LIHUE — Gubernatorial candidate and member of the Hawaii House of Representatives Andria Tupola visited Kauai this week and spoke at a Kauai GOP luncheon in Kapaa and at a youth gathering in Kalaheo.
One of the main reasons the 37-year-old said she’s running for governor is because the state has systemic issues that haven’t been addressed for decades.
“We might view them as bad now, but in five, 10, 12 years, these will be intergenerational issues that have gone to the point of no return,” she said in an interview with The Garden Island newspaper Tuesday.
The vision for Hawaii, Tupola said, should be to house local families so more people can stay here, to create an atmosphere where local businesses can thrive, and to be a champion for education and underserved communities.
If the Republican saw someone running for governor she was sure had a clear vision, someone who could rally community members to fill the gap where government can’t provide that support, she said she’d probably not be running for the state’s highest office.
“I don’t necessarily think that we have that type of leader right now, so I’ve been very carefully studying, what would this next step look like for me and why would it be important for us to have a governor that’s going to cast a clear vision, not be tied to special interest groups, but solely work for the people of Hawaii and that’s why I’m running,” she said.
Some of those systemic problems Hawaii is facing, she said, are poverty, homelessness, housing, the lack of ability to hold a job and run adequate business in Hawaii and the education.
School enrollment, she said, declined by 1 percent last year, while charter school enrollment increased by 5 percent, while the amount of children who are home schooled is increasing.
“I do believe that these are systemic issues and that they are interrelated. Intergenerational poverty, especially for Hawaiians, is very interrelated to overcrowding in prisons, it’s interrelated to juvenile delinquency, it’s interrelated to truancy, it’s interrelated to the Department of Hawaiian Homelands not building sufficient homes for Hawaiians,” Tupola said.
Last year, Tupola said, the Department of Hawaiian Homelands received around $14 million in funding, but didn’t build any houses.
“Yes, those are some of the very, very basic systemic issues that our state is facing,” she said.
As governor, Tupola said she would cast a clear vision for the state and address housing.
Secondly, she would outline how to develop and own businesses in Hawaii.
“Really, that’s the gist of Hawaii, that we depend on these local businesses. We might have a box store here and there, but small, local businesses are what keep our economy going, keep our rural and remote communities going,” Tupola said.
“We definitely need better education, but we can’t keep choking the local people with more taxes and creating a harder, and more high cost of living and then think we’ll solve one of the issues, we have to look at it as one interconnected issue that we have to solve together as community,” she said.
An integral step in solving these problems, she said, is to appoint department heads who have expertise in the areas, leaders who excel in community relations and can get the community involved and contributing to government.
“As a representative I’ve held 41 town halls over the past four years,” she said. “As governor, I’m probably going to hold way more than that. These town halls that I hold, they’re meant to strategize around problems in our communities and then integrate the community into the solution.”
Bethany Freudenthal, Courts, Crime and County reporter, 652-7891, firstname.lastname@example.org