Filipino Americans Running for Public Office in 2020

By Jim Bea Sampaga

Filipinos make up the second-largest ethnic group in Hawaii with a population of 342,095 according to the 2010 Census. It’s no doubt that throughout Hawaii’s history, Filipino American politicians are in the state legislature where they represent not only Filipinos but also the residents of the state of Hawaii.

With COVID-19 greatly affecting Hawaii, the state legislature is making sure our community is safe, employed and ready as we transition into our “new normal.”

However, according to recent data from Hawaii’s Department of Health, Filipinos experience the second-worst COVID-19 disparity in Hawaii with most Filipino frontliners risking their lives working in medical, retail, food, hotel and tourism. The pandemic also exposed issues within the Filipino community that resonates with the rest of Hawaii: high unemployment rates, high costs of healthcare and housing, the need to raise the minimum wage and diversify our economy.

With the uncertainty of the future due to the pandemic, we need more Filipino American representation in City Council, State House and Senate. We need to be heard. Voting wisely is one way of empowering our community by electing the right public officials that will make long-term positive changes in our community

“Filipinos like to say that they are the fastest growing and second largest ethnic minority in the state but it should not stop there,” said Belinda Aquino, PhD, Professor Emeritus at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and Political Scientist.

“Real empowerment can only be achieved if all citizens who are registered to vote will actually vote in every election, which Filipinos often take for granted, or don’t really assert and exercise this right.”

It’s high time that Filipinos assert and exercise this right and translate their numbers into real powers in the larger community. Exercising your right to vote by registering and learning more about the candidates are crucial in the upcoming Primary and General Elections. You have the power to change the course of our nation’s history.

As candidates gear up for the August 8 Primary Elections, Hawaii Filipino Chronicle reached out to Filipino Americans running for public office to share their experiences and platforms in improving Hawaii.

(Editor’s note: Other Fil-Am candidates who were not included in this cover story did not respond as of our press time.)

RUNNING FOR: State House, District 46 (Wahiawa, Whitmore, Launani Valley)

Why I’m running: With three generations of my family rooted in Wahiawa, the safety, health, and future of this town are always in my heart. This is my first campaign for public office and I believe that a working-class perspective is critical in State Legislature. I feel called to represent my community so they can have a voice in the State House that’s from Wahiawa and for Wahiawa.

Background: As a licensed General Contractor and Real Estate Broker who was born and raised in Hawaii, I have a broad perspective on the unique relationships between industries that affect our local economy. I learned the value of hard work from my father Renie, a Civil Engineer and entrepreneur. My mother, sister and grandmother were all educators. Both my grandfathers worked in plantation fields when they immigrated to Hawaii from the Philippines. Grandpa Menor served as a 2nd Lt. in the Hawaii Rifles during WWII and Grandpa Agsalda was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal with the Filipino Veterans of WWII.

Platform: As the representative, I’ll fight for safer streets in Wahiawa, quality care for our kupuna, support for veterans, world-class education for our keiki that will prepare them for local jobs for the 21st century.

RUNNING FOR: State House, District 38 (Waipahu)

Why I’m running: I’m running for re-election to continue the work we started to improve the quality of life for our residents and address important issues affecting us today and in the future. Together, we worked hard to make meaningful changes in the community of Waipahu and fight for its fair share of funding for needed projects and services.

Background: My parents arrived in Hawaii in 1970 from Ilocos Sur, Philippines to start a new life. Their experiences helped shape my appreciation for our community and desire to help others. I graduated from Waipahu High School and earned my degrees from Honolulu Community College, University of Hawaii-West Oahu and Hawaii Pacific University. I’m currently representing District 38, serving as Chair of the House Committee on Transportation, Majority Whip, a member of the Housing and Consumer Protection & Commerce committees and Chair of the House Filipino Caucus. I work for the Waipahu Community Association. I devote time to various organizations including the Waipahu Community Foundation, Leeward Oahu Lions Club, Knights of Rizal-Aloha Chapter, AGAPE Ministry and the Hawaii Chinese Kenpo School of Self Defense.

Platform: Our district is confronted with pressing issues: troubled economy due to the COVID-19 pandemic, homelessness, traffic congestion and public safety concerns. To help address these concerns, we were able to fund needed infrastructure projects to help stabilize our economy, develop comprehensive plans to build affordable housing and address homelessness.

