For 16 years, Sharon has committed her legislative career to ensuring that state government lives up to its promises to the people of West Oahu. Whether it was providing the West side with a 4-year university, a new courthouse, new roads, new schools, affordable housing along with support services including healthcare, community centers and retail, Sharon continues to focus her priorities in building Ewa Villages and Kapolei, so it is a safe place, where we can live, work and play.
Three years ago, Sharon made a career switch from being a land use and construction attorney to building affordable housing. She was frustrated that the State of Hawaii continues to lag in building affordable housing and wanted to understand why. She is now working on a senior affordable rental near Chinatown and continues to commit her career to ensuring that all local residents, will have access to affordable housing.
As West Oahu is one of the only places left on Oahu that boasts affordable housing, Sharon continues to support all funding that incentivizes affordable housing to be built here. She has worked on an affordable rentals in Hoopili, helping to bring 320 units into our community. She has testified before the City Council to help bring more affordable housing to our State and is currently working on a senior affordable rental that will deliver 156 units to our kupuna. She continues to introduce legislation that will fast-track more affordable housing to be built.
When first elected, Sharon was frustrated with the lack of new roads and freeway connectivity to support all of the new housing. Her priorities were to get new roads connected to communities to improve our quality of life. She continues to make it a priority that new roads and streets support the development and to ensure that safety is a priority.
Sharon has been instrumental in many traffic relief measures for commuters on the West side. She worked with the Hawaii State Department of Transportation to have the shoulder lane heading townbound from Kualakai Parkway to Kunia, used as an additional throughlane during rush hour to alleviate traffic. She also worked with HDOT to allow a second lane to be used in the Zipper lane. She is responsible for many traffic improvements in the Second City including:
- Allowing right turns on red heading makaibound from Kualakai to Farrington
- Allowing right turns on red from the far right lane heading makaibound from Kualakai Parkway to Kapolei Parkway, and removing the delineators for the right lane
- Allowing two lanes on Kapolei Parkway heading east and westbound at the intersection of Ft. Barrette, to make left turns with traffic signal adjustments
- Adjusting the school crossing and traffic signals at the corner of Kama’aha Parkway and Kapolei Parkway, to help traffic flow while allowing Kapolei Middle School students to cross safely
- Re-striping the lanes on Kalaeloa Blvd., just past Kapolei Parkway for motorists to proceed safely on the H-1 freeway heading townbound
- Installing the traffic signal at the top of Kalaeloa Blvd. heading westbound on the H-1 to allow for traffic flow
- Working with the City on installing the delineators at Kapolei Parkway and Kunehi Street
- All improvements on Ft. Barrette including adding additional lanes, sidewalks, curbs and gutters
- Having the backbone roads in the Villages of Kapolei repaved
Sharon continues to prioritize education, particularly as we are coming out of the pandemic. Many of our students are now dealing with academic challenges having been subjected to distance-learning. And mental health issues are now a new reality. Sharon continues to support legislation that ensures a qualified, competent and caring teacher is in each of Hawaii’s classrooms. And she continues to secure funding to build more schools on the West side, due to our growth in population.
When first elected in 2006, Sharon’s number one priority was getting the UH West Oahu campus built, as government had promised the west side a 4-year campus for over 40 years. Sharon was responsible for securing funding to build the UHWO campus and in August 2012, they opened their doors. She is also responsible for securing funding for Hookele Elementary School, which resulted in Kapolei Elementary School no longer having to serve as a multi-track school. Most recently, she secured funding for Honouli’uli Middle School, which also resulted in Kapolei Middle School no longer having to serve as a multi-track school. She is a champion for public education and continues to stay involved with our schools.
The rights of our Native Hawaiian beneficiaries have always been a priority for Sharon. Ensuring that the Department of Hawaiian Homelands is adequately funded so that DHHL can continue to build more houses and get our beneficiaries off the waitlist, remains a priority. She also continues to work with DHHL to hold them accountable to our beneficiaries and their needs.
Sharon helped secure funding for DHHL to be built in Kapolei and supported its location to be close to our beneficiaries. She played an instrumental role in having Ka Makana Alii built on Homestead Lands so that a revenue stream would be in place for DHHL. Sharon is responsible for negotiating the conveyance of Lot 9 from the Hawaii Housing Finance Development Corporation to DHHL, so it can be used as a park for our Kaupea residents. Most recently, she co-sponsored HB2511, which appropriated $600 million to DHHL and that requires a multi-pronged approach to eliminating its waitlist.
As the West side has grown, there has been an increase in criminal activity. And throughout the pandemic, we have seen new crimes emerge such as theft of catalytic converters. Sharon has always prioritized the safety of our residents and continues to support bills that will increase penalties for crimes and which make it harder to commit crimes.
In 2008, theft of copper was a major problem for West Oahu, so much so, that even the copper wiring was stolen from the freeway lights between Kunia and Kapolei. Sharon passed legislation requiring identification and tracking of copper wire by dealers and sellers, while creating stiffer penalties for such theft. Most recently, she supported legislation to create stiffer penalties for theft of catalytic converters and to require tracking. One issue Sharon continues to pursue is placing more police officers at District 8 (Kapolei police station) because the area covers from Makaha to Ewa Beach so we need more officers. And she continues to work with our service providers to get the homeless off of our streets and into the services they need.
Sharon has always made economic development a priority. Whether it is diversifying tourism, creating jobs in various sectors, or incentivizing businesses to set up in Kapolei, Sharon knows that when Hawaii’s economy is healthy, the State can adequately fund roads, education, public safety, health and human services.
Sharon passed legislation that created a tax credit for businesses to be located in Kapolei and as a result, many new businesses, creating new jobs, are now in the Kapolei Business Park. One of Sharon’s priorities was to build a new creative media studio in West Oahu because it creates jobs for our students. She helped secure funding for our Creative Media Studio at UHWO and continues to support incentives for the film industry, as they provide diverse, well-paying jobs, while adding to millions of dollars of revenue to the State.
Sharon has always been a supporter of our military men and women, who serve our country, and for our veterans who have served. The National Guard Association awarded Sharon with the Charles Dick Medal of Merit for introducing a law that gives Guardsmen and women, and our veterans, an exemption on their vehicle weight tax. Most recently, she worked with the Office of Veteran Services and the Hawaii Housing Finance Development Corporation, to sight the new Hawaii’s Veteran Center in Kapolei (across from Walmart). She knows the importance of this facility for our veterans to provide them with the services they need, while connecting them with the community and conveniences, of West Oahu.