Addressing unemployment is the overarching theme for Kailua-Kona resident Kalei Akaka as she pursues the state House District 6 seat.
Saying the lack of jobs is the top issue facing West Hawaii, Hawaii Island, the state and beyond, Akaka said, if elected to represent residents spanning from Lako Street to Kona Village, she would work to bring more “good development” to Hawaii Island to increase the number of jobs available.
“I’m for good, conscious and responsible development,” Akaka said, “so long as it provides jobs for people and benefits the community as a whole.”
By getting land stewards, kupuna, and those in the community with knowledge of the land and area more involved in the process, Akaka said developments might better fit into the landscape and culture and be more successful.
“It’s important to have developments that really make sense with our settings for the locals, for the tourists — for everyone,” she said.
Akaka will face Fred Housel, Bucky Leslie and Nicole Lowen in the Aug. 11 primary election for the Democratic ticket in the 2012 general election.
The district features no incumbent following the state’s reapportionment process, which is one reason Akaka said she decided to seek the seat.
Her decision also follows the blessing of her paternal grandfather, Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, who is not seeking re-election to U.S. Congress this year.
“It was a shiny new seat, a great opportunity, and I am at a point in life where I am ready to be more involved in the community and make a positive difference,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity. And I don’t know when it will come again.”
Improving Hawaii’s public education system will require the state ensure teachers are not only qualified, but certified to teach, Akaka said, explaining that any such change would likely require a collaboration between the Hawaii State Teachers Association and the Board of Education.
She also pointed to providing an array of college preparation courses and an environment conducive to learning as ways to improve public schools.
“We need to provide education that meets the growing needs of our world, technologically, and (gives) students the opportunity to have educational and professional training,” she said.
The kids also need to get to school, Akaka said, noting her experience as a student in West Hawaii traveling across town to go to school.
Prioritizing spending might be the way to find funding to ensure continued school bus service.
“If education is the answer, then we need to have the students be able to get to school and safely,” she added.
To reduce the state’s dependence on fossil fuel for energy and transportation, Akaka said Hawaii needs to promote clean, efficient and renewable energy of all types. So long as geothermal energy can be produced in a safe and efficient manner, Akaka said she supports an increase in the island’s geothermal energy production. The possibility of state funding for such a venture would hinge on who benefits, she said.
But, no matter what form of energy production is pursued, concerns about environmental impacts need to be addressed before moving forward, she said.
Increasing taxes would have to be considered on a case-by-case basis, and after residents and others who would be affected are consulted, Akaka said.
The same goes for user fees, which she said would also have to be justified.