RUNNING FOR: Kauai County Councilmember

Why I’m running: We are headed towards the most challenging times and I know I can help. My unique set of skills and a combination of knowledge will help us solve some of the economic and health crises. My community involvement allows me to work with a diverse group and able to represent the wholeness of our island community.

Background: I’m born and raised on Kauai, alumni to Wilcox Elementary, Kauai High School, The Art Institute of Seattle and got my Doctors of Chiropractic at Life Chiropractic College West in San Francisco. I’ve spent the last six years in my private practices on Kauai and Maui and serving as the President of the Rice Street Business Association, Vice President of the Lihue Business Association, board member of the Kauai Chamber of Commerce and Hale Opio Kauai, and advisory board member of Hawaii Foodbank-Kauai. My parents and grandparents have been integral leaders within the Filipino community serving as past presidents of numerous Filipino organizations such as the Kauai Filipino Community Council and Kauai Fil-Am Jaycees.

Platform: My highest priority is keeping businesses going and saving as many jobs as possible by focusing on government efficiency, innovation in technology, food sustainability, and town core center development. I’m looking to develop, modify or remove policies that will enhance our community’s ability to thrive by focusing on reducing the cost of living and enabling the workforce to develop different skills or jobs. By focusing on developing our town core centers, we increase the housing ability, reduce the need for traffic, save on infrastructure costs, and protect our environment by reducing transportation and building emissions. 

RUNNING FOR: State House, District 30 (Kalihi Kai, Sand Island, Hickam, Pearl Harbor, Ford Island, Halawa Valley Estate)

Why I’m running: I like to solve difficult problems, which is why addressing physicians, teachers, and nurses’ shortage is first on my list. I would also intend to look into addressing houselessness as one of my priorities. 

Background: I was born in the Philippines and received a Bachelor of Law (Juris Doctor) degree from M.L. Quezon University-Philippines. During my incumbency as Representative, I have dealt with many challenges and concerns that have affected our lives. I fought for them, I worked for their resolutions so that we can live in a district that is sensitive to the needs and aspirations of the residents. With a combination of skills, sensitivity, and experience on the importance of community interests, I have always advocated for fairness and solutions. 

Platform: I’ll work to pass House Bill 1462 HD1, which unanimously passed in the House and is now pending in the Senate. It addresses Hawaii’s over $12 billion health unfunded liability and could potentially save over $500 million per year without raising taxes and fees. If this measure passes this session, savings over $500 million a year can fund other state and county liabilities and services such as the Collective Bargaining agreements, public education programs that include teachers’ shortage, affordable housing and homelessness. It will also address the state’s physician shortage, climate change and state and county road repairs and improvement.

RUNNING FOR: State Senate, District 5 (Wailuku, Waiheʻe, Kahului)

Why I’m running: I’m committed to public service. Maui needs strong and experienced voices representing our communities. Steady leadership over the next four years will be crucial as Maui recovers. We need to be opportunistic in shifting more of our economy into areas that build resilience—in healthcare, local food production, education and energy.

Background: I grew up in Paia and Kahului and graduated from Maui High School. After college at Yale and law school at Cal-Berkeley, I returned home because Maui is where I wanted to live, play and raise a family. Gov. Ben Cayetano gave me the opportunity to serve at the Departments of Land and Natural Resources, Labor and Industrial Relations, and Commerce and Consumer Affairs. Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa appointed me as Director of Public Works and Environmental Management. In 2009, Gov. Linda Lingle appointed me to the State House and my community re-elected me twice. In 2012, Gov. Neil Abercrombie appointed me to the State Senate and my community has re-elected me twice. I continued to practice law in Wailuku when the legislature is not in session and continue to be active in my Central Maui community.

Platform: The pandemic disclosed what we knew: too many working families live paycheck-to-paycheck. More people are likely moving into this bracket. The legislature began this session with a consensus on chipping away at the costs— housing, childcare, wages and taxes—that make life challenging even in good times. Hawaii needs to directly subsidize for sale homes to bring prices down for local working families. We need to seriously look at single-payer health care, paid family and medical leave like other industrialized nations.

