Kai Kahele


Photo: Kai Kahele

  • Age | 48
  • Occupation | Hawaiian Airlines Pilot
  • Where did you grow up | Miloliʻi and Hilo, Moku o Keawe
  • Schooling | UH Mānoa
  • Current residence | Hilo, Moku o Keawe
  • Website | www.hawaiinotforsale.com
  1. Housing is the foundational underpinning of a strong and vibrant community. Our failure to deliver affordability over time has broken up families and is a leading factor in our “brain drain,” as younger generations have left Hawaiʻi to find affordability elsewhere. My housing commitment is to unpack the complexity and get back to the basics. Government must play a role in helping, not hindering affordable housing development, and today’s opportunity, especially with the flow of federal funds, is for federal, state and county levels of government to invest in our community by building a regional infrastructure of roads, water, sewer and public facilities. As governor, my job will be to lead and facilitate these efforts. The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands plays a critical role in the housing crisis of Native Hawaiians and with the influx of state funds and federal NAHASDA funds whomever the next governor decides to appoint as director and deputy director of DHHL will be critical to the agency’s future success.
  2. For agriculture, we want to be sustainable and self-sufficient, which will increase our food security. Sustainability is when we grow what we eat and eat what we grow. As governor, I will:
    1) Increase to 3% as part of the governor’s budget to the 2023 Legislature dedicated to the Department of Agriculture, (up 2.6% from the current 0.4%) with an eye on rebuilding the DOA budget to pre-2008 levels with inflation factored; 2) Establish a governor’s task force for the purposes of developing legislation requiring the purchase of local food products, including ʻulu, kalo, and ʻuala for the state government school, prison, and hospital systems; 3) Water: modernizing our irrigation systems will require enormous investments and is one of my top priorities; 4) Propose a dedicated funding stream to supplement Hawaiʻi agricultural projects and environmental protection; 5) Require all administrator-level staff to have procurement delegation to generate contracts and have 25% of their staff that can seek, apply for, manage/administer funding from federal, state, and other sources.
  3. The single most important goal for the state and nation is the advancement of the health, safety, welfare and education of its citizens. The fact that the state is not meeting its mandate in the constitution of providing Hawaiian language immersion education within our DOE schools is unacceptable. As Hawaiʻi’s governor, I would appoint a member to the Board of Education that has experience in Hawaiian language immersion education. I would then direct my deputy chief of staff to do a comprehensive review in collaboration with the BOE to identify all schools that currently do not have any Hawaiian language immersion instruction. Working together with the University of Hawaiʻi, we desperately need more Native Hawaiian speakers.
    Our next governor must move Hawaiʻi forward as a collective through the myriad of issues facing the Hawaiian community. This will require tough conversations within and with Hawaiian communities, leaders, and stakeholders. It will also require tough conversations with public and private decision-makers. We will never achieve our potential to serve Hawaiʻi’s people and place if we don’t find a way to resolve these issues and collectively move forward.

Yes/No Questions for Gubernatorial Candidates (4)

  1. Yes
  2. Yes
  3. Yes
  4. Yes

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