Name on ballot:
Honolulu city council – District 1
Motivational Speaker, Life Coach & Trainer
Previous job history:
– Major, U.S. Air Force (Retired) Fighter Squadron Intelligence Officer; Military Intelligence Research Analyst, Strategic Planner; Air Defense Expert; Military Readiness & Inspection Team, Force Manager; Executive Officer
– Small Business Owner. Motivational Speaker and Trainer; Fine Art Photographer
– Director-Consultant for BNI Hawaii, an international business networking organization
– Director of Community Affairs for a city councilmember
– Community Program Manager for a national well-being program
Previous elected office, if any:
Please describe your qualifications to represent the people of Oahu.
I am a retired Air Force major with 35 years professional experience at local, national, and international levels. As an intelligence officer I trained fighter pilots on enemy threats and ensured units operated at peak capability. I’m used to working in fast-paced, high profile environments where lives are on the line. After retiring from the Air Force, I worked in city government, held leadership roles in the private sector, and am a community volunteer and advocate. I’m known for my work as a motivational speaker, trainer, and fine-art photographer.
I’ve been honored as one of the 100 Most Influential Filipina Women in the U.S. For my work in helping others succeed, I’ve been recognized as the Hawaii State SBA Women in Business Champion and as one of the Top 25 Businesswomen of the Year. I’ve been recognized as one of the “10 Women of West Oahu Shaping Kapolei” and have lived in Hawaii 25 years.
What is the most pressing need for the people you seek to represent, and what can you do to address that need?
Aside from the important issues of transportation and the economy, the most pressing issue I am currently hearing expressed by residents is the fear of increased property taxes and ensuring fiscal responsibility at Honolulu Hale.
I’ve reviewed City Auditor reports and have deep concerns over the apparent lack of fiscal responsibility and transparency. There is a lack of quality control, lack of communication and coordination between departments, and concern over span-of-control and excessive management levels. All of this relates to how well our City Departments are serving the needs of the taxpayers and how our taxpayer dollars are being spent. One of my proposals is to create a Department of Oversight and Accountability to do the following: 1) Ensure recommendations by the City Auditor are followed or followed up; 2) Ensure interdepartmental coordination and oversight on any project or constituent concern; 3) Development of economic impact assessments/statements as part of a project planning process—we need to know the cost to the community through end-life of a project. (For example, wind farm presentations to our community did not include what happens when the turbines fail or reach their end-life at 18-20 years. Who pays for tearing them down, removing them to a landfill or recycling facility, and reclamation and restoration of the land they were on?)
As Hawaii faces the COVID-19 pandemic, what more should county government do to protect residents’ health?
From my military experience working on Crisis Action Teams, it is important that any efforts undertaken by the City/County of Honolulu not be repetitive or counter-productive of any initiatives undertaken at the State level. Any action initiated by the City/County must be done so with clear objectives and executed as efficiently and financially responsibly as this unpredictable situation will allow. That is why Council oversight and Administration transparency is paramount. It is also why clear lines of communication and cooperation be established and maintained between the Governor (and the State Department of Health) and the Mayor, as well as between the Mayor and the City Council. Through coordinated efforts between State and City/County, we can ensure that information disseminated, and services provided to the public are done so as quickly and efficiently as possible. This also minimizes the potential for confusing the public with separate policies and/or messages that are in conflict.
Currently, the City has an excellent resource page on its website that provides information ranging from the latest on COVID-19 to providing links to departments and agencies such as the State DOH, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Hawaii Hospital and Healthcare Systems. There are also links for the small business relief and recovery fund, programs for individual hardships due to this pandemic and much more. This is an excellent resource and I feel it is vitally important that the Administration be provided the financial
resources to maintain the most up-to-date and accurate information to help our residents, and to also improve outreach to those people who require assistance finding the correct resources.
What should county government do to help residents who have been economically affected by the pandemic?
As we know, many people have lost their jobs secondary to pandemic related closures. As such, the State Department of Labor and Industrial Relations was unprepared to handle the flood of claims that ensued. It is my understanding that people are still waiting over two months to have their Unemployment Insurance claims process. While this is a State function, this still negatively affects the residents of the City and County of Honolulu. As mentioned in my answer above, the City already has information on its Department of Community Services
website that guides economically affected individuals how to apply for emergency funding made available through the CARES act. These funds became available as of May 18, 2020 and provides that applicants must demonstrate economic hardship due to COVID-19 or related business closures. County government should make every effort, through public service announcements via broadcast and print media and through social media, to see that the public be continuously reminded how to access this program.
Other relief measures that should be in place (or continued if already in place) should range from suspension and/or reduction of fees related to licensing and property taxes. The county should work collaboratively with state agencies, non-profits, community groups and local businesses to make sure food banks are well stocked and points of distribution are well established.
Should public worker furloughs, pay cuts or downsizing be used to help the county deal with lower tax revenues and higher expenses during the pandemic? Why or why not?
Before any type of furloughs, pay cuts or downsizing is used to help deal with lower tax revenues and higher expenses, I believe the City should first re-analyze and prioritize how City funds are being spent and identify areas of savings or revenue generation.