RUNNING FOR: Honolulu City Councilmember District 7 (Kalihi, lwilei, Kalihi Kai, Mapunapuna, Salt Lake, Aliamanu, Hickam, Foster Village, Ford Island, and Sand Island)

Why I’m running: I have experienced firsthand the struggles individuals and families are facing in our communities. I’ll bring a strong voice representing the district to the Honolulu City Council, and advocate for all of our neighbors whose values must be made known in our government’s decision-making processes.

I want to use my breadth of life experiences to bring people together to create impactful, deeply rooted change, and ensure that our community has the necessary resources, programs, and services it needs to thrive. It is a critical time for our district, and I ask for your vote of confidence so that I can collaborate, organize, and expand opportunities for all those I hope to represent in 2021.

Background: I’m a second-generation Filipina American who grew up in the Kalihi Kai and Moanalua communities. I currently serve as chief of staff to Honolulu City Councilmember Joey Manahan. I previously served as a legislative aide at the Office of the Vice Speaker of the Hawaii House of Representatives, assistant editor for the Fil-Am Courier, and held numerous roles in the nonprofit and tourism industries. I serve on the Epilepsy Foundation of Hawaii Board of Directors, secretary of the W. R. Farrington High School, School Community Council, and a member of numerous Kaihi and Salt Lake Neighborhood Security Watch/Citizen Patrol groups. I also served as a radio host for The Pilipinx Collective and KNDI Radio 1270 AM, and secretary of the Filipino Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii. I volunteer with the KaBATAan: Filipino for Kids Hawaii, Hawaii Bicycling League, and have assisted with various COVID-19 testing and food drives. I earned my Bachelor’s degree in political science and American studies and a Master’s degree in public administration from the University of Hawaii-Manoa.

Platform: My priorities are to ensure greater transparency and community collaboration with our economic recovery planning; create safer communities through public safety initiatives; push community-driven efforts that need to be adopted at all level of government; address climate change and promote resiliency through our public infrastructure in our neighborhoods; invest and prioritize our core city services; increase affordable and accessible housing for working families; and promote economic recovery and sustainability in our city’s planning.

RUNNING FOR: State Senate, District 22 (Mililani Mauka, Waipiʻo Acres, Wheeler, Wahiawā, Whitmore Village, Poamoho)

Why I’m running: I desire to give the residents in District 22 a choice and an opportunity to have a voice in their community. The atmosphere in the political community has been clouded and tainted by a lack of communication and transparency by the current leadership. I’ll bring new energy, thoughts and leadership to Senate District 22.

Background: I have lived in Wahiawa for over 30 years and have participated in many community-oriented projects from supporting the local athletic programs to local musicians. I have assisted in projects and programs that assist kupuna in many ways (seeking affordable housing, affordable health care, transportation, seeking food and other basic essential necessities). I have been a vehement supporter of projects that improve our communities so that we can live, work and play in our district.

Platform: My priorities are to seek educational resources for public schools as well as cultivate and foster partnerships in our communities, develop and promote apprenticeship programs with businesses to promote employment that provides a living wage in our communities which in turn may help lessen travel time between homes and places of employment. Lastly, to provide more transparency and less confusion between area legislators and community members. I want to ensure that legislators fund projects that will benefit the community.

RUNNING FOR: State House, District 39 (Royal Kunia, Village Park, Waipahu, Makakilo, West Loch)

Why I’m running: I want to preserve this special place that is filled with great people and culture, so our families and future generations can thrive. I want to build upon what we have all worked hard to achieve and increase opportunities for all our residents. With my experience and good working relationships with individuals and businesses across all areas of our state, I know that I can continue to do a lot of good for our community.

Background: I was born in Hawaii and raised in Waipahu, and the Aloha Spirit of our community has blessed me with the honor of serving as a state representative for 10 years. My ethnicities (Hawaiian, Irish, Filipino, and Japanese) have helped mold my respect for all our cultures. I have dual bachelor’s degrees in Political Science and Sociology, and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Hawaii-Manoa. I have over five years of experience as a social worker at a local non-profit, serving families in our family court system. As a State Representative since 2010, I have been a member and vice-chair of various committees over the years. I’m currently the Chair of the Committee on Legislative Management and the Vice-Chair of the Committee on Finance.

Platform: As we deal with this pandemic, I want to ensure the health and safety of our residents while stabilizing and rebuilding our economy. I’ll focus on prioritizing the state budget in these areas: supporting long-range infrastructure projects for education and transportation, re-investing in our safety net for the most vulnerable in our community, supporting advanced education programs from early education through early college, creating employment opportunities and increasing access to affordable homes for local families, and building resiliency for local food production and water security.

