Hawai’i was once a completely self-sustaining chain of islands in the middle of the Pacific ocean. We now only produce about 10% of our own food. I strongly believe we need to come together as a community and strengthen Hawai’i agriculture to become more self-sustainable. A frightening statistic is that the average age of Hawai’i farmers is 60 years old. We need to educate and inspire our younger generations to embrace the farming lifestyle. Born into a fourth generation farming family in Wahiawa who established Petersons’ Upland Farm in 1910, I uniquely understand the difficulties facing agriculture in Hawai’i today. As your state legislator I would fight to keep our agricultural lands zoned for their intended use, provide tax incentives for local famers, continue to educate the public on the importance of buying local, and encourage educational programs in our schools such as Future Farmers of America.
Small businesses are the heart of Hawai’i’s economy. I believe that small businesses must be supported by cutting red tape at the state level while maintaining health, environmental and safety standards. I will support small businesses by encouraging legislation that minimizes the regulatory environment which drives up the costs making it difficult for small business owners to survive. I will not support any unreasonable tax increases because small business owners need their hard earned money to continue to grow their businesses.
My priority is getting the economy back on it’s feet and that means creating a business environment that promotes job creation. Too many of our friends and neighbors are out of work. I will work to help create a business environment that fosters job growth by reforming the current regulatory climate.
In order to move Hawai’i forward, education needs to be one of our top priorities. Established in 1840 by Kamehmeha III, Hawai’i has the oldest statewide public education system west of the Mississippi, and In recent years it has been decimated by state budget cuts. I believe that these cuts are undermining Hawai’i’s economic recovery and stalling progress for generations of students and their families. I am dedicated to finding common ground among parents, teachers, principals, small & large local businesses, industries and educational institutions to rebuild our schools.
Every one of the schools in our state are uniquely different. We cannot put them all through the same cookie cutter system and expect different results. I believe that a greater percentage of the money allocated for education needs to be given directly to the schools so they can determine how to best teach their students. As a product of the Hawai’i public school system I was privileged to attend school at a time when we had music and arts programs and a full time Physical Education teacher. Unfortunately most schools in Hawai’i today don’t offer these programs because of lack of funding, and I believe our children are suffering because of it. If we cut wasteful spending from the top and bring the money down to the level of the individual schools, we can take the first step toward a brighter future for our keiki.
I believe there is no reason that economic prosperity and environmental protection cannot go hand-in-hand. We can and should work with economists and the environmental community to maintain and preserve the natural environment that makes Hawai’i such a special place to live. We must lead the way for clean energy solutions in Hawai’i in order to reap the economic benefits of environmental progress and achieve our mission of protecting Hawai’i’s fragile environment.