lo`i, promoting renewable energy and sustainability goals, protecting vulnerable users on the roads, providing options for local families to maintain agricultural and homestead leases, etc. I also know when to say "no" and worked hard to oppose and reverse laws that did not serve the people of Hawai`i, such as laws to privatize public land (Public Land Development Corporation), lower water quality standards and increase retiree pension taxes.
Today, my commitment to and success with community-based lawmaking, my experiences addressing housing, tax and economic challenges, as well as my understanding of how the environment and economy are related are more valuable than ever -- key to creating legislative changes that make sense. In addition, I have served in the Executive Branch of government, as a deputy attorney general and then director of an agency, and have first-hand knowledge of the challenges that must be addressed to reduce government inefficiency, corruption and conflict while promoting transparency, responsiveness and effectiveness.
As a successful and independent voice in the legislature, I have a proven track record of being effective -- creating meaningful laws and influencing State budget decisions as well as preventing or fighting against actions that do not serve the people of Hawai`i. I hope to again have the privilege to be a legislative resource for Windward O`ahu. residents.
1. Affordability. For so many families, the top issue is affordability. Whether it’s taxes and fees, the high cost of housing, food and medicine or low wages, many people are struggling to get by or suffering. Poverty, hunger and homelessness are indicators of affordability challenges, and government can and must do much better to address the most pressing issues of the day, before bigger catastrophes strike. In addition, we can and must increase affordable housing while "keeping the country country."
2. Climate Change, disappearing natural resources, "keeping the country country". Climate change poses great threats to the Hawaiian Islands, not just because there is and will be sea level rise, ocean acidification, species extinction and increased hazardous weather events, but because State commerce, economic growth food supplies already have been and will be increasingly impacted. For example, Windward families often struggle just to get home as many roads now are flooded during storms. Government must work hard to better prepare for emergencies, mitigate and adapt to changes, before it is too late.
I wrote many bills while I served in the legislature and made specific recommendations to address these issues when I served as the Director for the Office of Environmental Quality Control (go to http://oeqc2.doh.hawaii.gov/EC_Reports/Forms/AllItems.aspx and select the 2014 Annual Report for more information). To mitigate, we must do more to reduce the use of imported fossil fuels, promote renewable energy in all sectors and invest in technologies and jobs that will reduce and reverse risks and negative effects of climate change. At the same time, we need to adjust and prepare for changes. As the Director for OEQC, I made specific recommendations that include, for example, consolidating agency programs and creating one agency to focus on the environment and sustainability issues and utilizing the Genuine Progress Indicator to compare economic, social and environmental data before consequential choices are made by government.
3. Investing in the Future. Government must make investments, revise tax laws and revisit the institutional systems that hurt working families, keiki and kupuna in particular. We must find new streams of revenue, eliminate inefficient bureaucracies and promote government systems that serve people. This means allocating funding to address sewage and cesspool needs and road repairs; getting rid of tax code policies that tax food but exempt corporate real estate trusts; passing a law to ensure vacation rentals are taxed; investing in infrastructure and improving curriculum in all public schools; and providing food security for our keiki and kupuna.
In our community in particular, I would work tirelessly to address the related issues affordability and environmental stewardship of our resources, to serve everyone. For example, I would collaborate with and build upon efforts by Kāko`o `Oiwi, Papahana Kualoa, Hui Kū Maoli Ola and Paepae O He`eia, the University of Hawai`i, Hawai`i Institute of Marine Biology, in concert with the new National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) to create jobs, bring in federal and private funding and restore and improve the He`eia ahupua`a and the health of coral reef and ocean wildlife resources in Kāne`ohe Bay. These efforts will mitigate risks and effects of climate change while promoting recreation, economic activity and benefits, subsistence living, wildlife and food abundance.
If I am re-elected, I would work tirelessly to improve the lives of Windward O`ahu residents, beginning with listening and directly responding to their concerns. I would hold regular community meetings and make myself available year round. I know that listening to constituents, providing them with information and bringing them together with other community leaders often leads to solutions. In addition, I will introduce bills and work on budget decisions relentlessly, to address community concerns with legislative action.
My email is firstname.lastname@example.org, my website is JessicaWooley.com and I can be reached at 864-0400. I am here to serve and hope to have your support. Mahalo.