Tell a Local Lawmaker

The following editorial was originally published in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on Sunday, January 2, 2022 as part of the "Raise Your Hand" column in the Insights section.

Happy 2022: Eyes on the Future

By: Center for Tomorrow’s Leaders High School Students Across Hawaiʻi

It’s safe to say that many in Hawai’i are concerned about the future of our islands. Over 350 CTL high school students from across the state wrote a response to the prompt, “Tell a local lawmaker: What is the one thing that must change in order for you to picture yourself having a good future in Hawai’i?” Here’s some excerpts of what the next generation wants legislators to take action on now:

“Since I live on the west side of the island and attend school on the east side, I often experience hour-long traffic drives. I think it's really frustrating to a lot of Hawai’i residents…I believe this frustration is also caused by the amount spent on the rail – something that was supposed to help traffic that is still not finished.”

Rachel Suzuki, Roosevelt High School

“Unfortunately, money is an integral part of the picture when it comes to my future here in Hawai’i. The current career I’m aspiring for would not cover the cost of living. It is disappointing to think that I may never be able to afford buying even my own house at current market price.”

Jamie Hirano, Castle High School

“Hawai'i lawmakers need to practice communication and openness. There is so much that is unknown about the injustices and issues within the community, things I wouldn't have known about had I not done my own research. As leaders, they can only bring our state to a good future if both the lawmakers and the citizens know what's going on.”

Erin Song, McKinley High School

“The job outlook in Hawaii, especially on Kaua’i. There needs to be better paying jobs if I can have a future here. If there aren't any decent paying jobs or a high demand in jobs for the health profession over here then I can’t really have a successful future and would have to be forced to move somewhere else.”

Shylah Bagaoisan-Rita, Waimea High School

“I want the people to have more say in laws and the islands’ political issues, including people buying land in Hawai’i without living there for a year and environmental racism where rich areas have little landfills or jails and poor areas have more.”

Sincer Watson, Kapolei High School

“In my opinion, Hawai’i's aloha ways have changed from when I was a baby. People nowadays are quick to jump to fighting and getting mad over the little things. The aloha that once was needs to come back because sooner or later, Hawai’i is going to be just like the mainland and that's not the Hawai’i way.”

Kana Ajolo, Pearl City High School

“I hope that Hawai’i becomes a place where the true culture is captured in the different aspects of life. A place that is affordable for the larger local families that want to put their roots in this soil. I want Hawai’i to be a place that does not alter its definition of Hawaiian culture in order to accommodate for outside viewers, but rather allows them to see the raw culture.”

Macie-Lynn Ramos, Waimea High School

“The current local food production percentage…If a shortage was to happen or some kind of problem that delays the ships/planes that deliver our food from the mainland, how will the people of Hawai’i be able to provide for themselves?”

Jan Victoria San Agustin, Maui High School

“Much like the mainland, Hawai’i is becoming a jungle of concrete. There are constantly new buildings being built on open land and there's a rail that hasn't even been finished after years of it standing there. Slowly we are losing the land completely which leaves locals with nothing much to remind them of where they came from.”

Mariessa Gaison, Wai’anae High School

“In my opinion more local voices should be heard because I think we should have a say in things, not only the government. When I turn 18, I want my vote to count and I want it to matter. I would also want everyone to stand up for what they know or think is right.”

Konapiliahi Ho’opi’i, Kapolei High School

“One thing that must change in Hawai’i is the way we people do things to abuse or hurt the environment for personal gain. Many places all over Hawai’i have dying ocean life because of overfishing, etc. We need new laws and regulations to let certain areas heal and repopulate specific species, thus helping us to have a stable future for other generations.”

Nainoa Lato, Hilo High School

“One thing that must change…is Hawai’i answering the call to action. Everyone complains about things like the Rail, taxes, lack of local appeal, while politicians make promises they don’t keep. So we stay in this toxic cycle of ‘they should have done this’, or ‘we are going to do this’, or ‘we plan to do’, but no one does anything. So if we want our keiki to be successful and be able to live in Hawai’i, we need to stop focusing on the ‘what if’ and ‘what we could have’ and just do.”

Carollen St. Ledger, Pearl City High School

Out of 350+ student responses statewide...What must change in order for Hawaiʻi's youth to picture themselves having a good future here?

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