City financial responsibility is one of my highest priorities. I recommend the City take action on reports provided by the Office of the City Auditor. Upon reviewing these reports going back to 2004, I am concerned at the lack of progress City Departments have taken in response. These audits have outlined areas of improvement—to include recommendations where millions of dollars could have been saved and efficiency improved. At present, City Departments update the City Council when it’s time to review and justify their annual budget requests. My recommendation is Departments provide a quarterly progress and accountability report. A recent audit of the Department of Parks and Recreation shows over $49 million in Council-initiated Park Capital Improvement Program projects went unspent between FY 2015 and FY 2017 because the department “lacks awareness of its CIP projects and does not sufficiently track financial data.” Another audit shows that the City could have cut about $7 million in costs if it had diverted recycled materials to the H-Power facility. This same audit showed that diverting recycled materials could have generated about $30 million in revenues as the H-Power facility converts solid waste into electricity, which is then sold to Hawaiian Electric. These are just some of the examples of areas where the City could be spending taxpayer dollars more judiciously–before considering worker furloughs, pay cuts or downsizing.
What specific solutions do you propose to combat homelessness?
We need to take a hard look at what’s not working–and the first thing I note is that the City and State need to work more collaboratively. We keep putting band aid fixes on the problem and we’re still bleeding. City Audit 2017 states “the city and state lack a strategic plan for homelessness that establishes specific timelines, performance benchmarks, allocation of resources and other quantitative measures of success. Leveraging and pooling of resources are lost. City and state offer similar programs. As an example, both City and State support Housing First – but the city’s program costs 48% more.” We need to devise a better plan based on a truly collaborative effort at the City and State levels in order to better leverage manpower resources and federal, state, and city funding.
Do you support or oppose stopping construction of the rail project at Middle Street? Please explain.
I believe the rail project should continue to Ala Moana based on the Federal Full Funding Agreement. That being said, I will advocate for stricter oversight and management of the rail project.
Do you support or oppose using new city funds to cover any shortfall in HART’s construction or operating costs? Please explain.
It is my understanding that HART continues to refuse/cooperate with a forensic audit. Until they do cooperate and until a thorough forensic audit is conducted, the question of using city funds to cover any shortfall is off the table. There must be full and complete transparency and accountability at HART as well as every city department and agency.
Do you support reforms to policing in Hawaii? If yes, please explain what reforms you support.
Being a police officer is extremely stressful, at times thankless, and always dangerous. And yet, every day these people proudly put on their uniform to serve. With that said, from incidents of excessive force to accusations of corruption and abuse of power, it’s no secret that HPD has had its problems. Denying they exist, or failing to properly address them is irresponsible, an insult to the many officers who serve with honor every day, and an insult to the people of Oahu. Chief Ballard’s recent claim that there is no racial bias is at best myopic. The recent resignations of two members of the police commission is an example of the frustration felt by those charged with the oversight of city departments who refuse to acknowledge any problems exist. The officers I’ve spoken to take pride in the jobs they do and they want to be able to do them as safely as possible. A loss of the public’s trust and respect hinders that. Better screening and training of personnel, a police commission with strong oversight, and top-down transparency is a must if we expect progress.
What can county government do to mitigate the affects of sea-level rise on Oahu?
In order to mitigate the effects of sea-level rise, we must first understand what they are. District 1 will be heavily affected by climate change due to flooding, shoreline loss, damage to infrastructure, and decreased precipitation. The entire Wai’anae Coast is/will be impacted by rising sea levels as there is only one highway allowing residents into or out of the area. Our district also houses numerous industrial projects serving the island—two landfills; Kahe Power Plant, two refineries and four power generating facilities at Campbell Industrial Park; and the island’s largest solar farm located in Wai’anae Valley and solar farms on Kaleloa. Our district also has a high number of parks, gathering spaces, cultural and historic areas, and residential communities located near shorelines. Also, the large number of farms on the Waianae Coast which serve the entire island of Oahu will be impacted not only by the single road access, but also by decreased rainfall, freshwater availability, the potential for flooding and disruption of healthy ecosystems. Here in Hawaii—and most specifically on Oahu—we need to immediately develop and implement strategies to make Hawaii more resilient in order to protect our food and water security, shorelines, marine ecosystems, infrastructure, and health. As scientific data becomes available to more precisely predict the effects, we need to analyze this data and prioritize our plans accordingly.
Is there anything more that you would like voters to know about you?
I’m running for City Council because I understand and accept the 4-year commitment. I’m experienced on the issues throughout the entire District, I know how city government works, I have the leadership skills as a retired military officer and a business-minded background. I respect and appreciate the history and culture of Hawaii and will actively advocate for our past, present, and future.
I’ve got the life experience to understand what many are going through. I’ve been a single parent, a caregiver to a terminally ill spouse, a widow, I’m a cancer survivor, and a small business owner. I believe all of these experiences have shaped me to understand and to better serve the people of Oahu.
I’ll use these real-world experiences to inform my decisions on the City Council.
As a military veteran, I know the meaning of service and sacrifice. I’ll get the job done with dignity and respect; integrity and maturity; and transparency and compassion.
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