Candidates Name: Maile Shimabukuro
Party Affiliation: Democrat
Age (as of Sept. 7, 2008 ) and Birth date: 37, 10/01/70
Office sought (include district if applicable): House District 45
Profession or current employment: lawyer for a non profit legal services organization
Other pertinent experience (Please include a 10 words or less on your background.): reporter, law clerk, research assistant, paralegal, cashier, newspaper carrier, waitress
What qualifies you to be a state representative?
I have served as representative of district 45 since 2003, and have been the chair of the Human Services and Housing Committee since 2007. I have worked as a paralegal and now an attorney at a non profit legal services office since 1992, and specialize in public benefit, family and housing law. I am a member of the Wai`anae Lion’s Club, MA’O Organic Farm ad hoc fundraising committee, HI Children’s Trust Fund Advisory Board, Governor’s Affordable Housing Regulatory Review Board; and co-chair of the Health and Human Services Committee of the Democratic Party of HI. For more information, visit: http://electmaile.blogspot.com/
What is the most important issue facing your district and, if elected, what will you do about it?
The sense that we are not entirely in control of our own destiny, eg, in the areas of development, land use, and resource-allocation, for instance. I like what they’ve done in areas like the North Shore with land trusts. I am working on organizing the purchase of agricultural land in Waianae for a self-help housing farming co-op. I also want to tap the City’s Clean Water and Natural Lands fund to create more parks and restore streams. Further, I am fighting the Lingle administration’s attempts to take resources away from community based non profits like Hale Na`au Pono and AlohaCare.
What is one thing you would do in office to improve the local economy?
Establishing government-sponsored universal healthcare would make it easier to start small businesses by relieving employers from the high cost of insuring their employees. A universal healthcare system could also free individuals from liability fears, and thereby encourage things like medical facilities, professional firms, skateparks, self-help housing projects, construction companies, and other endeavors that are often stalled due to the high costs of liability insurance. Similarly, government-sponsored universal college education would fill the gap we now have in professionals, stop the “brain drain,” and create more home grown entrepreneurs and businesses.
Do you support convening a Constitutional Convention? Please explain.
Yes. We need a forum for non-elected officials and other minority voices to be heard. Measures that passed, such as the Important Agricultural Lands bill, and measures that failed, such as the ban on genetically modified taro, were very upsetting to many. We need to strengthen the charge to protect agricultural land. Most on the Leeward Coast are distraught by the loss of Aloun and other farms, and the leveling of gigantic tracks of former farm land for thousands of new homes. We must change the makeup of the LUC/Planning Commission and require environmental and Hawaiian culture specialists as members.
Do you support Oahus planned rail-transit system ? Please explain.
I support mass transit, whether it’s rail or another version. I have concerns about the steel-on-steel proposal due to the cost implications. Traffic on the Leeward Coast has always been horrendous, and is only getting worse. The rising cost of gas is making it impossible for many to continue to drive. Our bus system is decent, but needs to be enhanced. Anything (within reason) to help make a commute without a car easier is worth supporting. The system must accommodate the needs of the Waianae Coast , perhaps with a station at Ko Olina that would benefit tourists and locals alike.
What can the Legislature do to improve Hawaiis public education?
Simple – air condition the schools! New school buildings must utilize renewable energy for air conditioning, or be built to take advantage of natural cooling systems like the wind. We should allow more charter schools while balancing the needs of the existing schools. One thing needed is to ensure that staff at conversion charter schools do not lose any benefits. Requiring all schools to budget for the average teacher salary is devastating to rural and hard-to-fill schools like those in Wai`anae. Our schools are paying over $75,000/year per teacher even though they have a high amount of new teachers every year.