Public school teacher at Nanakuli High and Intermediate School, 7th grade science
I have experience in both the public and private sectors. I was a public school teacher for three years after college, teaching middle school science at Nanakuli High and Intermediate School. While teaching, I earned my Master of Education in Teaching degree from UH. After three years of teaching, I realized I couldn't afford a house and would have difficulty raising a family on my teaching salary. I made the difficult decision to leave teaching to attend UH Law School and have been practicing law for the past six years. One of the reasons I'm running is to make sure other teachers do not have to make the same choice I did. I want to support teachers who want to stay in the classroom.
I've remained involved in education as the President of the Malama Honua Public Charter School Foundation. I also serve on the board for the Domestic Violence Action Center, the local Neighborhood Board, and am Vice President of the Kaneohe Christmas Parade. I believe my background as a public school teacher and attorney, along with my heavy involvement with the community, make me a strong candidate to represent House District 49. I've been walking the district since November, have knocked on over 15,000 doors, and have talked to thousands of voters. I've had an overwhelmingly positive response from the community, and I feel I can bring real change to both our community and state.
Seniors. My district has 5,000 senior voters over 65 years old. On Sundays before church, I meet with a senior group at McDonald’s to talk about the issues and challenges in their lives. Their overwhelming message is that we must do more to support seniors in their homes. Our seniors need increased in-home care services and would greatly benefit from both preventative medicine and encouraging healthy lifestyles and activities. Most seniors do not have the resources to afford a care home and are happier and healthier in their own homes. Getting seniors to doctor’s appointments and providing opportunities for socialization are essential. It makes social and economic sense to keep seniors healthier and happier at home.
Affordable Housing. My district is also filled with houses with two, three, and even four generations under one roof. Residents tell me that it is simply affordable for younger generations to purchase or even rent a home for themselves. The rise of services like AirBnB and the move toward constructing luxury high-rises instead of workforce housing has raised housing prices in my community to where community members can no longer afford to stay. We need to control transient vacation rentals and support projects in Honolulu's urban core that will provide more workforce housing (like 801 South) to local families, which will lower housing prices across the state, including in my district. Lower housing values will also lower property taxes, which will help my district’s seniors on fixed incomes.
Hawaii State Hospital. My district contains the Hawaii State Hospital, which has had numerous escapes into our community and low staff morale. I've spoken with a number of residents who work at or used to work at the Hawaii State Hospital, and have sat down with them for in-depth discussions about their experiences. I would like to see a shift in how patients are managed, both for patient health and to protect our community. We need to take steps to increase staff morale and better monitor patients that are given the freedom to wander escorted- especially those deemed psychologically manipulative. Providing patients with more activities to occupy their time gives them less opportunity and incentive to escape. We also need better communication with the community when a patient does escape- it is unacceptable how long it took for the Hawaii State Hospital to notify the community that Randall Saito had escaped. Instead of continuously building higher fences, we should invest in real solutions for both patients and the community.
Education. We need to invest more into education. Our schools are falling apart from lack of funding- we currently have $270 million in deferred school repair and maintenance. Upkeeping current facilities will save the State from making huge future capital expenditures to replace entire buildings. Teachers need more support- we are currently paying our teachers the lowest in the nation when cost of living is factored in. Our good teachers are leaving for other states and our college students are hesitant to pursue teaching as a profession. With so many of our teachers leaving the teaching profession and so few choosing to enter it, teaching is in a precarious position. We need to elevate teaching by supporting those who are excelling in the classroom and recruiting and training high-quality candidates. As a former public school teacher in Hawaii, I know how difficult it can be in the first few years of teaching. We need to set up a better mentoring program to allow veteran teachers to support new teachers, and for veteran teachers to pass along knowledge through courses for new teachers that can offer PDE3 credits for pay scale advancement. Schools are training and graduating Hawaii's future workforce. We need to ensure graduates are ready to hold the jobs of the future and responsibly contribute to our communities for years to come. I consider education not only crucial but a true investment in our future.
I believe addressing the issues above will improve the lives of my constituents.
If you would like to know more about me, please visit my website: