Office Manager, State Legislature
Student Services Specialist, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources
Faculty Specialist, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Student Affairs
I am seeking office in my hometown of Kāneʻohe and Windward Oʻahu because I want to make a positive difference in my community. Kāneʻohe has always been my home – it is the place where I grew up and it is now the place where I am raising my family. I am a product of our district’s local public schools and graduated from Castle High School. I am also a proud graduate of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa where I earned my bachelor of science and master of education degrees. I am a wife and mother of two children.
I am currently working at the State Legislature as the Office Manager to Representative Aaron Ling Johanson. I have first-hand experience with: the legislative process, working for a chair of a committee, labor related issues (Representative Johanson is the Chair of the Labor and Public Employment Committee), and working effectively with colleagues, organizations, and constituents.
Prior to my time at the Capitol, I worked for 12 years at UH Mānoa as both a faculty member and as a student services specialist for the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR). As a faculty member, I taught leadership development courses, mentored students, and coordinated UH’s New Student Programs. I was also responsible for CTAHR’s academic advising, scholarships, recruitment, and co-curricular activities. All of these experiences at the University have provided me with opportunities to develop and strengthen my leadership skills, work effectively with diverse groups, and achieve tangible solutions to problems, which will make me an effective legislator.
I have always been involved in my community. For most of my youth, I danced hula for Kāneʻohe’s Keolalaulani Halau Hula ʻOlapa O Laka and participated in numerous service organizations at Castle High School and UH Mānoa. I currently attend Mountain View Community Church in Kāneʻohe, am President of Benjamin Parker Elementary School’s ʻOhana (PTA) where my daughter just finished kindergarten, am a member of the Kiwanis Club of Kāneʻohe, am a member of the Koʻolaupoko Hawaiian Civic Club, and am a member of the Castle Alumni/Community Association. I am also a volunteer with the Kāneʻohe Community Family Center and the Cherry Blossom Festival (Honolulu Japanese Junior Chamber of Commerce).
Since last year, I have been walking door-to-door to meet the people in my community. While visiting voters at their homes, they have shared their concerns for our community and the State. The top three issues that they share with me include: 1) the cost of living and lack of affordable housing, 2) our community’s increased homeless population, and 3) the public education system in our district.
Cost of Living/Affordable Housing:
As a local resident raised in a single-parent, working class family, Hawaiʻi’s rising cost of living and housing crisis personally affects me and my entire family on a daily basis. Although my husband and I both work full-time, our combined incomes are not enough to be able to afford a house in today’s market. Like many other long-time local families, this means living in with my mother and raising my children in the same place I grew up. Although we are fortunate to have a place to live for now, not having the keys to our own home means our housing situation will continue to remain an uncertainty especially as market prices continue to climb throughout our neighborhood and the state.
As a legislator, I will push for housing development and legislation that make homeownership more affordable for our middle income and working-class families. We need to ensure that homes are built at affordable price points, as well as support affordable housing efforts, such as rental housing and workforce housing. In addition, I will support continuing the efforts that the Legislature began this year by providing funding to the State Rental Housing Fund, as well as expanding the excise tax exemption for construction on affordable rental housing, which will encourage the development of new affordable rental units.
In order to address the homelessness issue, it is important to continue to partner with available services that are already focusing on addressing homelessness across the State, such as IHS and the Waikiki Health Center. Non-profits, community groups, and churches on the Windward side offer an additional resource to assist in a holistic strategy to reduce homelessness and help individuals transition into self-sufficiency.
Additionally, it is also necessary to address the various reasons for homelessness on the Windward side, which includes mental health, drug and substance abuse, and individuals who are just not making enough to make ends meet. It is also important to support children who are homeless and partner with the educational system to provide additional support for them.
Public Education System:
As a graduate of Hawaiʻi’s public schools including Castle High School, a parent of children who attend/will attend public schools, a PTA President, and the daughter of a 30-year retired elementary Windward public school teacher, supporting Hawaiʻi’s public education system is one of my highest priorities.
As a legislator, I will push for more funding to go towards public education in Hawaiʻi and will support efforts to provide more equitable funding for all schools across the state. I believe in supporting teachers, and that our educators in Hawaiʻi are underpaid and underfunded. I will support higher pay for teachers and teacher tax credits, as well as professional development opportunities for educators.
Having lived in this community my entire life, I have seen the many changes that have taken place throughout the district. My highest legislative priority will be to serve our families, children, and kūpuna by reducing the cost of living.
I will advocate to reduce the tax burden on our working-class families and seniors. I will work to increase the low income renters’ credit, make the Earned Income Tax Credit permanent, reduce taxes on food and medicine, and increase the child tax credit in order to make Hawaiʻi more affordable.
My heart is to serve the community that I grew up in and the place that I will call home for the rest of my life. I am committed to listening to my constituents, to being responsive to their concerns and their needs, and maintaining open lines of communication. I hope to be someone that they feel comfortable talking with and someone that they know will get the job done for them (whether through solving State issues or working with our City Councilmember). I will always give my 100% effort to serving in the Legislature and will work hard for the betterment of our community. I will remain a person of integrity and someone that my constituents can trust.
I am committed and passionate about serving the place that I grew up, the place my family has lived for four generations, and the place that my children will continue to call home. I understand our community’s unique past, because it is my past and my family’s past; I understand the present challenges of our community because I see it and live it everyday, and I have a vested interest in our community’s future because Kāneʻohe is the place that I will call home for the rest of my life.