KAPAHI — Fern Rosenstiel is all about challenging the status quo with new energy and ideas.
The 32-year-old from Kapahi, who is running for State House District 14, said her goal is to “create an inspired vision for our district and state, a vision for our future that aligns with Hawaiian values to protect and revive environment and culture.”
Rosenstiel is a graduate of Kapaa High School and holds a bachelor’s degree from Griffith University in Queensland, Australia, with majors in wildlife management, marine biology and environmental sciences.
She’s currently a manager at the Hanalei restaurant and bar Tahiti Nui, and manages her small business, Anuenue Enterprises, for which she works as a consultant.
“I have never ran for public office before, but have been heavily involved in political issues in Hawaii for many years,” she said.
Most recently, Rosenstiel has been involved in the development, passing and the ongoing defense of Ordinance 960, Kauai’s pesticide disclosure and buffer zone law.
She said she organized the permits and groundwork for two major Kauai marches in 2013.
“I am running because I believe in the power of the people and our ability to shape our own future,” Rosenstiel said. “I know that if elected, I can bring a strong voice for transparent, integrity-based decisionmaking to the state capitol and help create positive changes in our community.”
When it comes to Kauai’s traffic issue, she’s looking for solutions that “retain our rural appeal and way of life.”
“There are existing old cane roads that would provide connectivity and alternative routes for motorists that would alleviate the congestion while also retaining our rural landscape,” Rosenstiel said. “Upgrading these roads could potentially be streamlined to create immediate solutions.”
Her plan is to work with the state’s Department of Transportation to “hold to budgets and timelines for the approved projects currently underway.”
Those include the additional lane being added to the stretch of Kuhio Highway in Wailua between the bypass road and the Wailua River, and infrastructure for the Kapaa Bypass Road to accommodate for congestion and additional planned housing.
Rosenstiel is also looking into developing a North Shore traffic and transportation plan, as well as providing alternatives for transportation that will help minimize the use of rental cars.
Access rights are also important to Rosenstiel, and she promises to enforce access rights for local families.
“I plan to immediately launch investigations into various violations of access rights throughout the district,” Rostenstiel said. “I will look at ways that liability issues can be addressed to ensure access rights, mauka to makai.”
She supports traditional and customary gathering rights and will “work tirelessly for our ability to access our special places and natural resources.”
On education, Rosenstiel plans to help increase the money available for public education in Hawaii and ensure teachers are paid “appropriate” wages, as well as fill the roughly 400 teacher vacancies throughout the state.
“I think we need to look at the nations that have the best-rated education and take on board innovative ways to transform and modernize our educational system,” Rosenstiel said.
She’s in support of an adolescent drug treatment center that is effective and meets Kauai’s needs, and will work toward an all-around inpatient program that helps “any age group and provides the kind of in-depth services our community needs.”
Affordable housing and a solution to the island’s houseless challenge are also high on Rosenstiel’s list of goals.
“I have seen creative ideas, including small, tiny home villages where houseless members of our community are given opportunities to have a house and get on their feet,” Rosenstiel said. “Like the other interconnected social issues we face, we need to address this alongside mental health, drug abuse, cost of living and affordable housing.”
Rosenstiel said she feels strongly connected to the core issues facing the community because she was born, raised and graduated high school here and currently works in the district she wants to serve.
“I will remain grounded in my core values of environment and culture and will bring my science background and experience to the House floor,” Rosenstiel said.