RUNNING FOR: State Senate, District 22 (Mililani Mauka, Waipiʻo Acres, Wheeler, Wahiawā, Whitmore Village, Poamoho)

Why I’m running: I’m running for re-election to serve the constituents of Senate District 22, to help solve our state’s challenges, and to work to secure a decent quality of life for the residents of our islands. The COVID-19 pandemic presents our state with an uncertain future. I want to continue working with my colleagues so we can navigate through this crisis together. 

Background: I’m a proud graduate of Leilehua High School and Oregon University. I majored in journalism & communications and started my career in public relations. This taught me how to get to the bottom of the issue by asking the five key questions: who, what, where, how, and why. My approach to all challenges, projects, and decisions are based on those questions. My prior experience as a Honolulu City Councilmember gave me hands-on experience with intricate county processes and procedures. This experience is invaluable to me in my role as a State Senator and has allowed me to be very effective in securing funding and improvement projects for my district. 

Platform: My main priority is to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic and diversify our economy. We became too dependent on tourism and did not have a plan to develop other local jobs and industries. For years, residents have said that 10,000,000 visitors put too much burden on our infrastructure and resources. Now is the time to diversify the economy to create well-paying local jobs and industries to get our people back on their feet. 

RUNNING FOR: Honolulu City Councilmember, District 9 (Waikele, Village Park, Royal Kunia, Mililani Town, West Loch, Iroquois Point, and portions of Ewa Villages and Ewa Beach)

Why I’m running: I’m running for City Council because I have the experience, knowledge and know-how to effectively serve at City Hall. I served eight years with the Neighborhood Commission under Mayor Frank Fasi and 19 years in the Hawaii Legislature which includes three years as a state representative and 16 years as a state senator.

I was able to introduce and get passed 99 bills in areas like gun control, coral reef protection, affordable housing, job creation, medical cannabis dispensaries, ethics training for government officials, historical preservation, police and criminal justice reform.

Background: My parents are from Ilocos Sur and La Union. I was raised in a military family since my father served 21 years in the U.S. Navy. I received my Business Management degree from Seattle University in 1982. I served as Hawaii Senate Vice-President, Senate Majority Floor Leader, and chairman of the Public Safety, Intergovernmental, and Military Affairs Committee. I chaired the Housing Committee and the Business and Economic Development Committee. Public service and community service are in my heart and soul having been involved in many community organizations and Boards for over three decades.

Platform: My main priority is to make certain our tax dollars are spent wisely and efficiently with no waste. Reopening our economy, creating new jobs, ending homelessness, finding transportation solutions, and safe neighborhoods are key issues I’ll work on. Finishing the rail without waste and corruption is paramount. 

RUNNING FOR: State House, District 30 (Kalihi Kai, Sand Island, Hickam, Pearl Harbor, Ford Island, Halawa Valley Estate)

Why I’m running: Hawaii’s economy relies on the people who live and work in District 30. We must ensure residents, many who have worked their entire lives paying state taxes, are given everything the state and federal government can to ensure their health, housing, food, and education.  

We should do so in a way that is through a direct and open process, unblemished by corruption, fights between the legislature and the Governor, and by secretive meetings between developers, banks, and the legislature. District 30 residents have had the same politicians for decades–in that time, infrastructure has deteriorated, wages have stagnated, and workers have taken multiple jobs to make ends meet, which they can no longer do.

Background: I’m a lawyer, a manager of a youth mentorship program at Kokua Kalihi Valley, a non-profit in Kalihi, and a candidate for public office. I’ve been an Instructor in the Ethnic Studies Department at the University of Hawaii-Manoa, a Staff Attorney at the Domestic Violence Action Center, and a journalist. I’m a second-generation Filipino-American from a family of veterans, nurses, teachers, bakers, and business owners. During this time, I have been assisting neighbors to ensure that they remain housed by taking their calls as a pro bono attorney, assisting individuals in applications for unemployment benefits, and providing lunches to the youth. 

Platform: My priorities include reopening the local economy in a way that puts public health and safety first, with specific measures for those who work in the hotel and service industry and creating an equitable housing plan because of the pandemic, return illegal vacation rentals to local residents, develop alternative forms of housing for our houseless neighbors, and engage in “shovel-ready” housing that will increase housing in our urban core, particularly Kalihi. We must also expand unemployment and healthcare options.

