A resident of Kailua-Kona for more than 20 years, Nicole has been serving as your State Representative since 2012. Nicole was born on the mainland, but moved overseas as a baby. She grew up abroad moving from country to country every few years due to her father's career in the foreign service. She never had a place to call home until finding one here on Hawaii Island.
Before becoming involved in local politics, Nicole was a teacher and school administrator at Hawaii Montessori School in Kona for a decade, and, like many Kona residents, often had more than one job to make ends meet. She has also worked as a waitress, a realtor, and in customer service at a local dive shop.
Nicole first became involved in politics while in graduate school studying planning and environmental policy. In 2012, she worked at the State Legislature and had the opportunity to see government in action in person. After working at the legislature, it became clear that government must be changed from the inside and made more transparent and accountable. With the encouragement of colleagues, friends, and family, Nicole made the leap and decided to run for office.
Experience and Education
Professional and Volunteer Experience:
- State Representative since 2012
- Current positions held in the Hawaii State House
- Chair, Grants-in-Aid (subcommittee of the Finance Committee)
- Vice Chair, Committee on Energy and Environment
- Member, Committee on Finance
- Member, Committee on Water and Land
- Current positions held in the Hawaii State House
- Legislative Researcher/Committee Clerk, Hawaii State Legislature, 2012
- Teaching Assistant, University of Hawaii Department of Urban and Regional Planning, 2011
- Policy Researcher, University of Hawaii Department of Urban and Regional Planning, 2009-20011
- Legislative Liaison, University of Hawaii Environmental Center, 2009-2010
- Teacher/Office Manager, Hawaii Montessori School at Kona, 1996--2007
- Sierra Club Hawaii Chapter Executive Committee Member, 2012-2014
- Sierra Club Capitol Watch Volunteer, 2011-2012
- Ke Kai Ola Advisory Board Member, 2016-2017
- Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce Member
- AAUW Kona Chapter Member
- Rotary Club Member
- University of Pennsylvania, BA in US History
- University of Hawaii at Manoa, MA in Urban Planning
- University of Hawaii at Manoa, Graduate Certificate in Disaster Management
Since 2012, we have accomplished so much for West Hawaii and for the State! Below are some highlights.
- Palamanui Community College: funded and built phase one and opened the new campus!
- Kona Courthouse: fully funded a much needed courthouse building for West Hawaii. Groundbreaking on the project will happen in the fall of this year.
- Secured over $300 million for infrastructure, schools, hospitals, roads and harbors in West Hawaii.
- Education: We have increased funding to our public school through the weighted student formula, expanded early childhood education with record funding for Preschool Open Doors and allocated $100 million towards cooling our classrooms statewide.
- Renewable Energy: I have authored and passed several bills to help expand our renewable energy resources and lower costs. In 2015, we passed a bill to make Hawaii 100% renewable by 2045 and end our dependence on imported fossil fuels, becoming the first state in the nation to do this.
- Affordable Housing and Homelessness: one of our most pressing issues is the need for more affordable housing and to address our growing homeless population. Last session, we restructured the affordable housing tax credit to create better incentives for development of affordable housing, put millions into our rental housing trust fund, and greatly increased the funding for our State's homeless services.
- Government Transparency and Accessibility: We expanded voting access with bills to increase turnout, modernize the election system, and prevent election fraud. We passed a resolution urging congress to take action prevent the oversized influence of money in politics, as well as passed bills to strengthen our State's campaign and lobbyist disclosure laws. I created a remote testimony (videoconferencing) pilot project in the State House, with plans to continue to extend it to additional committees in the future.
- Agriculture: created a program in the Department of Agriculture to help coffee farmers with the cost of combatting the coffee berry borer and to assist them in integrating new pest management practices into their farms and businesses. The coffee industry is a large part of Hawaii Island's economy and cultural heritage, and we must ensure it continues.
- Protecting the Environment: in 2013, we repealed the controversial PLDC that would have allowed some public land development to be exempted from the State's environmental review laws. As the vice chair of the Committee on Energy and Environment, I have passed many bills to protect our precious natural resources, including to help phase out cesspools, combat invasive species and plan for climate change.
- Fiscal Responsibility and Debt Reduction: As a member of the Finance Committee, I have worked to ensure that while we fund needed programs and departments, we also look towards financial stability in the future. In the past four years we have allocated hundred of millions towards paying down our debts and replenishing the State's reserve funds. This will also help us to qualify for lower rates on bonds and reduce our liabilities moving forward.
- Opposing Regressive Tax Increases: income and general excise tax revenues go into the general fund and are the primary funding source for our State budget. Responsible budgeting requires difficult choices, and there are many programs that could benefit from additional revenue. However, funds should not be coming out of the pockets of those who can least afford it, small business owners, and working families struggling with Hawaii's high cost of living. I have voted against increasing the GET, and do not support regressive tax increases.