Why I'm Running

Aloha my name is Ian Ross and I’m running for State Senate District 11 - Mānoa, Makiki, Punchbowl, Papakōlea. Together we can get Hawaiʻi back on track.

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Meet Ian Ross

Aloha!


I was born in Senate District 11 and raised by my mother on Kauaʻi. Growing up I developed a passion for public service early on. I founded the Youth Advisory Committee to Mayor Bernard Carvalho where I spearheaded a successful campaign to establish the Kaulana Bus Pass a Kauaʻi Community College Student ID bus pass, which to this day continues to dramatically improve bus ridership among students and remove barriers for students attending college.

I am a proud graduate of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa with a B.A. in Economics and became more involved with public policy and community organizing. During my time as a student and for years afterward I was an Opportunity Leader with Opportunity Nation where I advocated nationally for provisions in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and other legislation that would help the 11.1% of Hawaii’s 16 to 24-year-olds who are neither employed nor in school to find worthwhile opportunities. This interest in the economic futures of young people inspired me to join the executive board of RYSE , a 501(c)3 non-profit organization operating a youth access center and shelter services. While on the executive Board, I worked with Senator Chang and Representative Tam introduce and pass HB282 in 2021 which finally allowed shelters to allow unaccompanied homeless minors to stay the night in shelters.

Until recently, I was the Public Policy and Advocacy Manager for the Alzheimer’s Association - Hawaiʻi where I successfully shepherded legislation improving dementia training standards for first responders and establishing a Dementia Coordinator position within the Executive Office on Aging. Today I work at the State Legislature as the legislative aide to the Chair of the Senate Committee on Housing. In total, I have 6 years of experience working professionally in legislative policy.

I am honored and privileged to serve as Chair of the Makiki/Lower Punchbowl/Tantalus Neighborhood Board. In my time as Chair, I have worked on community issues big and small. I initiated an annual Board Legislative Priority Report that we presented to our community’s legislators, passed a resolution calling for improvements to Makiki District Park and the establishment of a State Library in Makiki, called upon the City and County to abate the abandoned Pensacola home , and organized a community effort to work with State and Federal leaders to prevent the closure of the Mānoa Post Office . Recently I led the Board in calling upon the State of Hawaiʻi to adopt the ALOHA Homes proposal to increase the number of affordable homes, calling for local and state governments to work to diversify Hawaiʻi’s economy, and demanding the United States Navy defuel Red Hill and shutter the facility that is threatening Oʻahu’s drinking water.

I am running to be your next state Senator to apply my experience, passion, and energy to represent the best interests of our community, and all of Hawaiʻi. Today we find ourselves in a defining moment for Hawaiʻi. If elected, you can count on me to work with our community to find solutions together. I humbly ask for your vote.

Policies

Affordable Housing

Each year my heart breaks as lifelong friends move because they do not see a future here any longer. People find it hard to found a business, start a family, or purchase a place to call home. The so-called paradise tax weighs more and more heavily with each passing year. And no cost is more front-of-mind than that of housing.

One impact of the lack of affordable housing is that Hawaiʻi’s population is in freefall. Compared to other states, Hawaiʻi has the 3rd fastest rate of population decline. Ending Hawaiʻi’s Housing shortage will take time and won’t be easy but it is a priority to me that every resident can afford a place to call home. One problem is that today Hawaiʻi builds many homes, but you would not know it as many are either not affordable or built by private, wealthy investors and their clients.

In 2021 I introduced and passed a resolution through the Makiki/Lower Punchbowl/Tantalus Neighborhood Board calling upon our communities’s elected officials to support the ALOHA Homes proposal which would create low-cost homes only available for sale to Hawaiʻi residents in high density urban areas on state land away from current low density communities.

As State Senator, I would support:

  • Protecting our residential neighborhoods from monster homes and the proliferation of illegal vacation rentals

  • Building more affordable rentals

  • Expanding on Section 8 vouchers and to help those on the waitlist

  • Encouraging more housing below 140% AMI

  • Exploring options to tax vacant, out-of-state property and their owners

  • Paid Sick Leave

    The need to take time off to care for ill family members or a personal medical matter is universal. It is shameful that 100,000’s of employees are working without paid sick leave during a pandemic. They should not have to decide between going to work with the risk of infecting others or staying at home and foregoing their wage. For most families in Hawaiʻi, missing a day at work will create financial hardships, jeopardizing their housing situation or ability to buy groceries.

    This is the everyday reality for many working families in Hawaiʻi. We can and should change this by ensuring that all workers have access to sick leave for themselves, to care for ill family members, or even in the case of the death of a family member.

    Homelessness

    Tragically, Hawaiʻi struggles with one of the highest rates of homelessness per capita in the nation. From 2017-2020 I served on the Board of Directors from RYSE, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization operating a youth access center and shelter services in Kailua, Oʻahu. During my time there, I provided updates on pertinent legislative matters and shepharded legislation that ended an effective prohibition on service providers offering overnight shelter to unaccompanied youth experiencing Homelessness. Recently, as Chair of the Makiki/Lower Punchbowl/Tantalus Neighborhood Board I worked with my members to establish a Homelessness Committee.

    As State Senator, I would support:
  • Taking greater advantage of CMS’s 1115 waivers and CMMI grants to utilize Medicaid funds for supportive services around housing, which could save $300,000,000 in Medicaid spending per year.

  • Establishing more facilities and programs akin to Hawaiʻi Homeless Healthcare Hui (H4), which would expand access for the homeless individuals living with mental illness.

  • Ensuring rental assistance programs are available to help more individuals and families from losing their housing in the first place, especially during disasters such as the on-going Covid-19 pandemic.



  • Honoring our Kūpuna

    Our kūpuna are near and dear to my heart. My first job in high school was working at the Regency at Puakea, a retirement and assisted living facility on Kauaʻi. While I lost both of my grandmothers to Alzheimer’s disease before I was old enough to know either of them, I know the impact of the incredible loss on my family.

    That is why I was honored to have the opportunity to serve as the Public Policy and Advocacy Manager for the Alzheimer’s Association - Hawaiʻi. In this role, I spearheaded state and federal Alzheimer’s advocacy efforts in Hawaiʻi, led advocacy days, served on working groups, and collaborated with legislators and non-profit leaders.

    During my time I shepherded the passage of legislation establishing the Alzheimer’s and Related Dementia Coordinator position within the Executive Office on Aging and improved dementia training standards for first responders. Most importantly to me, I coached caregivers, family members affected by the disease, and even some living with dementia find their voice to advocate on their own behalf at hearings and meetings with legislators. To be a part of this organization when the Food and Drug Administration approved the first drug to treat Alzheimer’s disease was a humbling experience.

    As State Senator, I would support:

  • Action to adopt the recommendations of the Hawaii 2025: State Plan for Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias into law

  • Expanding the Kupuna Care and Kupuna Caregivers programs which support our elders and their working caregivers

  • Conducting a new study on public long-term care model as a first step towards ensuring all kūpuna have the resources to live with dignity