RUNNING FOR: State House, District 20 (St. Louis Heights, Palolo, Maunalani Heights, Wilhelmina Rise, Kaimuki) 

Why I’m running: I want to create a better Hawaii because: “We all do better when we all do better.” I feel a duty to bear my skills, experience, insights, and instincts in doing so. I feel a responsibility to make sure I have a seat at the decision-making table and offer the institutional knowledge and insights I have developed over the years as a lawyer and civil servant in state government.

It is time, especially as we recover from the pandemic, for our leaders to lay a new foundation for a safe, equitable, just, and prosperous future not only for my children but for all the youth of our community; and I’m answering a call to be one of them.

Background: I’m the child of Filipina and an English-German and grew up in Upstate New York. I earned my Social Work degree from Cornell University and my J.D. with a certificate in Pacific Asian Legal Studies from University of Hawaii’s Richardson School of Law. I practice law in Hawaii and New York, which serves me well in my current role at the State of Hawaii’s Office of Language Access. I worked as a law clerk with the Hawaii State Judiciary at the Intermediate Court of Appeals and the First Circuit Court of the City and County of Honolulu; and four consecutive legislative sessions as an attorney for the House of Representatives’ Committee on Consumer Protection and Commerce. I’m passionate about serving my community as I enter into my fourth year on the Kaimuki Neighborhood Board, and gear up to grapple with bigger state-level law and policy questions as a legislator.

Platform: My biggest goal is to drastically increase voter turn-out and civic engagement. The adage, “that which is measured improves,” is one that can be aptly applied to governance. Our residents are quick to complain about our politicians, but too many don’t know who their representatives are, and don’t make the effort to learn. If the electorate is engaged and attentive and “measures” the performance of our elected officials, our laws and policies will improve and better reflect our communities’ values.

RUNNING FOR: State House, District 43 (Ewa Villages, Kalaeloa, Honokai Hale, Nanakai Gardens, Ko Olina, Kahe Point, Nanakuli, Lualualei, Maili)

Why I’m running: It’s time we start electing leaders who will actually do the right thing and truly represent the people. Hawaii’s cost of living is outrageous and our current politicians keep voting on more tax increases! Is that really what the people want?

Thousands of local people are leaving Hawaii because they simply cannot make ends meet. I’ll work to make Hawaii a better place to live for generations to come.

Background: I was born and raised on the leeward side of Oahu, in low-income housing, on food stamps and welfare. I know the struggle that so many of our families go through! With hard work, I was able to receive a good education. For the last several years, I have traveled the world preaching the gospel of Christ, inspiring, and empowering people.

Platform: The main thing I’ll focus on is the cost of living. I stand against raising your taxes. I support life from the womb to the grave. We should teach our children the principle of “hard work” and not the mindset of “free handouts.” It’s time for a much-needed change! For those of you who live on the west-side, #VoteDiamondGARCIA—Maraming Salamat!

RUNNING FOR: Hawaii City Councilmember, District 1 (Portion of South Hilo, North Hilo, Hāmākua, and Portion of Waimea)

Why I’m running: Hawaii needs to be more sustainable in today’s world and to produce its own food. We need to recycle a lot of things that will create jobs. 

Background: Born and raised in Hamakua, I worked in the plantations in Paauhau and Honokaa until it shut down. 

Platform: My platform is to keep and help agriculture, support the farming industry and have grants go directly to farmers and not to research and development. The Hamakua coast can grow enough food to supply the island and export it. I’ll help the other islands’ farm industry and help the indigenous people because they have rights too.

RUNNING FOR: State House, District 36 (Mililani Mauka, Mililani)

Why I’m running: We have a system that doesn’t really take care of families. We are not prioritizing our people and resources. Many families in Hawaii cannot afford a future here. We have a responsibility to leave Hawaii a better place for our children and grandchildren. If elected, I would be the first immigrant, the first Filipina, and the youngest Democrat to be elected in our district’s history.

