COVID-19: RESOURCES & INFORMATION FOR HAWAI‘I

I am running for Governor to make it clear that
Hawaiʻi is not for sale

Hawaiʻi’s moment is now. We need a decisive, action-oriented leader who won’t be swayed from serving our working people and families by special interests that contribute thousands of dollars to advance campaigns and political careers.

We need to restore the trust in government and make our government more accountable to the people. And with courage, we can make this change.

I am running for governor on a grassroots, publicly funded campaign because I know that our hard-working local families deserve the best out of our state’s leadership. We will build the Hawaiʻi we deserve — the Hawaiʻi we were promised.

Campaign Reform

Our democracy only works when we have a meaningful voice in our electoral process. The ring of wealth, power, and influence across the state has shut out Hawaiʻi’s people from having any say on the direction we are going. How will we ever address the worsening crises that are hurting our local communities if our government remains unaccountable to Hawaiʻi’s people? We need bold, courageous campaign finance reform to break the barriers that keep average voters from steering our state government. This is my 10-point plan to courageously reform our democracy and place it back where it belongs — in the hands of Hawaiʻi’s hard-working people.

Supercharge public campaign funding

Lower contribution limits

Cap campaign war chests

Prohibit corporate contributions

Prohibit union contributions

Regulate “bundling” of contributions

Term limits for elected officials

Term limits for Governor

Ban in-session contributions

Reform automatic voter registration

Restoring Trust in the Public Trust

U.S. Congress established our great state in 1959 on the condition that the State of Hawaiʻi would establish and manage the ceded Public Land Trust for the benefit of Native Hawaiians and the general public. Ensuring that the state restores its kuleana to manage this public trust is a foundation of my platform for governor. The enumerated purposes of the trust are at the core of our most important issues still today. These responsibilities to public trust lands — responsibilities that the state has often neglected — was a promise from the state to the people of Hawai’i. These are the promises we are due.

Hawaiʻi Admissions Act, 1959, Section 5(f)
“The lands granted to the State of Hawaii … shall be held … as a public trust for the support of the public schools and other public educational institutions, for the betterment of the conditions of native Hawaiians, … for the development of farm and home ownership on as widespread a basis as possible for the making of public improvements, and for the provision of lands for public use.”

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Public Education

Our local kids deserve good local schools. Our public education system can do better. The Department of Education (DOE) needs proposals that address teacher hiring and retention, additional resources leveraged through DOE assets, and improved facilities. We need to ensure that our public school teachers feel valued and respected through improving their work environments and developing programs to incentivize retention.

Workforce development
Diversifying our economy means ensuring that our local people have the skills and experience in new sectors. The state must be at the forefront of fostering workforce development across educational institutions and industries.

Native Hawaiians

Bettering the conditions of Native Hawaiians is enshrined in our State Constitution. The trust language which created the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) stipulated that OHA was to receive the income and proceeds derived from a pro rata portion of the trust revenue. The state has historically neglected this responsibility. And despite recent strides, it is past time that the State of Hawaiʻi be held accountable for this history of negligence, and for OHA to receive its constitutionally mandated revenue. Moreover, the glacial pace of the Department of Hawaiian Homelands (DHHL) has left thousands on the waitlist with no clear plan to develop more housing. DHHL is the only vehicle the state has to directly address the Native Hawaiian housing crisis.

Agriculture & Agribusiness

Diversifying our economy to include more agriculture has been a goal of the state for decades. Our governor and state can promote agribusiness — our state’s third largest industry —  through community driven policies that foster a healthy economic environment for these small businesses to thrive. We need agriculture policies that address the cost of doing business, returns on investment, and economies of scale. Achieving food sovereignty and diversifying our economy are both possible - but our hardworking agribusinesses need a helpful state government to fulfill these goals.

Housing

Every candidate for governor promises to address affordable housing. But our current approach isn’t working, and our state government has the obligation to address our housing crisis. We must prioritize selling affordable homes to local families and residents. My strategy as governor would include: building targeted workforce housing; developing fee mechanisms through tax-exempt bonds and bond activity caps; and building out housing plans specific to urban Honolulu and the rest of the state. Moreover, state and county trusts must be ready to purchase more land in the event of another housing market crisis. The governor should work with the counties to dramatically increase property tax rates for non-resident owners, crack down on illegal vacation rentals, and de-incentivize short-term rentals in our local neighborhoods.

Infrastructure

State government is supposed to provide basic services such as infrastructure. But our bureaucracy has been sluggish, inefficient, and lacks the capacity to meet the demand of our aging infrastructure needs. The federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is a once-in-a-lifetime investment in our roads, bridges, utilities, and resiliency. Without a capable, responsive, and innovative state government, we will miss many of these resources in the form of competitive grants. We must seize the moment to target the federal resources that are waiting for us.

Environment

The reality of climate change — intense storm events, severe droughts, and destructive sea level rise — is upon us. Invasive species pose serious threats to our native ecosystems and watersheds. But the state has been slow to adapt. Affected local households feel abandoned, with no direction or resources from the state. The time for well-polished and colorful reports and studies has passed. We need leadership from the governor and across agencies that will make the tough decisions required to steer the course as we adapt to a rapidly changing environment.

