With decades of experience as a community servant, as a small business owner, as a resident, and as a father and grandparent, I recognize the struggles, hopes, and potential for the people of Kaua'i. I want to work for you. We need to create more living wage jobs, diversify our industries, support small business, improve our schools, remove gridlock and overreach in government, and make housing for residents a top priority. I know what it takes to find solutions, be fiscally responsible, navigate the complicated red tape, and get things done.
LIST OF ISSUES
We are facing a housing crisis with a shortage of rentals and affordable housing options leaving many Kaua'i residents stressed and distraught over a very basic, universal need. Lack of stable housing solutions impacts every facet of our economic, health, and educational outcomes for the community as a whole. Housing crises have been proven to affect all of us even if your immediate family has secure housing. And, Saito recognizes that the success of community is connected.
This housing shortage - and related lack of affordability - has been exasperated by the rise of vacation rentals in our local communities. I recognize this is a complicated issue tied to the foundations of our local economy, but one that leaves local residents struggling to find housing solutions. I'm taking a logical, equitable, and morally sound look at policies affecting the cost and availability of housing for residents of Kaua'i. Stand up for your community and vote Saito for City Council voicing your concerns on housing.
See "Wages and Economy" for more about these linkages.
My values equity and improved access and availability of quality education on Kaua'i. We need to support early education, our schools, teachers, administrators, programs for children, and more opportunities for job training and higher education that will help our children thrive and grow at our children's greatest potential. When children feel a sense of support, security, belonging, and opportunity, they will grow into responsible, empathetic, talented adults ready to give back to our communities rather than feel helpless and trapped.
I see the complicated links between education at all levels, the economy, health, housing, and stability. Saito will take an integrated, broad approach to improving and supporting our education. I'm exited to get out there to hear what caregivers, parents, teachers, program directors, and administrators have to say and hope to accomplish with me on the Kaua'i County Council.
See "Wages and Economy" for more about these linkages.
Wages and the Economy
This issue is two-fold.
1) Wages do not support residents' rising cost of living;
2) The economy needs to be diversified, and restructured in a way that retained and attracts talent while being nimble and sustainable in the face of change or uncertainty. This means that we can no longer support any and all policy if and when it hurts our local residents. And, we need to find a way to support small business and build or attract other industries so that the local economy that we all benefit from can survive and thrive despite fluctuations in tourism.
Wages have been long depressed while the cost of living continues to rise. The effects of this imbalance are far reaching to economic outcomes, family/relationship stability, physical and mental health, housing, hunger, abuse, and the loss of young, local talent. This disparity in wages does not go along with our culture on the island. And, Saito makes this issue a priority at the table for change.
Without a balance, the island will continue to see an exodus of young talent leaving a gap in our labor supply, an inability to grow with innovation, and the fundamental system supporting our aging population fall apart. We have seen our educators, doctors, nurses, engineers, and children leave as a result of low, uncompetitive compensation.
Parents need to work more than one job to survive, cutting into important family time that has been proven to impact children's developmental, educational, emotional, and health outcomes. Where parents work odd hours, it can be difficult to get children to school on time, support them with homework, and attend important life events. Throwing in housing insecurities - linked to wages, the stress to families and children result in similar emotional, health, educational, and job success. Stress in families is linked to health problems, abuse, and neglect (whether intentional or not). It is a vicious cycle. When experienced over generations the effects multiply exponentially. This in turn can have an result in instability and strain on our economy.
The residents of Kaua'i feel every bump of fluctuations in tourism - our primary industry. While tourism is indeed vital, our over-reliance on this industry puts Kaua'i at risk when it fails, and has stunted growth in other possible industries. I understand that just because this is something we have been doing for a long time, it doesn't mean that we should continue to do it. What other industries could we explore and support as an island if we open our minds to it?
There have been concessions to this industry that negatively impact our residents and businesses even within the industry itself. One example is the hot-topic of vacation rentals set in our neighborhoods and send money out of the island. Homes and condos bought up for the sole purpose of being a vacation rental affects us in a few ways. First, it puts a strain on the availability of housing options - worsening our housing crisis. And, where known vacation rentals are found in our neighborhoods, we have seen an uptick in crime and a rise of safety concerns. Online vacation rentals owned by non-residents compete with local B&Bs and hotels that employee residents.
Kaua'i's living wage and economic structure is unsustainable. This ends up costing us more as a community as a whole than what we can afford.