When a child is born in Hawaii, our hope for them is pure. As she speaks her first words, we tell her that she can be whatever she wants to be. As he takes his first steps, we tell him that he can live a good, healthy life right here among family. This is our promise for a better future.

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But lately, for many, this is an empty promise. Families and communities across Hawaii continue to struggle.

I’m running for governor because in my heart I believe there are answers for all of us with a shift to a Family-Focused Economy — one that meets the basic needs of our families. That is the foundation of my economic plan. It has many facets, but today I will highlight three areas that I believe will have the most impact on everyone, every day.

First is action on the lack of affordable housing. This deficit drives residents away and keeps them from being able to live in Hawaii. This is unacceptable and, as governor, I would work with the Legislature to declare a State of Emergency for Affordable Housing. We are in a crisis now and making this declaration would allow us to expedite the process and accelerate the development of affordable housing.

My Affordable Housing Plan includes:

1) Rent-to-Own: Many first-time home buyers are unable to produce a down payment. But rent-to-own would allow monthly rental payments over a 25-year period to serve as mortgage payments, enabling the occupant to ultimately own the home;

2) Designated Workforce Housing: for teachers, nurses/health care workers, and first responders as they are a critical part of a sustainable community; and

3) Affordable Rental Housing: for those who choose not to own property here but want to live in Hawaii reasonably.

Many Native Hawaiian beneficiaries have been sitting for decades on wait lists managed by the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands — pastoral, agricultural and housing. Policies that fast-track affordable housing for our communities will benefit both those on the DHHL wait lists and the affordable housing market-at-large.

Vicky Cayetano speaks at a press conference held near Nuuanu Elementary School. Cayetano proposed her priorities of her campaign.
Vicky Cayetano speaking at a press conference near Nuuanu Elementary School. Affordable housing is among her top campaign priorities. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022

Next, we need to shift Hawaii from a tourism-based economy to a family-focused economy. With any commercial development, we need to consider the impact of that development on residents and their families. As an example, we need to insure there is adequate affordable housing and schools to support the people who work there. And while tourism will always be critical to our state, we also need to focus on small businesses which are the backbone of our community.

I will create an Office of Small Business with the urgent mission of advising, streamlining, and clearing hurdles that prevent our small businesses from succeeding, growing, and hiring workers. It can also receive feedback on how government can better serve this important sector.

I am ready to take action for a better Hawaii.

Third, but by no means last, as Hawaii’s economy has grown, we have welcomed large out-of-state enterprises. It’s time for the big box retailers who have benefited from Hawaii consumers to also be supportive of our communities. A Community Reinvestment strategy will require businesses (over a certain annual income) to contribute a designated percentage of their revenue to our nonprofits. This will ensure the sustainability of these service organizations which function as the safety net for many people. Mutually beneficial relationships are at the heart of a successful partnership between business and community.

Candidate Forum

As a business owner who helped to start and grow a small business to over one thousand employees in five locations, I have always focused on the root of the problems and the key areas of opportunity to move the organization forward. I will use this mindset to improve the way the government functions and to build a better economy for all.

There is much to be done and I will rely on my life experiences to take on Hawaii’s long-standing problems with a new approach. I am ready to take action for a better Hawaii. This is my promise to you.

More on the candidate is available on her website, vickyforgovernor.com.

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About the Author

  • Vicky Cayetano
    Vicky Cayetano is a longtime businesswoman, philanthropist, former First Lady and recent gubernatorial candidate. She is active in the community, advocating for small businesses, animal welfare, supporting the arts and other aspects of our community. Opinions are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Civil Beat's views.