Public Education

Our local kids deserve good local schools. Our public education system can do better. The Department of Education (DOE) needs proposals that address teacher hiring and retention, additional resources leveraged through DOE assets, and improved facilities. We need to ensure that our public school teachers feel valued and respected through improving their work environments and developing programs to incentivize retention.

Workforce development
Diversifying our economy means ensuring that our local people have the skills and experience in new sectors. The state must be at the forefront of fostering workforce development across educational institutions and industries.

Native Hawaiians

Bettering the conditions of Native Hawaiians is enshrined in our State Constitution. The trust language which created the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) stipulated that OHA was to receive the income and proceeds derived from a pro rata portion of the trust revenue. The state has historically neglected this responsibility. And despite recent strides, it is past time that the State of Hawaiʻi be held accountable for this history of negligence, and for OHA to receive its constitutionally mandated revenue. Moreover, the glacial pace of the Department of Hawaiian Homelands (DHHL) has left thousands on the waitlist with no clear plan to develop more housing. DHHL is the only vehicle the state has to directly address the Native Hawaiian housing crisis.

Agriculture & Agribusiness

Diversifying our economy to include more agriculture has been a goal of the state for decades. Our governor and state can promote agribusiness — our state’s third largest industry —  through community driven policies that foster a healthy economic environment for these small businesses to thrive. We need agriculture policies that address the cost of doing business, returns on investment, and economies of scale. Achieving food sovereignty and diversifying our economy are both possible - but our hardworking agribusinesses need a helpful state government to fulfill these goals.

Housing

Every candidate for governor promises to address affordable housing. But our current approach isn’t working, and our state government has the obligation to address our housing crisis. We must prioritize selling affordable homes to local families and residents. My strategy as governor would include: building targeted workforce housing; developing fee mechanisms through tax-exempt bonds and bond activity caps; and building out housing plans specific to urban Honolulu and the rest of the state. Moreover, state and county trusts must be ready to purchase more land in the event of another housing market crisis. The governor should work with the counties to dramatically increase property tax rates for non-resident owners, crack down on illegal vacation rentals, and de-incentivize short-term rentals in our local neighborhoods.

Infrastructure

State government is supposed to provide basic services such as infrastructure. But our bureaucracy has been sluggish, inefficient, and lacks the capacity to meet the demand of our aging infrastructure needs. The federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is a once-in-a-lifetime investment in our roads, bridges, utilities, and resiliency. Without a capable, responsive, and innovative state government, we will miss many of these resources in the form of competitive grants. We must seize the moment to target the federal resources that are waiting for us.

Environment

The reality of climate change — intense storm events, severe droughts, and destructive sea level rise — is upon us. Invasive species pose serious threats to our native ecosystems and watersheds. But the state has been slow to adapt. Affected local households feel abandoned, with no direction or resources from the state. The time for well-polished and colorful reports and studies has passed. We need leadership from the governor and across agencies that will make the tough decisions required to steer the course as we adapt to a rapidly changing environment.

Meet Kai

Military2

Kai is a Native Hawaiian hailing from Hawaiʻi’s last remaining fishing village of Miloliʻi, in South Kona on Hawaiʻi Island. Kai’s commitment to his ʻāina aloha, or beloved homeland, of Hawaiʻi and serving community is rooted in the values he was immersed in by his father and kupuna all those years ago in Miloliʻi.

Kai is a proud product of Hawaiʻi’s public school system, having graduated from Hilo High in 1992 and going on to earn a BS in Education from UH Mānoa. Here, he balanced life as an NCAA Division-I student-athlete as a member of the UH Rainbow Warriors Men’s Volleyball Team. Following graduation, Kai returned to Hilo and was a teacher with the Hawai’i Department of Education.

Kai is a combat veteran, pilot, and a commissioned officer in the Hawaiʻi Air National Guard, U.S. Air Force where he continues to serve as a lieutenant colonel at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaiʻi. He served in Iraq and Afghanistan as a C-17 Globemaster III and C-130 Hercules pilot in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Kai is also a commercial pilot for Hawaiian airlines, working alongside his wife, Maria, who is a senior flight attendant. Together, their most important kuleana is raising and caring for their daughters who attend Hawaiian language immersion school in Hilo.

Kai was appointed to the Hawaiʻi State Senate for District 1 by Governor David Ige in February 2016 following the untimely and unexpected death of his father, the late Senator Gil Kahele. He was subsequently elected and re-elected to the seat by wide margins in 2016 and 2018. During his tenure as a state senator, he served as the Majority Whip and Majority Floor Leader as well as the Chair of the Committees on Higher Education and Water and Land.

In 2020, Kai was elected to represent Hawaiʻi’s 2nd Congressional District in Washington D.C. Congressman Kahele serves on two House committees, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and the Armed Services Committee.

Congressman

Hawaiian Lands in Hawaiʻi's Hands
Shaping the Military’s Future in Hawaiʻi

We are taking action right now to change the way politics work in Hawaiʻi. Kahele for Governor is a publicly funded, grassroots campaign and will not be taking donations over $100. We know that our opponents have taken, and will continue to take, large donations, up to $6,000, from individual donors and corporations. But we are committed to being the change we seek! Our power is truly in numbers of people, not numbers of dollars!

Be the change.
Donate now!