comscore 2022 Election: Shaina Forsyth | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Election

2022 Election: Shaina Forsyth

  • Shaina Forsyth
Name on ballot:

Shaina Forsyth

Running for:

State Senate – District 6

Political party:

Democratic

Campaign website:

shainaforsythformaui.com

Current occupation:

Director of Residences

Age:

37

Previous job history:

Concierge at Montage Kapalua Bay

Dinner Server at Kimo’s Restaurant in Lahaina

Naturalist at the Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment program at the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua

Teaching Assistant at the University of California, Santa Barbara

Geologist at Kleinfelder Engineering

Previous elected office, if any:

None

Please describe your qualifications to represent the people of Hawaii.

I was born and raised in Lahaina and grew up in the small-town community of West Maui. As such, I have a deep-rooted passion to serve our community and our beautiful island of Maui.

I attended the public schools of the west side, King Kamehameha III Elementary School, Lahaina Intermediate School, and Lahainaluna High School, so I have a good understanding of the public school system in Hawaii. I then attended UCLA, where I earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering Geology. I worked in that industry in Los Angeles, conducting environmental soil sampling, water sampling, and writing Environmental Impact Statements. I then went on to UC Santa Barbara, where I earned a Master’s Degree in Environmental Science and Management, with an emphasis on Conservation Planning. After graduating, I moved back to my hometown of Lahaina and have been working in the hospitality industry.

My background in science gives me an analytical approach to problem solving. I like to look at all data and hear all perspectives before making a decision. Should I be elected to the Hawaii State Senate, I plan to bring this approach to the Legislature.

I also have real world experience in managing teams of people and operations. I am the Director of Residences at Montage Kapalua Bay, overseeing two homeowner associations and managing a team that provides service to the residents. Over the years, I have worked with many stakeholders with varying opinions and needs, and have strived to provide the best solutions for the majority.

What is the most pressing issue facing residents in your district and how would you address the problem?

I believe many would agree that the housing shortage is the most pressing issue facing the residents of West and South Maui. Lahaina, Kihei, and Wailea are where most of the hospitality jobs are located in Maui, and yet, there is an extreme shortage of housing for the working class people in these areas.

I plan to address this problem by working with the State, County of Maui, and key stakeholders to identify areas to build neighborhoods for our working class families. By partnering with the County, we can help lower development costs for land acquisition, as well as the installation of the necessary infrastructure. These cost savings can be passed on to home buyers.

Rising inflation has significantly worsened Hawaii’s already high cost of living. What can be done at the state level to help Hawaii residents cope with high consumer prices?

At the State level, the Legislature has been working hard to ease the financial burden to working class families. If I am elected, I plan to continue to support recently proposed bills, and work to bring more to the table. The Legislature is working to strengthen the earned income tax credit, raise the minimum wage, provide tax rebates, and increase access to housing. I promise to continue to support these initiatives.

Hawaii’s rising gasoline prices are among the highest in the nation. Should Hawaii lower or temporarily suspend state taxes on gasoline to help ease the pain at the pump?

More research may be needed here. Data suggests that a temporary suspension of state taxes on gasoline may only have marginal benefits to the people of Hawaii.

Do you support or oppose efforts to slow or limit the number of tourists to Hawaii? Please explain.

I support efforts to limit the number of tourists coming to Hawaii. Hospitality is a very important part of Hawaii’s economy and it always will be. However, we have reached a tipping point where the level of tourism is starting to affect our natural resources and the quality of life for our residents. I support efforts to better manage tourism and keep the number of tourists to a reasonable level, to help improve the quality of life for Hawaii residents and protect our valuable natural resources and delicate ecosystems.

Can Hawaii’s tourism-dependent economy be diversified, and, if so, what can state government do to support the effort?


I believe our economy in Hawaii can be diversified. In recent history, the Kingdom of Hawaii was entirely self reliant when it came to food production. I believe we can move back toward that goal. I want to support local farmers to increase food production in our state, so that more residents can eat locally grown and produced food. This will keep money in our state, support our local farmers, and reduce shipping costs.

We can also bring more jobs to Hawaii with the renewable energy industry. We have abundant opportunities to capture energy from wind, solar, and biofuels.

Finally, I believe we can make sustainability and tourism more symbiotic. By continuing to educate our population, we can find ways to shift our tourism economy to a more eco-tourism mindset.

What is your plan to increase affordable housing in Hawaii, and to help the counties deal with homelessness?

In Maui, Maui County has partnered with developers to subsidize and build new affordable housing neighborhoods in Lahaina, Napili, Kihei, and upcountry. We need to keep this momentum and keep adding new affordable housing developments.

More housing will ultimately eventually help reduce homelessness, but in the meantime, we need to continue to support shelters and local organizations that provide assistance to those suffering from homelessness.

What would you propose to help protect Hawaii residents’ health during the continuing COVID-19 pandemic?

We now know much more about the COVID-19 pandemic than we did in 2020. Hawaii residents know it is important to wash their hands regularly, stay home when they are sick, and to get tested quickly if they develop any symptoms that may signify the presence of COVID-19. If we all remain alert and vigilant, we can help manage through this pandemic while still pursuing our work, hobbies, and personal interests.

Hawaii isn’t likely to see a repeat of this year’s $2 billion revenue surplus which allowed higher-than-normal spending on state programs and projects. If elected, what will your top spending priorities be?

My top spending priorities will be: Housing, education, and environment.

What, if anything, should state government do in response to the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs Wade?

I believe a woman should have the right to choose her own future and make choices about her own body and healthcare. Here in Hawaii, we need to protect at all costs, a woman’s right to choose. If I am elected, I plan to fight to defend this right in Hawaii.

What should state government do to support and improve public education in Hawaii?

We need to continue to prioritize spending on our public schools, so that our schools can stay up to date with technology, curriculum, and facilities.

Another issue facing our educational system is that teachers are being priced out of Hawaii. If teachers cannot afford to live in Hawaii, our keiki suffer. We need to support living wages for teachers, and provide them with affordable housing opportunities to help retain their talents here in our islands.

What reforms, if any, would you propose to make local government more transparent to the public?

I believe our elected representatives in the Legislature need to take to heart their Oath of Office. Legislators are elected to represent and serve the people, and their Oath is serious.

I would like to provide more resources to the State Ethics Commission, so they can better oversee our elected representatives.

It will also be important to tightly engage Hawaii media, so they can report in real time to the people of Hawaii.

Do you support or oppose the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on the Big Island and why?

I support the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), as long as there is continual close communication with the native Hawaiian community. Maunakea is culturally and spiritually significant to the Hawaiian people. The National Science Foundation and other partners in TMT should continue to engage the native Hawaiian community in every step of the process. If this is done, I believe that the Thirty Meter Telescope can be constructed in a way that minimizes impact, and provides great benefit to humanity’s continued advancement of science. The Thirty Meter Telescope will provide opportunities for new scientific discovery, and will also provide educational opportunities to students in Hawaii. The Thirty Meter Telescope will also bring jobs to Hawaii and keep Hawaii at the cutting edge of astronomical research.

Is there anything more that you would like voters to know about you?

I believe people in Hawaii are looking for change. As a new candidate, I bring fresh energy and motivation, and fresh perspectives. It is time for a new chapter in our Hawaii State Legislature. Please vote for me, Shaina Forsyth, for Hawaii State Senate, District 6.


View more candidate questionnaires or see more 2022 Hawaii elections coverage.
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