There are 12 new state lawmakers for the upcoming session – 9 in the House and 3 in the Senate. HPR’s Wayne Yoshioka caught up with some of them and filed this report.
The lone Republican in the 25-member State Senate is Kurt Fevella. He served as a volunteer and neighborhood board member in Ewa for 30 years.
“Since I got elected, my number one priority is to get all the girls sports their own locker room. Every day I’m working on this, talking to somebody, another senator another representative and I just pray that, you know, we can get our message across and get it funded so all the girls in sports right now at James Campbell High School, by the time they’re seniors they can see something that is done.”
First-time GOP State House candidate, Val Okimoto, represents Mililani and Mililani Mauka. Her top issues are education, transportation and the high cost of living.
“There is a middle school in our district that is now on a multi-track system. There is, in the near future, hopefully, a building that will be built and I will continue to support that. Hopefully, that will be started and completed on time. I actually have a daughter at the school there and I look forward to the day where we are able to have all of the students on campus at one time. She may be gone by then but I have another one coming up that’s also in the public school system.”
House Democrats dominate the neighbor islands. Representative Troy Hashimoto was appointed to represent Maui District 8, Kahakuloa, Wailuku and Wai’ehu, following the resignation of former House Speaker Joe Souki last year. He won the seat outright.
“My biggest priorities focus on some of the issues we’re dealing in our district. A lot of it includes the expansion of a lot of housing that’s happening in the district so, in turn, schools are overcrowded, specifically, our middle school. And, so, we’re looking at additional classroom space and even possibly a new middle school in central Maui somewhere.”
Representative Tina Wildberger represents South Maui, Kihei, Wailea and McKenna. She ran for office for the first time because no one else would and says she has something for everybody.
“I’m a progressive, I’m an environmentalist but I’m also a business owner. So, I’m interested in fighting for a living wage, I’m interested in environmental justice, social justice. South Maui constituents want clean air, clean water and healthy reefs and I’m thrilled to be put on the Energy and Environmental Committee as vice chair, so I’m looking to do some good environmental work, also.”
Representative David Tarnas previously served House District 7 from 1994 to 1998. His constituents are in North Kona and Kohala on Hawai’i Island.
“Environmental issues are really a top priority for me. I’m an environmental planner by profession. Sustainable economic development is very important to me as well. So, I’ll be working on both of those areas. But a key thing for me as well is to keep my constituents informed and engaged so that they can participate in the legislative process.”
Opening Day for the State Legislature is January 16. Wayne Yoshioka, HPR News.