Smart Economic Growth:
For the Maui community to thrive, we need to create ways for our small business owners, farmers, and working families to keep up with the rising cost of living. We can do this by creating opportunities for smart, steady growth. When we take steps forward with economic progress in mind, we must also consider the impacts of that growth on our island’s precious and limited natural resources and on future generations.
I have been advocating for a thriving, diversified agricultural community in our beautiful Upcountry lands. Our rich soil can sustain us, and can generate a strong local industry that feeds our people and stewards our precious resources responsibly.
Our residents need access to solid jobs that create a positive impact on our island, while providing a living wage at the same time. I will be a strong advocate for legislation that supports the working people of Maui, keeping in mind that we can all “do well by doing good”.
A critical issue facing our island’s families
If you are working full-time on Maui, and especially if you are a member of working family, you should be able to afford to pay your rent or mortgage payment, with enough income left over to take care of living expenses for yourself and your children. Unfortunately, with our visitor industry increasingly dependent upon the more affordable option of vacation rentals as an alternative to expensive resorts, there is a strong incentive for property owners to market their units for the visitor industry. This provides property owners with drastically more income, and prices out local families and hard-working community members.
If we would like to retain a knowledgeable, experienced, high-quality work force on Maui (and believe me, we do), we must create opportunities for them to live reasonably, comfortably, and at rates they can afford while creating stability for their families. For most, homeownership is a pipe dream with the current state of our housing market. Affordable housing units need to be truly affordable, and developers must be held to higher standards. If they are able to break ground on new, high-end homes, they must also build truly sustainable housing opportunities that support our workforce for the long term.
From our farms to your table – a new era for Maui Ag
Upcountry Maui is positioned to become the answer to our food security issues, while providing fresher and more nutritious foods that enhance the overall health of our families.
Organic and sustainable farmers who are stewarding our lands , feeding our communities, and contributing to our health and wellness should be given priority when it comes to access to prime farmland and limited water resources. In creating incentives and credits for our small-scale diversified farms, we will encourage local farming. We can use local foods where possible in school lunches and state and county contracts to utilize food in programs it sponsors. We can design policies that promote the recruitment of new farmers by providing access to appropriate lands that can be farmed in environmentally friendly ways.
With smart planning, we will provide the infrastructure needed to support the growth of smaller scale and decentralized farming by family farmers, while making our families healthier and more connected to their local farmer.
Hawaiians historically have lived in harmony with the land, while providing abundant food crops for the people. I will be a strong advocate for Hawaiian farmers, especially those that grow taro, which will in turn enhance the overall sustainability of local food production and security. We can protect the entire infrastructure needed to grow taro in its traditional way, which simultaneously enhances the environmental and cultural resources, providing adequate stream flow left free of pollution.
A NOTE ON THE USE OF PESTICIDES:
Our communities look to government leadership as legal guardians of their health and welfare. Therefore, it is absolutely imperative that we pass legislation to regulate the use of pesticides and any toxic chemical farming additives - especially around schools, parks, and watershed areas. In the face of big development and large agribusiness interests, Maui needs stronger advocacy for agricultural viability and land stewardship. I will be that advocate.
Ua Mau ke Ea o ka ʻĀina i ka Pono: The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.
“A nation that destroys its soil destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
We are all blessed to call Maui our home, whether we have been here for generations, or are recently arrived to Maui. To the outsider, however, Maui is a superficial tropical paradise. In taking a closer look, we learn that upwards of 90% of our native ecosystems have been destroyed or removed, and if you speak to conservation experts, they will tell you that we are considered to be the world’s epicenter of species extinction. It is time to wake up, before all of Hawaii’s original species – which are inextricably entwined in the Hawaiian culture – are gone forever. We must learn to look at nature as part of us, not as something for us to exploit for economic gain. Without it, we are nothing.
In addition to being greatly at risk due to human development and resource extraction, the ecosystem on Maui is fragile: the species that have evolved here are not equipped to fight the impacts of humans. For example, a new invasive species arrives here once every 18 days, often due to the fact that we import 90% of our food. Our native flora and fauna are defenseless, and we spend a great deal of money, resources, and time combatting our invasive species problem.
Development close to the ocean and important watersheds is resulting in run-off, irreversible reef damage, and water pollution. As a lifelong waterwoman and strong ocean advocate, I will continue to pursue efforts to conserve ocean, land and natural resources. It is all connected, from mauka to makai, and we must work hard to leave this place in better shape then when we found it.
Investing in our teachers and schools is an investment in our future as a community
Our education system in Hawaii is nothing without our teachers, and unfortunately around 55 percent of new-arriving teachers in Hawaii leave the district within their first five years on the job. Conditions have become increasingly harder for our teachers over time: we expect more from them as educational standards become stricter and more student assessments are required, and in the meantime, we don’t pay our teachers nearly enough in a place that is known as the most expensive state in the U.S. This is not a recipe for success by any stretch of the imagination, and we need to generously support the people who dedicate their careers and their lives to our children.
We must ensure all students access to quality education, regardless of their household income, or what district their school falls in. Educational spending on our children is a form of a human capital investment that will yield a return in the form of higher quality of life in the future.
OUR HOMELESSNESS CRISIS:
Housing first, with support for lasting stability
The homelessness problem in Hawaii has reached a critical point: we now have the highest rate of homelessness per capita, higher than both New York and Nevada. This increase is driven by years of rising costs in our state, low wages and limited land.
We must first start by providing housing for the houseless. Providing homes and support services to the chronically homeless costs less than the expensive cycle many repeatedly experience, including emergency room care for preventable illnesses and injuries, jails, temporary shelters, and psychiatric hospitals.
The Housing First approach to homelessness is simple: provide stable, permanent housing first, and then combine that housing with supportive treatment services in mental and physical health, substance abuse, education, and employment.