Our beloved state is made up of mostly working people just like myself and the family that raised me. I watched my mother struggle to work three jobs just to keep my sister and I fed, clothed, and in school. Unfortunately, things have yet to improve much as for issues such as: The working class and poor individuals who have always been the backbone of our economy - The protections for our ecosystems that sustain all life on our islands and in our oceans - and our buildings, schools, and public spaces we use each day. The years ahead of us are crucial in deciding which direction our economy, our housing, and our communities are headed. Our future depends on returning power to the people, on leaders that serve the wellbeing of the people first, and not just those with access to wealth and power. Democracy works only when we participate and vote. It is time we vote for solutions for the people, not profits for a handful of corporations. Government has not provided much promise that they are willing to work together and push hard to turn that around. It is time we say “enough is enough.” We need leaders who will stand up and fight for our biggest issues such as:
Hawaiʻi needs REAL affordable housing. Currently 'affordable housing' still looks like homes starting at $700,000. This is out of the range for working families, young adults, and our kupuna on fixed incomes.
We need to make sure that every resident has equal access to housing. For starters we must close the loophole for developers to pay a fee in order to get out of building affordable housing when constructing new projects. We have enough million dollar condominiums in town.
We need to be supporting our teachers, schools, and working toward debt-free education for our residents.
Hawaiʻi’s teachers deserve a living wage that allows them to thrive, not just scrape by. These same teachers should have autonomy in their classrooms untying their hands from teaching unrealistic standards, standardized testing goals, and other one-size-fits-all standards that fail to meet our students needs.
Pictured is Randy Gonce with students at the Olelo Youth Xchange
We need real measurable solutions for our houseless population. Homeless sweeps and the criminalization of our houseless population are aggravating the problem and lead to more issues. It burdens our prison/jails, our courts, and makes the tax payer pay for these services. With a large population of our residents just one paycheck away from being on the street this is an issue that needs leaders.
Pictured is Randy at the first Kāneʻohe Homeless Fair with some great advocates and community organizers
The State of Hawaiʻi has a tax structure that weighs heavier on our working class residents than those at the top of the economic ladder. Our middle and lower classes are struggling to make ends meet and each year that this goes by unaddressed or with marginal assistance is another year families struggle. Many working families are one emergency or loss of a paycheck away from poverty and houselessness.
I have worked on things in the past such as a state Working Families Tax Credit (state EITC), trying to lift taxes on food & medical supplies, paid family leave, collective bargaining rights for graduate students, increasing the renters credit, and much more. We have had little to no success on these issues but there is a dire need for all of them.
As someone who has been a working class worker my whole life I know that we need leaders who are willing to push these initiatives to assist working families.
We must preserve our districtʻs agricultural land, conservation land, natural resources, unique cultural, historical, and community sites (i.e. Kahaluʻu lagoon, watershed, and our non-profits who are working to restore sustainability in our communities...Pae Pae o Heʻiea, Papahana Kuaola, Kākoʻo ʻŌiwi, etc).
Randy has spent many countless hours volunteering to assist in the Haiku stream restoration, loʻi maintenance, and many more sustainable practices in the Koʻolaupoko region. Perpetuating this stewardship around the islands and teaching our keiki the power of giving back to the ʻāina is crucial for a healthy future.
Pictured is Randy and his friend Kauʻi at an EAducation weekend