Small Business Owner
- Owner/Manager Affordable Quality Apartment Rentals (dba AQuA Rentals, LLC) 2009-Present
- Owner Enlightened Energy, LLC 2007-Present
- Appointed Commissioner, Hawaii Civil Rights Commission 2012-2016
- Managing Attorney, Volunteer Legal Servic
Elected Member, Board of Education 2006-2011
I am the only candidate in this race licensed to practice law in Hawaii, and has passed the prerequisite ethics examination. Ethics and integrity go hand in hand. I am the only candidate that has rejected contributions from corporations, and their Political Action Committees (PACs). Meanwhile, all the other democratic candidates in this race have collected big money from big-pharma, agri-chemical corporations, the NRA, or other monied special interests.
I became an attorney to prevent and correct government sanctioned injustices. Growing up, I listened to my mother share stories about her childhood in the dusty internment camps of Poston, Arizona. The United States targeted her and her family, and so many others, just for being who they were - not based on anything they did. And then when I was 23, living in New York City, I experience a similar indignation of being discriminated against in my workplace just for being who I was, not my work performance.
I’m proud of my work to enact and enforce civil rights laws to protect the values of hard working people — to give them an equal standing to laws protecting corporations. I was also elected twice to the State Board of Education and led efforts to reduce bullying in the public schools. This advocacy led the Obama White House to honor me as a “Champion of Change.”
First, we need to fully fund public education: from preschool through graduate school. If our state can find money for a $10 billion elevated rail system, we can raise the revenue to have a first-rate public education system, pay teachers a competitive professional salary and provide our students with facilities that align with the value we place on education.
Second, we must reform our regressive tax system by removing G.E.T. from groceries, medications and medical supplies, and replace that revenue by requiring corporations to pay their fair share of taxes. Hawaii currently has the lowest corporate tax rate in the nation, because corporations have been investing millions of dollars into electing state officials who will keep their taxes the lowest in the nation.
Third, we must correct the affordable housing shortage, that worsens our homelessness crises. Too many of our adult kids and grandkids are moving away from Hawaii because they cannot afford a home. We need to implement a moratorium on building permits for luxury residential developments until all needed affordable developments are built. Affordable developments have such a narrow profit margin; they cannot outbid luxury development for limited resources, like land, labor and materials. We can reward luxury developers for helping to build affordable by issuing them credits they can remit to get first dibs on permits when the moratorium is lifted.
I am the only Lt. Governor candidate who has been involved with addressing homelessness on the front lines since 2001. I began my career as a public interest attorney, coordinating free legal clinics in homeless shelters across the state. I have been a licensed foster parent to teenagers, some of whom were previously homeless or incarcerated. And today, as a small business owner, I provide housing to previously homeless families or to families that would be homeless but for their Section 8 subsidy.
I believe the Lt. Governor has more to contribute than advancing a single issue, as has been the practice in the past. Hawaii faces numerous and substantial problems, all of which are inter-connected; we need a systemic approach to issues. My priority, first and foremost will be to represent the people who elected me, not the moneyed establishment who have too much influence at the Capitol. I will transform the Lt. Governor’s Office into the people’s office, where those community leaders working on the front lines of Hawaii’s most pressing issues will have a space to coordinate, collaborate, and amass power to effect real change for all the people of Hawaii, not just the corporate elite.
My opponents collectively represent 52 years of elected leadership -- and they have created a tale of two Hawaii’s. When we look up, we see more and more luxury condos being sold to the world’s wealthiest 1%. But when we look around, we see more and more local families sleeping on sidewalks.
Nationally, we have the highest rates of homelessness and the highest rates of families living paycheck to paycheck. Given our exorbitant cost of living, Hawaii residents carry the highest average personal credit card debt in the nation. Most people in Hawaii are one crisis away from slipping into homeless.
While our social safety nets are torn and tattered, while our schools go underfunded, we charge corporations the lowest corporate tax rates in the nation. And we continue to give tax breaks to real estate investors who don’t even live our state.
The survival of our moral decency requires us to continue to fight for housing the homeless, investing in better schools not bigger prisons, and prioritizing our natural resources over the profits of multi-national corporations.
I will advocate for the many residents who are worried that our children will continue to leave the state when they become adults because they can’t afford Hawaii’s high cost of living and housing costs. We are on the verge of losing a generation due to those stifling factors.
When it comes to a relationship with the governor, I look forward to working with them, or around them, but I will always prioritize the concerns of the People who call Hawaii “home”.
I was born on the island of Kauai and raised on Oahu. I am honored to be endorsed by Sierra Club Hawaii, Unite Here! Local 5, Our Revolution Hawaii, Women for Justice - Pacific Region, Academic Labor Union, Victory Fund, Democratic Socialist of Honolulu and Local Berniecrats.