Issues

For All People of Hawai‘i

In my business and volunteer roles, I have always listened and worked with others to improve lives. If I become your Governor, I will work with all sectors: government, businesses, unions, and nonprofit organizations to create viable solutions that address Hawaii’s challenges and get the job done with a sense of urgency.

Thirty-four years ago, I co-founded United Laundry Services, a commercial laundry company that serves healthcare centers and hotels. As its President, I’ve had the honor and privilege of providing leadership and strategy to this company, which has grown to become Hawaii’s largest laundry services provider. I developed a business model that encouraged innovative and progressive thinking, and we pushed the boundaries of our original vision to achieve greater goals. Today, we operate facilities in Hilo, Kona, Kahului, Lahaina and Honolulu.

The company’s success was built on my belief and practice of working collaboratively, listening to others’ opinions, being decisive, and treating employees with respect. I plan to bring this experience to the governorship, applying my decades of lessons learned to partnering with all areas of government and our community to forge effective and efficient solutions that make a positive impact across our state.

Hawai‘i has been good to my family and me. I feel so fortunate to live, work and have raised my children in our beautiful state. I feel a strong obligation to give back and do my utmost to improve the lives of our people at a higher level. It goes beyond one person to make a difference. Together, we can do this.

COVID-19 Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has immensely disrupted our health, our hospital and elder care system, and our local way of life. It is imperative that we curb the spread as quickly as possible to protect health and safety. We must provide clarity, consistency, and communication across the state and have a system that is timely and responsive to changes. Masking, social distancing and vaccination are essential tools to break the chain of infection. We cannot afford another lock down. Protecting public health while respecting people’s rights is essential. Creating a plan and working with the legislature and counties will be top priority. As a state, we also need to plan and be prepared for future pandemics.

Environmental Challenges

Climate Change
Our islands have seen the effects of global climate change that contribute to coastal erosion, sea level rise, and flooding. We have witnessed the deterioration of our roads and bridges, the shrinking of our beaches, and the degradation of our coral reefs. Climate change threatens our way of life and the quality of life in the Islands. We can no longer kick the can down the road. While we fulfill our responsibilities of reducing carbon emissions, we must also address the negative impacts on our infrastructure and natural resources. We must develop a viable plan to protect our islands against the effects of climate change and preserve our ‘āina and way of life for future generations.

Animal Welfare
Kindness and compassion often start with how we treat animals, whether they are in the wild or domesticated. The way in which we respect and care for them reflects how we treat one another. Every animal deserves to be treated humanely. We must protect animals—who have no voice—and do more to prevent and end animal cruelty and suffering.

Economy and Sustainable Tourism

Tourism has always been, and will continue to be, our number one industry. However, we need to redefine tourism and, in particular, focus on sustainable tourism. We must factor in the needs of our residents and our natural environment, which make Hawai‘i a world-class destination. Creating a plan for sustainable tourism will require collaboration between the hospitality industry, business sector, unions, community groups, and government. We need to welcome our visitors in a way that is sustainable for Hawai‘i and is not disruptive to our residents.

At the same time, Hawai‘i needs to diversify its economy. This includes developing sustainable agriculture, which contributes to food security and supports our restaurant industry. We need to have greater communication and collaboration between the public and private sector, including the state, the university, farmers, restaurants and the visitor industry.

Health Care

Hawai‘i can be proud of the high quality healthcare standards offered to our residents. We have excellent hospitals, skillful medical technicians and nurses as well as exceptional doctors. However, the entire system is being challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic. Hawai‘i has a vaccination plan and, currently, the governor and mayors are focused on getting more people vaccinated. What is missing and needed is a plan to deal with living with the pandemic for the foreseeable future and a plan to deal with the uncertainties of the next crisis.

Meanwhile, Hawai‘i faces a less visible but real crisis: We have a shortage of doctors, particularly on the neighbor islands. Physicians are leaving for the same reasons others leave: high cost of living, better employment and professional opportunities on the mainland. The University of Hawai‘i John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) is highly rated among the nation’s best medical schools. We need to stem the tide while supporting JABSOM in producing physicians who will stay and work in Hawai‘i, particularly on the neighbor islands.

Education

Education is critical to equal opportunity. Whether our young people choose college or a trade, we owe our youth a quality education that will enable them to live, work and compete anywhere in a rapidly changing world. And although such changes may require the public education system to adapt, innovate, and teach new concepts, the basic skills of reading, writing, arithmetic, and critical thinking are constants that remain unchanged. These are essential for success, whether a student aspires to become an engineer or lawyer, or a carpenter or electrician.

Developing that quality public education system will require political leaders and parents to listen and engage those who know education best: teachers, principals, and key stakeholders of the system. Additionally, we must do more for our youngest children through a universal preschool system. It is imperative to get our keiki on the right educational path from an early age.

Affordable Housing

The cost of housing in Hawai‘i is the highest in the nation and a major reason for the exodus of many residents who are moving to other states. Past efforts by the state government to promote home ownership have not proven successful. Moreover, studies show that between 25% to 30% of American citizens will be lifetime renters. Those who rent include many who live paycheck to paycheck. These people particularly need our state government’s help.

The development of affordable housing rentals will be a top priority. Creating effective strategies for an affordable rental plan will require consulting with a wide variety of stakeholders, including builders, contractors, developers, trade unions, community groups and nonprofit organizations.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in our state has spiraled out of control. The high costs of housing, energy (electricity), food, land, and transportation—combined with low wages—create financial hardships for many. This situation makes it impossible for many in our younger generation to even consider staying in Hawai‘i as their home. This is not only a matter of separation for many families, but it has a long term negative impact on our state as we lose some of our best and brightest to the mainland. We have to stem this tide to ensure the future of our Hawai‘i.

Safety in our Society

There are two areas that are of great concern in our communities: Crime and Homelessness. Both of these issues affect the safety of our residents and visitors. And, both issues are complex and require dedicated resources.

We know that partnerships are key when addressing homelessness. We will engage businesses in the process of finding solutions so that homeless individuals on the street will not simply be moved from one location to another. We need to work together to create a better plan.

Partnerships are also valuable to curb crime. There is no doubt that criminal activity has become increasingly brazen with more home armed invasions and younger individuals going on crime sprees. We have seen more violent acts among our most vulnerable—our kūpuna and homeless individuals. It will be important to reach out and discuss these issues with the counties and bring solutions to effectively address safety in our society.

Native Hawaiian Concerns

The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) protests revealed that there are many deep seated issues affecting Native Hawaiians. From water rights to ceded lands, it will be important to meet with Native Hawaiian leaders to learn what concerns them most and explore the possibilities of what can be done to resolve these challenges. For example, the problems surrounding the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands involving the slow progress of getting Native Hawaiian beneficiaries into housing units on homestead lands—with many waiting for decades—will be a top priority. Native Hawaiian issues can no longer be swept aside.

Arts, Culture and Our Island Way of Life

Hawai‘i is a melting pot that celebrates our host culture and a wide variety of ethnic cultures. The Arts are an important part of our island way of life, bringing us together as a people. Whether it’s music, dance, art, photography or video, the creative arts enable us to express our thoughts, values, and shared experiences. They educate, inspire, and uplift us. The Arts create a conducive environment where people can thrive, respect, and enjoy each other.