I believe our keiki deserve the opportunity to a quality education. The problems of meager funding, dilapidated buildings and too few teachers have not changed since 1911. Our state consistently ranks as one of the lowest in test scores nationally, over the last two years we have started the school year with almost 1,600 teacher vacancies and Hawaiians are the one sub group who are most likely to have an unqualified teacher. We pay teachers the lowest salary in the country when factoring in the cost of living.
Every politician runs on education, but I feel the reason this hasn’t changed since 1911 is because many of our governors, legislators, board of education members, and superintendents have sent their own kids to private school on Oahu.
To get better public schools, we need legislators who are truly experts in public education. and an adequate funding stream solely for public education. I can make this happen because of my 13 years of experience as a public school teacher and experience as HSTA vice president.
When students were being rained on in my class because former governor Linda Lingle was not releasing education funds, I went to the media and a new roof was installed six months later. I rose in the ranks of his union to advocate for resolutions to these problems, but realized that the real power to do so lay with the Legislature.
I will break the cycle of neglect that has plagued this state since 1911. In order for us to have a functional democracy and a thriving economy, we need to ensure that every child is given a quality education.
PONO AFFORDABLE HOUSING
I believe local, hard-working residents in our district, let alone the entire state, are in dire need of truly affordable housing. Our family and friends shouldn’t be moving away because nonresidents are buying up all the property for profit, making purchasing a home almost impossible. Thanks to Wailuku’s own Na Hale O Maui a community land trust not for profit, I was the first person to purchase a truly affordable home through their amazing program.
It was such a relief to see my hard-earned money, from working as a teacher by day and waiter by night, actually going towards a three-bedroom home in Wailuku and building equity. It was a dream come true! I felt the need to help others like me, who were living pay check to pay check.
I can make this happen because of my experience as board member and vice president of NHOM. I have discovered that we can take the successful seed of NHOM and have it germinate statewide. The cost of land is too high for our local community. To get there we need to find creative solutions to solve this most pressing issues. I believe the state needs to do a better job supporting community land trusts. First we need to change the federal definition of community land trusts into house concurrent resolutions, defining what its, or is not, a community land trust in Hawaii. This would allow us to establish a special funding stream like the Rental Housing Trust Fund.
I am living in a great three-bedroom house in Wailuku, paying less for my mortgage than what I was paying to rent a one-bedroom apartment. If we truly have the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, we need to provide affordable housing. Dreams do come true. You deserve the same opportunity to own truly affordable housing in perpetuity!
I believe we need to address the constant bottlenecking of our state roadways to ensure Maui does not turn into Oahu. I drive from Wailuku to Lahaina daily, and experience first-hand the increasing congestion that will inevitably result in gridlock. I also believe we deserve safe walkways going from our homes into our cities. I personally want to feel safe walking to First Fridays in downtown Wailuku from Poniu Circle in Kehalani.
I can make this happen because I have a long record of advocating for problems with real solutions. We all need to walk more and you deserve safe walkways.
I believe our state can do a better job in providing higher wages. Economy is driven by demand, demand is driven by wages. It takes a village to raise a child and the village is working two jobs. We must work together to ensure everyone has the opportunity to make a living from one job working reasonable hours. Labor has always been the key in a thriving middle class. A rising tide lifts all boats. Strong unions raise all wages through collective bargaining. Now more than ever we need legislators that support collective bargaining and strong unions.
I can make this happen because I have been a labor leader, and have organized teachers across the state to advocate for adequate pay. I have spent 10 years living pay check to pay check working as a teacher by day and moonlighting as a waiter by night. If other countries in the world can provide a livable wage, so can we.
PONO HAWAIIAN POLICY
The Hawaiian culture is the host culture. I believe the Hawaiian nation was taken over illegally by the United States. I feel that officially recognizing this is an important first step. The state should provide infrastructure for Hawaiian homelands along with more ceded lands. We must ensure that banks will never again participate in redlining, where banks flatly refuse to lend to minorities. To get there we constantly must work to break the institutional racist systems that discriminate against certain sub groups. The Department of Education did an equity study that showed Hawaiians are the most likely to have an unqualified teacher.
I can make this happen because I feel an obligation to right the wrongs done to the host culture. As your representative, I will always fight against discrimination and institutional racism.