Kauaʻi's North Shore has been my home since 1984, and I have been involved in community development for several decades. My focus has been dominantly youth-at-risk, economic development, and education. My professional background has been in business, engineering, public policy and education. For almost ten years, my projects have expanded to embrace growing food at home, farming and increased food security. These are important areas that help to avert the breaking of our social fabric. As Council Committee Chair for Public Safety, my activities have drawn my focus to the prevalence of houselessness and the co-factors of despair, health, incarceration and substance disorder. Policies of support like housing first, social justice and drug treatment are as important as an effective police department.
When approaching the building of policy, I will first work to understand the challenges faced by the people and the providers before creating fresh ordinances. This has included National Association of Counties Leadership Training and joining our NACo Criminal Justice Reform committee, taking the 13-week Citizen Police Academy training, working as a Kauaʻi Economic Opportunity mediator in the court system, spending multiple visits at Kauaʻi Community Correctional Center and attending first responder training and commission meetings. I listen first and look for collaboration before creating policy. This example can be applied equally to other areas like Public Works and infrastructure, Veterans Services, Planning. All is inter-related and holistic policy design is essential.
Hearing the People
As a community affairs programmer on KKCR, I have been listening to an ever-widening group of citizens and issues. Investigating the topics has brought many topic experts and primary-source participants into my close range of focus. Attendance at diverse community meetings from water, land, planning, open space, Department of Hawaiian Homelands, state legislature, county council, events, marches, neighborhood associations and so much more has shifted my viewpoint and added a great sense of responsibility. This first term of office has sharpened my capacity to directly work to influence and, where possible, create legislation to assist forward movement on outcome. I have actively been working with neighborhoods on their flooding, parking, broken roads, taxation and direct concerns that affect their daily lives.
There are many ways in which life on Kauaʻi has grown increasingly difficult, from finding adequate housing to earning a living wage and having access to the beaches and uplands.The result is a strident tug-of-war between folks focused on a healthy environment, a respected host-culture, and those who emphasize a strong economy. We need to find a balance. Vibrant community-based economic development is a goal that is a struggle for most communities in the global economy of the 21st century. Kauaʻi needs to parallel build a thriving, locally-based business economy that supports the community's requirements for a resilient future.
Meeting the Challenges of the Moment
The strident need on the island is the housing crisis. Our aged infrastructure underlies the difficulty in providing housing for people and a cost that is in anyway economically feasible. We can be more self-reliant, with healthy agriculture that provides housing and livable solutions for the people who make Kaua`i their home. My range of experiences, from joyfully working for a large corporation to running my own small business to education to agriculture to activism, has informed my approach of helping build public policy at the county level. Bridging perspectives between those with a core connection to the wisdom and practices of our host culture, those who support the modern economy through their small businesses, and those with loyalty to international employers who offer career stability is essential. Crafting win-win solutions is key for long-term success of any project or goal.
The leadership challenge for Kauaʻi's future lies in increasing self-reliance in a turbulent global economy with shifting power-structures and environmental conditions. Vibrant health can be developed by reclaiming many of the strengths of our past. I look forward to helping respectful dialogue between the many voices of Kauaʻi.
Na wai ke kuleana? Na Kakou!
(Who is responsible? We all are!)
Kauaʻi County Council, 2018-2020
Public Policy Community Development Activist
Kauaʻi County Youth Council, Co-chair
Kauaʻi Workforce Investment Board
Kauaʻi Planning and Action Alliance Visioning group
Kauaʻi General Plan Update Participant
Kilauea Neighborhood Association
North Shore Boating Advisory Council
Small Business Owner
Hanalei Surf Company & HSC Backdoor
Proprietor 18 years (1986-2004)
Kauaʻi North Shore Business Council
13 years (9) as president or vice president
Hoike Community Television, 2017 Producer of the Year
Kauaʻi Community Radio (KKCR), Public Affairs Programmer
Leadership Kauaʻi, Inaugural year student
Hawaiian Alliance for Community Based Economic Development, Year-long training
Mother of Young Men
Ian, 22 & Matthew, 24
Intel Corporation, Engineer and Business Application Programmer
Northern Arizona University, BS, Computer Engineering
Life is the School…Love is the Lesson:
An Adventure in Free Schooling
Co-author with Ian Ikaika Cowden
Akamai Backyard: Residential Subsistence Farming
Regenerations International Botanical Garden, Vice president, 8 years
Kauaʻi Farmers' Union, Member
Waipa Foundation, Volunteer
Akamai Learning Alternative Middle School, Director
Hanalei & Kilauea Schools, Supplemental teacher
SCC, SCBM, PTSA, KELA, Aloha Pre-school, Hanalei, Kilauea, Kapaa High, School Board Member
Kauaʻi Educators Leadership Alliance, Member