House District 49
2018 Committee Clerk, State House of Representatives
2016-2018 Guardian Ad Litem for kids in Foster Care
2017 Legislative Aide, Hawaii State Senate
2009-2016 Tutor, Various schools
2007-2017 Server/Bartender, Various re
Multiple positions with the Democratic Party of Hawaiʻi: Region 9 Chair (House Districts 48, 49, 50, 51); State Central Committee Rep for Senate District 24; District Chair; Oahu County Rules Committee; At-large Rep, Veterans Caucus; Secretary, E
I was born and raised in Windward Oahu, and I have always been very active in our community. For the past 10 years while I worked and put myself through college at UH, I also did a lot of volunteer work like tutoring underprivileged elementary school kids, working with children in foster care, and testifying on all kinds of bills. I have experience working in our State Legislature in both the House and Senate, so I already have a comprehensive understanding of the legislative process through both chambers. My legislative experience combined with years of dedicated service to my community make me uniquely qualified to represent the voice of District 49 in our State House of Representatives.
So many of the issues we face are so closely interconnected. I think the most painful problem for both our Windward community and the entire state is the increasing rise in homelessness, which is a tragic combined result of a critical lack of affordable housing, poor wages and worker benefits, insufficient services for our veterans and people struggling with behavioral health issues, drugs, an inadequate school system, and so much more.
The good news is, with so many different causes, there are multiple things we can do in the short and long term to help.
In the short term, we desperately need more service providers to help our houseless veterans, youth, and families get back on their feet. With so many diverse causes of homelessness, the only way to get our houseless ohana off the street is to take an individualized approach and help each person connect with the services they need for their situation.
In the long term, we need to address the root causes of homelessness. These are often long, difficult processes to implement but we can start by improving access to mental health care, providing transitional services to high risk groups like veterans coming home from combat and young adults aging out of foster care, and reducing the barriers to higher education and trade schools.
2. Kupuna & Family Care
I once quit my job to care for my 99-year old grandmother. This is a decision that many in our community face, often leaving families burdened with added stress of financial hardship in addition to their loved one’s medical problems. I was very disappointed when this year’s bill to implement a Paid Family Leave program was reduced to another study, and I look forward to being among the legislators that decide which model of Paid Family Leave to implement so no one in Hawaii has to choose between their job and their family again.
3. Responsible Resource Stewardship
Preserving our natural resources for future generations is imperative to our unique island lifestyle. For years I’ve been working to protect our native species, restore and develop streamflow standards, and return to an ahupuaa-based land management system that works in harmony with the symbiotic relationships from the mountains to the sea. Farm-to-school programs, ocean-friendly gardens, and visitor education campaigns are just a few examples of positive programs that I want to expand.
Considering that we live on one of the most isolated land masses in the world, I would like to see a statewide shift toward more sustainable agriculture and local food & energy production, so we’re better suited to provide for ourselves if an extreme weather event renders our ports unusable.
Education. Improving our public education system will have positive impacts on many of our deep-rooted, systemic problems like homelessness, incarceration, and much more.
We are facing extreme teacher shortages, crumbling facilities, and one of the shortest school years in the nation. The problem is not that we don’t have enough money - we actually ended last fiscal year with a budget surplus of hundreds of millions of dollars. The problem is that our lawmakers are not making education spending a top priority.
One of the most common concerns people tell me about as I go door to door is the poor walkability of their neighborhood. We have some of the least pedestrian-friendly streets, yet I always see pedestrians walking (or driving wheelchairs) down the middle of the road because the sidewalk is nonexistent or in disrepair. It is dangerous, and it is not ADA compliant.
This is an issue I have already been working on with City & County officials who are in the planning phases for projects to improve walkability in Kaneohe, and to update our Windward Bus routes. Planning these projects properly with adequate foresight and vision will not only make our neighborhoods safer and help alleviate traffic (which is becoming a growing problem for us here on the Windward side), it will also encourage more healthy, active lifestyles and bring our community together.
For more details, follow me @ facebook.com/NataliaForHawaii or visit nataliaforhawaii.com/about