2018 Primary Election Candidates

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Running for:

State Senate

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Current occupation:

Affiliate faculty, University of Hawaii at Manoa a



Previous job history:

Sharon served in Governor Waihee’s Cabinet as deputy director of the department of labor and industrial relations and director of the department of human resources development; in the Hawaii State Judiciary as administrative director of the courts;

Previous elected office, if any:


What qualifies you to represent the people of Hawaii?

Sharon Moriwaki is a leader. Her life is characterized by seeing a need, identifying a solution, and taking action to follow through on her promises.

Born in Senate District 12 and a product of local public schools, Sharon’s education (Ph.D. and J.D. degrees), professional career and community involvement have prepared her to listen first to her constituents, then act. As founder and president of Kakaako United, Sharon is already in the district helping “we the people” who are too often missing from decision-making here. She fights for housing for residents not luxury for outsiders, for parks and open space, for helping homeless families into housing.

Sharon’s service has led to honors including the City’s “good neighborhood award,” the Hawaii Children’s Rights Council award, Hawaii Thousand Friends’ “Unsung Hero” award, the UH Outstanding Community Service award, and awards from the National Education Association, the American Society of Public Administration, and the National Association of State Personnel Executives.

What are the top three challenges facing the voters you seek to represent?

(1) Housing for residents. Sharon’s urban district is under siege that drives our people out of state—“luxury blight” from Waikiki to Kakaako financed by outside investment, aimed at an offshore market leaving residents screaming for affordable housing and open public spaces, including parks and more canopy trees. We need housing that residents can afford.

Sharon will seek legislation to provide Hula Mae-type revenue bond loans to anyone — architects, contractors, small landowners, carpenters on the bench, huis — who will build housing for residents. She supports “rent to build equity” projects allowing renters to set aside part of their rent in an account that later becomes down payment for their own home. Her goal: 60,000 new homes statewide, 18,000 affordable to lower income households, including homeless.

(2) Kupuna care. Seniors 60 years and older make up 56% of the district’s voters. They fear going out at night, not being able to access services as their health fails, and having to go into a nursing home—90% want to stay in place where they are. Hawaii has 154,000 kupuna caregivers. When legislators this session funded $1.2 million for caregivers, they helped only 330, providing the “lucky” 330 a mere $70 a week.

Sharon wants money from the Tobacco Settlement Fund that earlier brought $800 million —plus another $50 million every year — to fund health care, most especially including kupuna facing health challenges and their struggling caregivers.

(3) Crime and drug abuse are mounting problems in the district. Murders caused the military to declare Waikiki “at risk” in January, and the Japanese Consulate General recently warned its citizens not to visit Kakaako after Japanese tourists were beaten there.

To overcome drug abuse — at the base of most criminal activity today — we need to identify and track opioid abusers, give health workers access to the data base, and place abusers into treatment. These programs also help homeless addicts, who must be moved to spare, inexpensive, permanent housing.

If elected, what will be your highest legislative priority?

Housing for residents, not outsiders.

If elected, what can you do to improve the lives of your constituents?

In addition to the above-cited actions to address the three challenges of housing residents, caring for kupuna and fighting crime, Sharon will:

• Protect the environment. Hawaii needs to preserve our fragile land and shoreline ecosystems, and counter our dependency on imported fossil fuels. The Sierra Club, in recognition of her record, endorsed Sharon for state senator. Sharon will continue helping lead the state’s drive toward energy self-sufficiency; push for a statewide carrying capacity plan in the face of rising tourism numbers; and insure that we preserve our conservation land and water resources, forested watersheds, and endangered species.

• Fund education for the new economy. When Governor Cayetano brought high tech leaders here, the guests reported Hawaii lacked the qualified workforce advanced technology firms need. Our public education system is the nation’s only one that lacks a fixed income source — the property tax. We need a fixed revenue source, and need to guarantee most money reaches the schools where the students are, into the hands of principals and teachers are who know best how to spend that money to benefit our students.

• Tackle homelessness. The answer is spending the money for spare, inexpensive, permanent housing, and giving homeless the order to move there. “Housing first” means they carry their addictions with them, but they must entertain treatment.

Is there anything else you would like voters to know about you?

I have a trophy for making a hole-in-one.

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