Office of Council Member Ashley L. Kierkiewicz
Aloha! Welcome to the official webpage for Council Member Ashley L. Kierkiewicz. Ashley is Hawai‘i Island born and raised. She was elected in 2018 to represent Council District 4, and is serving her first term. Ashley is focused on empowering community, leveraging public-private partnerships, and activating local economy so all residents can thrive.
Ashley chairs the Committee on Planning, and the Committee on Government Relations & Economic Development, and is the Hawai‘i County Council’s representative to the Hawai‘i State Association of Counties (HSAC).
Ashley has an open-door policy and takes a hands-on, boots-on-the-ground approach to her work on the Council. She is forming a Community Advisory Hui, made up of residents throughout District 4 as way to strengthen relationships with and between neighborhoods; the effort helps inform and drive policy decisions and solutions.
Rounding out the Council District 4 team are Chasity Quihano (Council Aide) and Cody Chapin (Legislative Assistant). The trio are humbled to be working directly with constituents to revitalize Puna, and our island, with vision and vitality.
To schedule a meeting with Council Member Kierkiewicz, please contact Chasity at Chasity.Quihano@hawaiicounty.gov or (808) 961-8026.
The 2018 eruption forever changed the Puna community and landscape. Council Member Kierkiewicz recognized Puna had incredible needs and challenges prior to the lava flow, but has always maintained a positive, resilient outlook, choosing to see opportunities to reimagine community and emerge stronger.
Ashley was one of two Council Members tasked with leading advocacy for lava recovery funds at the Hawai‘i State Legislature. She and Council Member Sue Lee Loy were instrumental in working with House and Senate leadership, their respective finance committees, as well as the Hawai‘i Island delegation to secure $60 million directly to the County to support Puna recovery.
The Council District 4 team spearheaded Activate Puna, a community revitalization and pono placemaking project that creates enriching and uplifting experiences. Between April and May 2019, we completed two large-scale murals in Lower Puna (Above & Beneath, and Puna Strong), hosted a community block party to celebrate Puna’s strength and resiliency one year after the start of the 2018 lava flow, and installed a HOPE FLAGS exhibit made up of 3,000+ flags illustrated by students and community from around Lower Puna.
Council District 4 accomplishments since taking office December 3, 2019:
- Bill 9 (Ord. 19-8) – $250,000 matching appropriation for economic recovery plan for Puna
- Bill 10 (Ord. 19-10) – Appropriated matching funds to FEMA dollars to support $32 million worth of future road recovery projects in Puna
- Bill 12 (Ord. 19-22) – Directed $170,355 in private donations to be used to provide immediate relief and positive impact to community including road support for lava locked kipuka residents
- Bill 36 (Ord. 19-52) – $20 million subsidy from Hawai`i State Legislature to support Puna recovery
- Bill 37 (Ord. 19-40) – $40 million loan from Hawai`i State Legislature to be used as matching funds for federal grants focused on Puna recovery
- Bill 79 (Ord. 19-84) – Directed $9,245 in private donations to purchase inter- and cross-governmental collaboration software that manages projects and tracks spending related to lava recovery
- Allocated funds and participated in efforts to beautify the entrance to Pahoa (roundabout medians)
- Reso. 103-19 – Created three temporary positions to implement the Disaster Case Management Program, which will provide long-term case management services to those impacted by the 2018 lava flow
- Reso. 143-19 – Worked with Mayor Harry Kim to proclaim every fourth Wednesday in April as International Denim Day, encouraging all citizens of Hawai`i County to wear jeans as a symbol of protest against the societal myths and destructive behaviors that perpetuate sexual violence
- Amended 2019-2020 Hawai`i County Operating & Capital Improvement Project Budgets to include:
- Funding to kick-start a Hawai`i County Whistleblower Program, including support for an independent third-party hotline, a conduit position in the Legislative Auditor’s Office to review calls coming into the hotline and make recommendations for next steps, and seed money to contract out for potential investigations
- Funding for Fire Department: $21,000 for revolving fund effort that upgrades apparatus and brush trucks as needed on an annual basis, and additional $13,000 (on top of $8,000 budget) to purchase equipment for fire stations island wide
- Increased Contingency Relief Funds for each Council Member by $30,000 (for a total of $60,000) but a successful amendment by Council Member Sue Lee Loy increased CRF for each district to $100,000
- CIP - $100,00 request to support infrastructure, equipment and project requests for County park facilities utilized by Puna residents
- CIP - $2.5 million request to support Phase I development (design, engineering, EIS work) for Hawaiian Paradise Park Regional Park
- Sent more than 300+ letters of encouragement and congratulations to students graduating from high schools throughout Lower Puna
- Reso. 209-19 - Co-introduced a resolution with Council Member Lee Loy calling for Bank of America to resolve its outstanding $150 million mortgage loan committment to the people of Hawaii after the Hawai`i Fair Lending Coalition found discriminatory lending practices against people of Native Hawaiian and Filipino ancestry.
