From Homelessness, special session spur candidates
A former lawmaker and a community leader are among an incumbent’s rivals
By Timothy Hurley
Shimabukuro, 43, has been a state senator since December 2010, when she was appointed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie to fill the seat vacated by Colleen Hanabusa, who was elected to Congress. [Shimabukuro subsequently won the senate seat in the 2012 elections.] Shimabukuro was a state House member since 2003.
She said she maintains a philosophy of taking care of those who are most vulnerable, and her focus during the past legislative session was on victims.1
She passed bills to provide hooponopono (the Hawaiian practice of reconciliation) for juvenile offenders and their victims and to allow abused children to change their names in divorces and sue the perpetrators. She also passed bills to increase disclosure of financial conflicts of interest of key decision-makers and got $50,000 allocated for illegally dumped tires.
Shimabukuro also won $1.5 million in improvements for Makaha Elementary School, as well as approval for a study that will look at relocating the Nanakuli Avenue crosswalk, which has drawn complaints because of speeding drivers.2
One of her goals next session is to tackle the homeless and affordable-housing problems by looking at indigenous architecture and natural building. Shimabukuro hopes to come up with some building guidelines that will help clear the way for house construction with more affordable materials.
In addition, she wants to look into the possibility of allowing mobile homes and shipping containers as houses and allow them on Department of Hawaiian Home Lands or Hawaii Community Development Authority lands.
“It’s a radical idea,” she said. “People are afraid of blight, but the Leeward Coast has been dealing with this issue for a long time.”
1 For more on Senator Shimabukuro’s philosophy and goals, see Civil Beat: ‘Candidate Q&A — Senate District 21: Maile Shimabukuro’.
2 For more on Senator Shimabukuro’s accomplishments in 2014, see Over $94 Million in Improvements to the Leeward Coast and Maile’s 2014 Legislative Wrap-Up. Visit her official website and district 21 blog.