"Preserving our quality of life is one of the
most urgent issues facing our City."
My grandparents bought their home in Kaneohe for under 20k. Those prices are long gone. It is obvious that the City’s affordable housing program is just not working. It hasn’t in decades. Not enough affordable housing is required in new developments. When we look at the prices of these brand new homes, it is hard not to ask who are they building for? The City also offers too little in buyer and rental assistance. As transit-oriented development begins to take form in our district, we need to make real changes now. But reforming affordable housing and increasing rental assistance will take courage. The courage to put residents first. If elected, fixing the City’s housing programs will be a top priority.
City Spending & Infrastructure
Each year the City approves a massive CIP budget. This is the meat and potatoes of government spending. Road paving to playgrounds are all funded in the City’s CIP. Unfortunately, over the last decade, our district has received very little in CIP funding. We deserve better. Taking the politics out of the CIP and developing a fair-spending policy across districts will take character and strong leadership at the City Council.
Defeating Corruption & Strengthening Public Integrity
Strengthening public integrity and transparency are fundamental to defeating corruption. Despite years of enduring, our City has done almost nothing to restore the public’s faith and trust in government. We cannot continue to bury our heads and make excuses for government. We must hold government accountable. It will require strong character at the Council to address corruption decisively. My commitment to you, if elected, I will work diligently to make all ethic complaints public, limit the use of executive session in the City, limit immunity, remove the costs for open records, require police body-cam videos are posted online, enact stronger laws against pay-to-play politics, and to adopt a comprehensive citywide reform and anti-corruption plan.
In 2006, like many of you, I sat in gridlock for hours after a military vehicle struck the overpass. It was, of course, not the first or last time we would waste hours sitting in heavy traffic. Rail will not solve traffic. Rail will provide working people with transportation choice. I have always been a rail supporter. However, this doesn’t mean that the current out of control cost and the constant project changes is acceptable. In fact, it’s ridiculous. Our district recently bore the brunt of rail mishandling when its long promised park and ride facility was unceremoniously removed from the rail project. After research, I confirmed that removing the park and ride first appeared in 2018. Not one City official found a solution in almost four years. Even worse we the public didn't realize the park and ride would be postponed until 2022. This is the exact behavior that has caused distrust and dislike of the rail project.
The City Council exercises little control over the project or HART. And HART behaves like public funding is endless. Both must change. To regain control, the Council must adopt a rail transparency policy for spending and demand an improved CIP program. HART also needs to secure other revenue streams now, such as advertising or developer fees. Finally, we must create a new fiscal and accountability board to oversee project finances and to better advise the Council.
Our City remains one of the safest places to live and our public safety departments are the among highest funded programs in the City. However, we still have work to do. Many residents feel that certain offenses have long been ignored. And this is impacting our quality of life. As a member of the Pearl City Neighborhood Board, I requested that the City establish a Digital Neighborhood Watch program and also create a new enforcement and outreach department for the City. A new code enforcement arm, a digital watch, plus re-investing in community policing initiatives will increase quality enforcement and outreach, empower residents, and improve the quality of life in our communities.
Climate Change and Sea Level Rise
The city must do more than charge residents to address climate change. And while the city has made strides in making plans, we can still take more action to become a zero-waste and zero-emission community. Immediately developing telework benchmarks for city agencies can help to decrease emissions and cooling costs. Adopting a timeline for all city facilities to transition to solar power and smart buildings is already long overdue. Prioritizing grant-in-aid funding for residential solar installations and to bolster the recycling industry, will help us to maintain our top “green” rating. On a larger scale, the city must advocate to harden our infrastructure against rising sea levels and pursue urban greening for sidewalks and paving. Plus, we must also mandate increased affordable housing, green spaces, and solar power all new developments. Lastly, while we strive to do our part to help our planet, we must decrease waste and develop waste-to-energy facilities that are environmentally sound.
Homelessness is a humanitarian crisis at the local level. We cannot arrest our way out of homelessness. We must proactively work to prevent homelessness and actively house those in need of help. Recently, federal COVID recovery funds have been earmarked to help establish everything from wrap-around services to shelters. This is a good start. However, we must also concentrate on preventive services such as housing, rental, and utility assistance. We must work to keep local people thriving and offer aid if they encounter financial, health, or housing crises. Finally, as one of the larger employers in Honolulu, the City must evaluate its current pay structure and its benefit package. Way too many of our essential public employees live near or at the poverty line.