- Reso. 212-19 - Introduced a resolution to recognize every second Tuesday of August or October as National Night Out, a nationwide community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie, with the goal of increasing public safety by improving crime, drug, and disaster preparedness awareness.
- Reso. 218-19 - Introduced a resolution strongly urging the Dept. of Land and Natural Resources to consult and working with Puna lawai`a, community members with familial and cultural ties to Puna, and the County of Hawai`i on planning and construction of a boat ramp in Puna.
- Reso. 219-19 - Introduced a resolution to establish a Hawai`i County Apiary Stakeholder Working Group to recommend updates to County ordinances to more accurately reflect local propagation and care of bees by backyard beekeepers and large-scale apiarists, to promote best management practices, and to encourage and foster the next generation of beekeepers.
- Reso. 271-19 - Authored and introduced the Interim Recovery Strategy for Hawai‘i County, which set foundational pieces for the recovery effort in place to foster a clear, objective decision-making process that defines how and when community and Council plug in, transparency around how monies are allocated, and project management and accountability.
- Reso. 431-20 - Introduced a measure directing the County of Hawai‘i to proactively and strategically address the island's growing housing crisis with urgency by developing a comprehensive housing plan, establishing a Housing Coalition, and formulating an Affordable Housing Fund. The measure also directs OHCD to submit copies of all 201H applications and provide quarterly updates to the Council.
- Reso. 432-20 - Introduced a measure urging the Administration to include funds for a comprehensive audit and analysis of the Zoning and Subdivision codes, which are outdated, difficult to navigate, and not aligned with how we want our communities to be including more walkable and mixed use. It's an important first step to an eventual rewrite of those codes.
- Reso. 487-20 - Co-introduced a measure strongly urging the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to refine its processes and procedures to keep Hawaiian beneficiaries in homes and in support of State legislation that provides beneficiaries access to financial tools to prevent foreclosures.
- Bill 146 - Relating to disaster relief funds, provides a legal mechanism and articulates the process as well as the criteria to spend recovery-related monies – such as the $20M from the State Legislature – in a transparent and accountable way. The process is similar to our Grants-in-Aid program, and will require applicants to tie their projects or service to overarching recovery efforts. The bill was heard by the Finance Committee on March 10, and forwarded to the Council with a positive recommendation (unanimous support)!
*March 18, 2020 — In light of the rapidly developing situation unfolding around the world and locally in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have currently put all processing of CRF applications on hold until further notice. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience that this may have caused; however, it is apparent these unfortunate circumstances are beyond our control. If your CRF resolution has already been passed by the Council and your request is already being processed of the County Departments, please reach out to your respective Department contact for any questions regarding the status of your funds.
Should we be able to maintain legislative operations at the County level during this global health emergency, remaining CRF funds may be reallocated by the administration or our office to address the most urgent needs of the community and our island. We appreciate your understanding during this difficult time.
For Fiscal Year 2019-2020, each Council Member has $100,000 to support community projects as well as help County agencies meet critical needs that weren’t allocated in the operating budget. Inspired by participatory budgeting and wanting to further collaborate with community to identify and address needs, Council District 4 will look to its Community Advisory Hui to help direct a portion of its CRF.
If you're interested in applying for Contingency Relief Funds, download our CRF Process Information Sheet; it includes a list of items needed to process your request. Please note that requests will only be considered once ALL required materials have been submitted. Contact Cody Chapin at (808) 961-8536 or firstname.lastname@example.org with CRF-related questions.