Background: As a journalist in the Philippines, I fought to expose the harsh economic inequality and political corruption in the nation. After migrating to the US, I continued to advocate for better access for vulnerable communities, speaking on television and in national conferences, including the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Summit. In 2015, I received a national award as an Emerging Leader and one of 100 Most Influential Filipina Women in the World. I worked under Gov. David Ige as a policy analyst, looking at solutions to lower the cost of care, increase and improve health care delivery, and address health disparities. Currently, I’m the policy and advocacy director for the Hawai‘i Public Health Institute.

Platform: I want to fight for working families and to address cost of living expenses that take the most out of our paycheck. We deserve universal healthcare, childcare and paid family and sick leave. We need to prioritize local homeownership and to take care of our kupuna. We need strong public schools, clean energy, and sustainable local food production.

RUNNING FOR: State House, District 39 (Royal Kunia, Village Park, Waipahu, Makakilo, West Loch)

Why I’m running: Our big government continues to go unchecked and unopposed. Our people deserve transparency and our current elected officials don’t offer that. As elected officials and candidates we need to remind ourselves that we answer to the people. Issues around our state continue to carry on without real solutions.

Background: If elected, I’ll be the youngest member of the Hawaii State House of Representatives. I currently serve as the Officials Chair for the Hawaii Federation for USA Wrestling and serve as the director for Kupaa Youth Ministry. I served as a District Chair for the Hawaii State Republican Party.

Platform: My priorities are to address our economy, education and environment. As all of these issues cover many aspects of our lives that need our immediate attention. For years, we have watched as many of our ‘ohana leave for a better life on the mainland because the cost of living is one of the highest in the nation.

RUNNING FOR: Honolulu City Councilmember, District 7 (Kalihi, lwilei, Kalihi Kai, Mapunapuna, Salt Lake, Aliamanu, Hickam, Foster Village, Ford Island, and Sand Island)

Why I’m running: I’m running for office because we need equity-minded leaders who will advocate for people furthest from opportunity. All children deserve to grow up, live, and thrive in safe communities that will support their well-being. It is time we elect people who truly understand the issues negatively impacting working families. 

Background: I was born and raised to a low-income immigrant family and went through the Kalihi public education system where I learned resiliency, strong work ethics and being a servant leader. I was a Presidential Scholar and Honors graduate at the University of Hawaii-Manoa majoring in Chinese Language and American Studies with a Master’s degree in Education from Johns Hopkins University. Currently a doctoral student in Education also at UH-Manoa, I’m also the Chief Academic Officer of DreamHouse ‘Ewa Beach Public Charter School. As a former Special Education teacher, I worked with families to ensure their children with disabilities have access to excellent educational opportunities in school and for their future. I hope to bring an educator lens to the City Council to advocate for those furthest from opportunity and truly create equitable policies to benefit our most vulnerable populations.

Platform: I’m focused on building safer communities and ensuring that people have safer livelihoods. We should not criminalize poverty; instead, we must develop policies to support the following: high-quality afterschool programs available for all students, high-quality workplace readiness programs that will provide stable income and working situations for people, and strengthen support for community health programs to ensure the mental and physical well-being of our children and adults are taken care of.


RUNNING FOR: Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Hawaii Resident Trustee

Why I’m running: Holding the health and well-being of family, community and environment in top priority has always been a principle I grew up with that was further enhanced in the deeply cultural education I was blessed to be reared in. We must strive for a Pono—a virtuous path forward—holding these essential focuses as the light to guide us on how we recover from these challenging times.

Though OHA’s primary objective is to focus on the well-being of the Native Hawaiian population, the resulting effects of healthy kanaka maoli is a healthy Hawai’i for all. I’ll work to make the Office Of Hawaiian Affairs serve the people of Hawai’i by fulfilling its duties with a new flame of enthusiasm, innovation, transparency, and dedication to Pono.

Background: My grandfather Bonifacio Mangauil came from the Philippines in the 1920s—first landing in Haina, Hāmākua and later met and married my Hawaiian grandmother, Elsie Kulia Benjamin in Kailua-Kona. I’m a graduate of Kanu O Ka ‘Āina Public Charter school. I served as a Hawaiian Studies Resource teacher for the DOE ‘Ike Hawai’i program for nearly 13 years and activities specialist and cultural advisor to the Hāmākua Youth Center. In 2016, I galvanized the Hāmākua community to create the Hawaiian Cultural Center Of Hāmākua. At an early age, I was challenged and trained to always ho’olono, listen deeply to all perspectives, compare and contrast, research and analyze, weigh the pros and cons, question and contemplate, and find that most Pono path forward. 

