Fern's local priorities are based around providing a safer, cleaner, more productive and sustainable community and environment.
Drug/Violence Rehabilitation & Prevention
Growing up on Kaua'i you have an inherent understanding for the deeply ingrained addiction issues our society faces. Addressing the issues we have associated with drug abuse is pivotal in addressing other concerns relating to crime, houselessness, poverty and an over crowded jail system and taxed government services.
I will continue to support and expand existing efforts to provide local drug rehabilitation services on Kaua`i and work to expand preventative programs and mental health programs.
We need to encourage current and future education programs and outreach and involve private organizations, churches and community groups to engage and unite to prevent, heal and deal with addiction and the social consequences it has in our communities and families.
Traffic & Improved Public Infrastructure
My immediate top priority will be addressing the major traffic congestion issues in the Wailua area by getting involved with the intersection upgrades for Wailua Homesteads and Wailua House Lots intersections with Kuhio Hwy. From day one I will work tenaciously with Department of Transport to make traffic relief in Kapaa their priority.
In addition I will address major traffic issues at the end of the road and work with the community to develop a north shore traffic and transit plan, to deal with overcrowding beyond Princeville, the lack of parking in Hanalei, the backup delays leaving Hanalei and the fiasco called parking at Ke’e.
As part of my commitment to helping facilitate solutions that will address chronic traffic problems in our district I will investigate the use of existing cane roads other routes; support expansions of public transport and push to complete the four lane project that would permanently deal with the dangerous contra flow issue.
In addition to these efforts I will work to ensure that our roads and infrastructure are improved, better drainage established and road safety prioritized. Solutions are available and I will work relentlessly on this issue from day one.
Houselessness & Affordable Housing
I will work for housing first solutions and comprehensive plans that address the interconnected social issues our community faces. While we address houselessness we also need to provide mental health solutions and real drug rehabilitation and support systems. As we address these things simultaneously we will have more success solving these issues rather than band-aiding them. I support efforts to help establish real housing first solutions that give people a base, an address and some stability. With stability people are able to go to classes, participate in the community, get mail and are much more likely to reestablish themselves into society and get back on their feet.
We need to reduce the cost of housing for locals and support affordable housing efforts in appropriate locations, with appropriate considerations to infrastructure and our country way of life. We need to investigate ways to reduce rents and housing costs and discourage off shore vacation home buying and extensive property price increases that push local families out of the market.
We need to be investing in the future and in quality effective education. I have a strong desire to help provide our children and communities with better schooling from preschool and early education through secondary and post high school learning.
Hawaiian public schools are the most underfunded in the nation, across the board. Our teachers are among the lowest paid in the nation and there are nearly 400 vacancies right now throughout the state where students are left without teachers, often for core classes like science. Solutions must be found.
Income inequality and its relationship to education and opportunity is astounding, nation wide. All children deserve the opportunity to good education and materials and equal opportunities to be educated and successful.
Food Production Agriculture
It's important to our entire community and our ongoing survival that we put our attention to supporting food production agriculture, farmers and food security. We must support food production agriculture parcels and programs and projects to get farmers initiated and self-sustaining.
A combination of backyard and community gardens and local food producing agriculture can reverse our 90% importation of food, but it must be a collaborative effort between all levels of government, community members, educators, non profits, farmers and consumers. Efforts to support local sustainable food producing agriculture will always be a top priority for me.
Renewable Energy & Self Sufficiency
Modern technology has provided an array of reliable and responsible forms of energy production and renewable resources. I support renewable energy programs that support responsible use of the environment through the use of solar, water, and wind power options, which are abundant in our islands.
I understand the importance of reducing our fossil fuel use and limiting our environmental footprint, particularly in relation to the significant ways we play a role in climate change. I believe we have the tools at our figure tips and by engaging the right educated groups to collaborate and brain storm we can come up for lasting solutions that lead us to a 100% renewable future.
Community, Culture & Environmental Protection
I support Hawaiian values and believe that the principles of the ahupua'a land management system and Hawaiian 'aina based priorities must be incorporated in modern decision and law making. I encourage and support the perpetuation of Hawaiian culture, language, education, food production and resource management in all aspects of our community and way of life that have a great deal of respect for the original native people of these islands.
Without community and culture we will never be able to truly conserve the environment. Only through real and open engagement with the wider community can we come up with successful conservation solutions to preserve our environment, native ecosystems and resources. We need to seek balance between regulation and education and with cultural understandings and modern science to come up with real community driven solutions to preserve our community, culture, and environment.
Hawaiian Rights & Access Rights
I am a strong supporter of Hawaiian rights and have a great amount of respect for our host culture. I also strongly support access rights and I will continue to insist that the Public Trust Doctrine is upheld and that access rights for local people and particularly native inhabitants are maintained and restored.
Native Ecosystem Restoration
Native ecosystem restoration is a priority and a passion for me. My ecology and environmental science background has taught me a deep appreciation for the values of biodiversity, healthy/balanced ecosystems, and native species.
I strongly support the adoption of a strong biosecurity plan for Hawai`i that implements dogs at every port, tough inter-island inspections and better oversight of imports and funds to address issues with invasive species.