Mayor of the County of Kauaʻi
Director of the Offices of Community Assistance (Transportation, Recreation, Elderly Affairs and Housing Divisions), Kauaʻi County; Director of the Department of Parks and Recreation, Kauaʻi County
Mayor of the County of Kauaʻi
I am the only candidate for lt. governor with public service and executive leadership experience. As mayor, my team and I don’t just develop policy, but we also implement policy. To be a leader means you do more than legislate. To be a leader, you must know how to implement policy that creates opportunities for our community.
I know what it is to provide the vision and the leadership for an organization composed of multiple departments and diverse public services. Serving as mayor means I am the chief executive of a team that includes the complex responsibilities of:
• emergency management,
• economic development,
• elderly services,
• the fire and police departments,
• public works,
• and more.
Every day, I lead this complex organization to serve the public. No other candidate has this important experience.
Affordable housing, homelessness and education are three major challenges facing our state.
It is the state and counties’ responsibility to find affordable housing solutions by securing funding for projects. As mayor, I’ve worked with the Kauaʻi County Housing Agency, developers and community members to make affordable housing initiatives a reality. These developments are the footprints we can use on the state-level to immediately address the housing crisis.
Lima Ola in ʻEleʻele is one example of a housing footprint we’re setting on Kauaʻi that we can expand across the state. We secured 75 acres for $2 million to build the first green, affordable housing project with 550 affordable housing units (single and multi-family) for sale or rent and received a $13 million loan from the state. Phase 1 is 149 units and breaks ground this summer.
Another type of affordable housing we’ve accomplished is Kaniko‘o in Līhuʻe, where kūpuna can age in place with their caregivers. Finished in March 2017, there are a total of 90 units funded by federal and state housing programs. Our kūpuna have the opportunity to be cared for and live with their loved ones as they age with dignity.
On the issue of homelessness, the government needs to enlist the expertise and resources of nonprofits, businesses and organizations. The state must take the lead by securing funding (state, federal, private) and creating a footprint for ALL counties to follow.
We must address the various types of homelessness and how to best solve each.
• For individuals that choose to be homeless despite options and resources, we should provide hygiene stations to allow for self-care and overall public health.
• Houseless individuals and families with kids struggling to afford rent should have more opportunities like the Kahauiki Village on O‘ahu or Pua Loke in Līhuʻe, which will be a transit-ready community in the town core with up to 50 units of permanent housing for homeless.
• For homebound homeless without the resources to return home, we must work with programs and grants from groups like the Hawai`i Lodging & Tourism Association for reparations services.
• Individuals suffering from mental illness need to be reached and treated by creating a stronger alliance between DOH officials, mental health service providers and nonprofits.
In addition to the priorities of homelessness and affordable housing, I would add education. As a state, we need to focus on improving the access and quality of early education and post-secondary education. I am a parent of three adult children, one of which is a second-grade teacher, and I know the challenges within our education system at every level. Together, I know we can improve education in Hawai`i by enriching students' experiences through real-life learning and by supporting classroom teachers. Through emotional, social and intellectual support for all students, we can help develop good character and citizenship in our future leaders. I will continue to commit myself to supporting education initiatives from preschool all the way through our university system by working directly with individuals and groups that understand the needs of our keiki and educators, including the Hawai`i State Teachers Association (HSTA) and University of Hawai`i Professional Assembly (UHPA).
Let’s make pre-school free statewide. The earlier a child is exposed to the concepts of letters and numbers and shapes and has the opportunity to interact with other children, the more solid grounding they have for learning. We give our children a step up when we expose them to a group learning environment early.
Let’s provide for non-traditional learning opportunities for our high school students and high school graduates such as certificate programs and apprenticeship programs. For example, the innovation economy is fueled in part by coders. Coding represents a diversity of well-paid job opportunities and we have a number of respected coding boot camp certificate programs headquartered right here in Hawai`i.
Most importantly for education, we need to concentrate on ensuring that Hawai`i has top-notch teachers earning solid, competitive salaries. Currently, Hawai`i’s starting teacher salaries are the lowest in the nation. This is simply unacceptable and we must work together to correct this inequity.
I want to improve Hawai`i’s Disaster Emergency Preparedness system. As mayor of Kaua`i, I have hands-on leadership experience managing community response to natural disaster at all levels in our community.
I want Hawai`i to be a shining example in the nation of implementing a “Whole Community Approach to Emergency Management.” This program of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) focuses on members of the community as vital resources. FEMA says this approach is essential because it “…presents a foundation for increasing individual preparedness and engaging with members of the community as collaborative resources to enhance the resiliency and security of our Nation through a Whole Community approach.”
For Hawai`i to excel in this leading edge endeavor, we must have a strategic framework in place that guides how everyone contributes. My greatest strength as a leader has always been to be a bridge to action. A bridge connecting people with each other. A bridge to success.
I believe the lt. governor’s office can and should be the people’s office. My strength as a leader is bringing people together and this office has the potential to be that bridge between the people and their government.
As mayor of Kauaʻi and Niʻihau for the past 10 years, I’ve enjoyed building teams and empowering them to work on practical solutions. Together as a county, we’ve set footprints to address issues that affect not just our county, but the entire state. I’ve decided it’s time to take those footprints to the next level.
With the support of my family, we decided my next step in public service would be as lt. governor. Together, as the people of Hawai’i, we can make our state a better place for everyone if we come together and THINK BIG.
My strength is bridging resources and bringing people together. I will apply this skill to an initiative that will positively impact homelessness, affordable housing and education—workforce development.
Workforce development bridges education and business. It brings these two vital components of our economy together. When we create a strong bridge between our teaching professionals and our business leaders, we establish a strong foundation for preparing our youth and our adults in the best ways possible for entering the job market. Teachers benefit from having access to the resources and guidance of our business community. The business community benefits by having graduates applying for jobs that come with skill sets in demand by their industries.
Our people are at the very top of our “Hawai`i Brand” and by investing in our people, our workforce, we grow the number one resource our economy needs to create good jobs. A strong workforce attracts business development and growth. When we invest in our people and provide opportunities for them to learn the skills needed for good jobs, then we help them afford a better quality of life.