Platform: O kākou no keia ‘āina, no keia ‘āina no kākou—We are this land, this land is all of us. Every person who calls Hawai’i home bears the responsibility to care for this home. I want to bring harmony to OHA and ensure a firm recommitment of the office to the health, safety, and justice for its constituents, and these islands. I’ll prioritize the health of ‘Āina and people before corporate and state interests; quickly move to ensure transparency of the agency with the community; work towards removing barriers and increasing access to resources; and push for OHA to lead efforts in growing sustainable jobs in green energy, localized food security, alternative, safe affordable housing, and true models of environmental stewardship.

RUNNING FOR: Honolulu Mayor

Why I’m running: I’m proud to be the only Filipino candidate running for Mayor and will be honored to be the first Filipino Mayor of Honolulu. My grandparents left the Philippines to work on plantations so they could make a better life for their family. I want to ensure that my daughter’s generation has a Honolulu that is affordable, efficient, safe, ethical and resilient with an economy that no longer depends primarily on the outside world to employ us and feed our families.

As the only candidate who is serving in the City Council, I know the current problems and solutions to city issues and I have been on the job making the tough decisions to keep us safe and provide solutions to the COVID-19 crisis.

Background: I first want to thank the many Filipinos elders who have stressed to me the importance of what my candidacy means for all Filipinos. After attending the University of California-Berkeley, I was elected to represent District 43 in 2004 and served for four terms. In 2012, I was elected to the Honolulu City Council. My district received over $1 billion in new facilities and services to improve the quality of life for Leeward residents. As Zoning and Housing Chair and Vice-Chair of the City Council, I passed numerous innovative ideas that will provide thousands of new affordable housing units and homeless solutions. As Chair of the Business, Economic Development and Tourism Committee, we led efforts to develop new economies and new jobs and provided financial relief to unemployed workers and businesses during COVID-19. 

Platform: I’ll use the power of my office to finalize the diversification of our economy; ensure residents never suffer the overwhelming job losses they are experiencing now; address homelessness; streamline access to healthcare and mental health; enhance transparency and open government; direct funding to promote agricultural production, attract technology, increase clean energy; decrease our dependence on the mainland; remove barriers to construction of affordable housing; put people back to work; and use federal relief funds to help individuals and small businesses.

RUNNING FOR: State House, District 30 (Kalihi Kai, Sand Island, Hickam, Pearl Harbor, Ford Island, Halawa Valley Estate)

Why I’m running: We need a balance in our Hawaii State House Government. Currently, there are 46 Democrats and five Republicans. I’m passionate about helping people. It’s not about me but it’s about others! We need business owners that can help shift this falling economy.

Background: Born in Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur, I grew up in Kalihi where I walked to Kalakaua Elementary and Farrington High School everyday. I traveled to 50 states for work but only stayed in major cities for at least a month every year since 1996. I learned about different cultures and businesses hands-on. I belong to a few ministries at New Hope Oahu such as Filipino Ministry and Military Ministry. I also serve with Aloha Outreach Feed Hawaii’s Homeless. I’m a small business owner. I studied Accountancy at Hawaii Business School and earned several management certifications online.

Platform: My main priorities are to: keep the neighborhood watch to work with HPD; remove excise tax from basic necessities and reduce excessive licensing and other fees that impede employment; support the removal of state taxes on all retirement income and Hawaii estate tax; reform and measurably reduce all current taxes and spending; empower parents with more choices regarding their children’s education and support career readiness courses and internships.

RUNNING FOR: State Senate, District 2 (Puna, Kaʻū)

Why I’m running: I have been a State Representative for Puna for the past six years. I represented the district successfully through two major lava crises and at least one hurricane by successfully lobbying and receiving $60 million from the State to the County that is now able to rebuild roads that were inundated by lava. Over $50 million has also gone towards highway 130 improvements that have increased traffic flow and decreased traffic accidents so people who commute from home to work are able to go home safely.

Background: I was born in Manila but my mother was born in Waikapu, Maui, the daughter of a Sakada migrant. Before I was a state representative, I was an attorney for over 30 years where I successfully argued cases in front of the Hawaii Supreme Court. I have been a Hawaii State Representative for six years where I’m now Majority Whip, Chair of Human Services & Homelessness and Vice-Chair of Judiciary.

