Hawaii Island County Council
Does not apply/Nonpartisan race
Communication & Community Outreach
One of my core strengths is the ability to build bridges and bring people together in an inclusive way. Now more than ever, Puna needs effective leadership – someone who works well with others, who will roll up her sleeves to work for, with and in community to get things done. Having been born and raised on Hawai‘i Island, I’ve watched it grow and change. Now that my partner and I are raising two children in Puna, I want to make sure they have the option to stay here. I work in small business and am an active volunteer, so constantly have my ear to the ground and am in close touch with the pulse of my community. I’d focused on leveraging my talents, connections and experience to uplift our island and its people, today and into the future.
Council District 4 is home to the ongoing lava eruption, which started May 3 and forever changed our community. Puna had incredible needs before the lava started flowing – more police officers, access to medical care, higher education, jobs closer to home, and kupuna care. Over the last three months the district has been hit hard; many have suffered loss of homes, farms, belongings and treasured outdoor spots, including access to Pohoiki, a popular surf/swim spot and boat ramp for local fisherman. The top three challenges we need to address include 1) helping those who have been displaced by lava get back on their feet by providing stable housing, 2) revitalizing Puna and its economy, 3) improving infrastructure district-wide so we can incentivize investment in building economic hubs and innovation centers that will strengthen and uplift the community. Bottom line is we need things for Puna, IN Puna.
As Council Member, my highest priority will be to find efficiencies within government to save money. I believe we are facing one of the biggest financial and social crises in our County’s history. We need to get creative and find ways to do more with less. I’m a fan of public-private partnerships, so would work diligently to find ways to bring in resources to support County government’s important work to increase public safety, take care of our parks and roads, and properly manage our waste.
As Council Member, I want to empower residents and activate our community to build the bright future we all deserve. No one person or entity can or should do this alone. Government needs to convene conversations with stakeholders and work with the community-at-large to solve our most pressing issues. One thing I’d like to do is to coordinate a series of “community activation projects” that encourages families, children, businesses, nonprofits and government to work together on projects that beautify our neighborhoods and move us closer to a vibrant and sustainable future. With projects such as litter and recyclable pick-ups, planting community gardens, large-scale public/recycled art, clearing of invasive species, or building leave one/take one lender libraries, we can spark folks to get directly involved in work to brighten, care for and better our island home.
If elected, I’d be a roll-up-the-sleeves Council Member. In response to the May lava eruption, I worked alongside Ikaika Marzo, my uncle Gilbert Aguinaldo and others to start Pu‘uhonua o Puna Info & Supply Hub. Through the Hub, I’ve raised money for mobile hygiene trailers to support ongoing disaster relief as well as am working with groups to move the needle on transitional and permanent housing solutions. I was also instrumental in fostering a connection with World Central Kitchen, which provided three nutritious meals a day to the Hub volunteers, displaced residents and impacted communities for three months, totally more than 50,000 meals served. This is the kind of grassroots, community-driven style of leadership I’d bring to County government. As a first time candidate, and challenger to an incumbent, I’m honored to have been endorsed by ILWU, UPW Hawai‘i, Operating Engineers, SHOPO, Hawai‘i Firefighters Association, HLTA and Hawai‘i Island Contractors Association; these groups recognize what I bring to the table – aloha-driven leadership, resourcefulness, connections, experience, smarts, hard-work ethic, and ability to work well with others, all key ingredients to building community to achieve our common vision of a sustainable, secure and thriving Hawai‘i.