LAHAINA - Sen. Roz Baker (D) said she wants to use her 20 years of legislative experience "to continue working with our Senate delegation to get results for the people of the Sixth District and Maui County."
Republican Bart Mulvihill
wants to bring new blood and his modern business experience to the legislature.
Lahaina residents Baker and Mulvihill will face off for the Sixth District seat in the Hawaii Senate in the General Election on Tuesday, Nov. 6.
Baker, 66, has held the seat since 2002. She said she wants to keep working on priorities for West and South Maui.
"For the past ten years, I've had the opportunity to represent South and West Maui and work on issues important to all of us. I'm proud of what we've been able to accomplish together, but there is more to do," she said.
Her priorities include completing the Lahaina Bypass and jump-starting the Kihei to Upcountry road with federal help, instituting more safe routes to schools, securing funding to build Kihei High School, alleviating overcrowding in South and West Maui elementary schools through portables and new buildings, initiating the process to build a new elementary school and improving access to healthcare and senior services.
"These are just a few of the reasons I'm running for reelection to the Senate," she explained. "Even in tough economic times, we were able to bring home over half-a-billion dollars in projects and services in the past two years to help fix our aging infrastructure and put hundreds of Maui residents back to work."
Mulvihill, 52, told the Lahaina News, "I am running because the incumbent cannot see trouble before problems evolve with bills passed by her committees, and we need a person with a record of bringing parties together in concert for everybody's best interest. The current senator doesn't have the experience working with the private sector on a larger scale that requires modern business experience"
Talking to people in the community, Baker said jobs, the economy and school facilities are the three biggest issues in the 2012 elections.
Mulvihill said the key issues are pursuing Kihei High School, halting wasteful spending in the Department of Education, moving the Lahaina Bypass forward to help relieve Honoapiilani Highway and "coordinating a public safety campaign like 'Weed and Seed' for Kihei and old Lahaina Town to keep repeat felons off the main tourist street."
According to Sen. Baker, primary needs in the Sixth District include building a high school in Kihei; improving the learning environment in all schools; securing repair and maintenance funds for district schools, as well as funding for more portables and new buildings to alleviate overcrowding at King Kamehameha III and Kihei Elementary schools; finishing the current phases of the Lahaina Bypass; restarting the planning for additional lanes around the Pali to Maalaea; getting started on the Kihei-Upcountry highway; and addressing homelessness and senior support services, including long-term care in the community.
Mulvihill said lawmakers must recognize the Sixth District's tax contributions, "and funds should come back to the district proportionately without begging for it." It takes a strong voice to call out the problems tempered with good manners, he added.
"The state needs to be a partner with business everywhere and find ways to get goals of investors met while acting as an ambassador of prospective tech and ag to clean energy companies to act, versus seeing the state in chaos by overtaxing or pressuring regulations," he commented.
Mulvihill also stated that costs in the Department of Health need to be reduced, there should be more competition when funding public projects, and the bidding process of the procurement system needs to be eliminated and replaced with an efficient model that costs the state less money.
Baker believes that state government can support Maui's economy by providing funding to rehabilitate public housing facilities and complete infrastructure projects that can create jobs; continuing to allow the county to receive its share of the transient accommodations tax; keeping policies in place to support renewable energy efforts and other tech industries, "so that our kama'aina can come back to Maui to work;" and providing more resources and a highly qualified teacher in every classroom to help ensure the advancement of students' futures.
Looking at education, Baker said, "While it is easy to lay blame about test scores or what's wrong with our schools, I prefer to focus on the positives. Local youth are as bright and as talented as anyone born on the Mainland. Although they may not share the same culture, backgrounds or experiences, they compete and win national scholarships, go to college or become proficient in a much-needed trade or vocation. They become productive, contributing members of our community. We need to help our youth aspire to their full potential."
Parents and community members should look for ways to partner with school administrators and teachers to enhance education and opportunities for students, Baker said.
"Although money doesn't solve all problems, the solutions to issues facing our schools do cost money: for new technology, transportation, highly qualified teachers, updating older schools ill-equipped for the 21st century - the list goes on. I don't believe we adequately fund our schools and want to see our processes streamlined, accountable and collaborative, so the funds can be more efficiently and effectively used," she said.
"It is important that Hawaii schools continue to strive for excellence, evaluate their performance and institute measures that will help teachers teach more effectively. When educators are student-focused, they can engage young minds to learn even in the midst of administrative and out-of-school challenges beyond their control."
Mulvihill said, "Education is an embarrassment because of an overstaffed inner management, where duplicated jobs need to be eliminated attrition should be encouraged with retirees who are still working and limiting new jobs with a more efficient DOE.
"Until local county boards can be established to reduce waste, we will get nowhere. Addressing the dropout rate, parents need to put their kids first and help teachers via more home interaction to increase test scores and workplace possibilities."
Baker's career in politics includes serving in the Hawaii House of Representatives, representing West Maui, Molokai and Lanai, from 1988-93. She was appointed to the Senate in November 1993 by Gov. John Waihee to represent West Maui, part of Central Maui, Molokai and Lanai. Baker was then was elected to the Senate in 1994, lost her reelection bid in the 1998 Democratic Primary, then elected to serve in the Senate's Fifth District seat (South and West Maui) in 2002, '04 and '08.
After graduating from high school, Baker earned a Bachelor of Arts, Political Science & Speech Degree with a Secondary Teaching Certificate at Southwest Texas State University (now known as Texas State University at San Marcos) in 1968. She then enrolled in graduate studies in political science in 1968-69 at the University of Southwestern Louisiana (now University of Louisiana, Lafayette).
Active in the community, Baker is involved with the American Cancer Society, Hawaii-Pacific (board chair and volunteer); Maui Economic Development Board (director); Rotary Club of Lahaina Sunrise (past president, member); West Maui Domestic Violence Task Force, Women Helping Women and Maui Children & Youth Day (co-chair, cofounder). She volunteers for Lahaina Plantation Days and is a frequent member of area school inspection teams.
"I work very hard to stay connected to the South and West Maui communities by getting involved in community service projects and activities while being accessible to all. I have a great staff that helps me respond to constituents when they need assistance or just want information. We may not be able to solve everything that comes before us, but we seem to be the go-to office when people want results," she commented.
Mulvihill graduated from Seabury Hall in 1978 and attended the University of Hawaii Maui College in 1979. After studying in real estate programs, he earned his Broker's Certification from the Hawaii Academy of Real Estate in 1997.
In 2008, he ran for the Fifth District Senate seat and lost in the Democratic Primary.
Baker said Tuesday is a really important day, with many county charter and constitutional amendments on the ballot and critical federal, state and local offices at stake.
"Voting is the most basic - but the most important - way to participate in our government. Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 6 p.m. I urge everyone to take time to vote on November 6," Baker said.