Platform: My main priority is to diversify our economy by allowing Hawaii to produce Hemp and thus, create the popular CBD or hemp oil; take advantage of Hawaii’s location halfway between Asia and the US; allow sports betting and by creating call centers or incentive shipping/warehousing of goods so that they can ship rapidly to/from Asia. My next priority is tackling chronic homelessness by creating public behavioral health hospitals.

RUNNING FOR: U.S. Congressional Representative District 2

Why I’m running: After years of observing one party monopoly of Hawaii politics, I have noticed some of the incumbents have been abusing their constitutional power, shown a disregard of the voters who do not agree with their agenda, and these same leaders have a disdain of their solemn oath to defend and support the U.S. and Hawaii State Constitution.

Hawaii residents deserve to know their economic, educational, financial, medical, cultural, safety, employment present and future hopes, goals and dreams are supported and sustained by their political leaders. 

Background: Elected on the Kaneohe Neighborhood Board, served six years as Treasurer, Safety committee co-chair, at Large and District 4 Representative. Federal/Military service and employment for 42+ years, developing, managing and overseeing multiple multi-million dollar Federal/DOD contracted projects, as a certified Federal Project Manager. I have an understanding of the three tiers of government, International licensing agreements, UN established countries boundaries, Federal Acquisitions Regulation (FAR), use of federal funding and years of multiple interactions with several Federal and Department of Defense agencies and industry leaders, in Hawaii, nationally as well as DOD overseas. I also provided technical and Telecommunications Manager support to multiple federal agencies such as the DOD, US Customs and the Coast Guard.

Platform: My main priorities would be to work in Congress to support restoration and diversification of Hawaii’s economy, encourage all stakeholders work viable solutions to restore the Hawaii Tourism and small business industry, push the completion of a viable vaccine for COVID-19, provide economic support to the jobless and support legislation and provide leadership that will engage the current legal, cultural and social issues we are experiencing nationally.

RUNNING FOR: Kauai County Councilmember

Why I’m running: I want to help with the drug problem that’s affecting our youth, bring the homeless back to reality and help with Kauai’s cost of living. I want to make sure to put things in solid stone and not breach plans that have been completed.

Background: I moved to Kauai in 1973 from Kunia, Oahu. I was married three times. The first two were 14 years each and my present husband of 23 years is Wayne Medeiros who works at Kukui Grove Center for over 37 years.

I have five children, 18 grandchildren and 6 and a half great-grandchildren. I adopted 5 of the grandchildren and foster children for the state. I’ve been active with the kupuna for 15 years. I work parttime for Yamaguchi Bus. In 2016, I was awarded the Outstanding Older American Honoree for Kauai. I lost one grandson at 18 years old from drug overdose.

Platform: Our island needs to be self-sustainable. I’ve seen fast growth in the past five years in tourism. COVID-19 came and the majority of Kauai lost their jobs because they worked in the tourism industry. We need to keep vehicles on the highway limited, especially when tourists come back. We need to utilize tour buses to cut down traffic on the highway and in towns.

RUNNING FOR: Honolulu City Councilmember District 9 (Waikele, Village Park, Royal Kunia, Mililani Town, West Loch, Iroquois Point, and portions of Ewa Villages and Ewa Beach)

Why I’m running: My family and I have been involved in community service for years. I have always had a heart for service. I’m fortunate that for the past 28 years, the people of Hawaii supported my family and I in the entertainment industry. An elected public office would provide me the opportunity to serve them.

Background: In 1916, my great grandparents who were Sakadas arrived in Hawaii from the Philippines for a better future for their family. Being recognized as one of Hawaii’s Top 100 Influential Filipinos with an exhibit at the Bishop Museum is an answer in part to the dream of my Sakada family members. I have been a small business owner for 28 years as an entertainer and public speaker. I served in the administrations of Mayor Billy Kenoi of Hawaii Island and Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui as executive assistants working with the Hawaii youth. I have lived on the west side of Oahu for over 20 years. 

Platform: I have knocked on 10,000 doors since beginning my campaign and residents and voters shared with me their concerns for our community. I’ll prioritize public safety, especially as it relates to our kupuna and crimes of opportunity and plan to increase the police beats in three police districts that make up District 9. I’ll also focus on traffic congestion within the district and the cost of living on Oahu.

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