Article III of the Hawai`i County Charter notes “The legislative power of the county shall be vested in the county council. Its primary function shall be legislation and public policy formulation…” Council Member Kierkiewicz believes that developing good public policy takes time, thoughtful planning, and stakeholder engagement.
The Council District 4 Team is working on formulating meaningful legislation during the 2018-2020 term. Below is a list of some of our current legislative efforts.
- Finding ways to better align County budget with outcomes and existing plans such as the General Plan, Community Development Plans, Mass Transit Master Plan, etc. and shared frameworks such as CHANGE and Aloha+
- Comprehensive Recovery Plan and Economic Recovery Strategy to support long-term recovery of Puna and our island as a result of the 2018 eruption
- Working with the Administration to update the Hawai`i County Code, Chapter 7 (Civil Defense) to ensure a scalable framework is in place and trigger ready for future emergencies and natural disasters
- Working with Puna Neighborhood Watch groups and County departments to address the issue of squatters and abandoned/vacant homes and properties
- Working with the beekeeping industry and State/County partners to update the Hawai`i County Code to reflect what’s actually happening, to encourage best management practices, and nurture the next generation of beekeepers
- Developing creative financing solutions and updates to the Hawai`i County Code to support new/existing infrastructure in private subdivisions
- Supporting efforts of Vibrant Hawai`i as a lead ambassador for the public sector, helping to align public-private-social-community sectors within a collective action framework with the goal of reducing poverty and creating a vibrant, thriving Hawai`i Island
- Convening stakeholders around reducing children's exposure to ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) and investing in preventative health care and mental health wellness interventions
Beyond crafting sound policy, our office works on-the-ground and with community groups on a variety of engagement projects.
Looking forward to the next Activate Puna? So are we!
Taste of Puna "Smoke it Up": A curated culinary experience featuring local tastemakers to shine a light on the art of butchery and a beloved food preparation embedded in our island lifestyle- smoked meat. The event aims to elevate locally-sourced ingredients and spur conversations around our food systems and creating a value-added product economy. DUE TO COVID-19, POSTPONED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE...
Our team is actively involved in Vibrant Hawai'i Island, a community movement to uplift our island's families so they thrive. On Hawai'i Island, 61 percent of households (64,000!) are ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) or below the federal poverty level. In Puna, it's 78 percent of households - the highest in the state! Learn more. Get involved.
Join in on our collective efforts around positivity and empowerment! Email Ashley directly at Ashley.Kierkiewicz@hawaiicounty.gov to find out how you can support various projects and events. #activatepuna
Here’s a roundup of Council District 4 in the news.
- 7/2 WHT - Council resolution seeks Bank of America cooperation on DHHL loans
- 7/10 WHT - Bank of America, State in dispute over $150M loan
- 7/12 WHT - Preparing for the 2020 Census: Online forms available for first time
- 7/21 HTH - Restoration of Highway 132 continues on schedule
- 6/4 BIVN - Hawaii County Whistleblower Program Discussed
- 6/6 HTH - County Council Approves Budget
- 6/10 HNN - Work begins to clear hardened lava from critical road in lower Puna
- 6/17 HNN - FEMA wants some eruption evacuees to return disaster assistance funds
- 6/18 HTH - Committee to receive update on county’s disaster relief efforts
- 6/20 HTH - Council briefed on administration’s eruption recovery efforts
- 5/3 HTH - Zonta, County Officials Commemorate Denim Day
- 5/4 BIN - Finding a Silver Lining: One-year Kilauea Update
- 5/7 BIVN - Big Block Party Coming to Pahoa on Saturday, May 11
- 5/7 HPD - Pahoa Beautification Project
- 5/8 HTH - State DOT helps county Mass Transit recoup $6.9M in federal grants
- 5/8 HTH - Community Comes Together for Pahoa Roundabout Beautification
- 5/9 BIN - HPD Officers Honored for Fight Against Drunk, Drugged Driving
- 5/9 HTH - Activate Puna Block Party is Saturday
- 5/11 BIN - Puna Coalition Holds Meeting Full of Hope
- 5/12 HTH - Puna Residents Reflect on Eruption, Future During Block Party
- 5/22 BIVN - Whistle Blower Program Added to County Budget
- 5/23 BIVN - Council Votes to Increase Contingency Relief Funding
- 5/23 HTH - Council adds $545,000 from fund balance reserves to proposed budget
- 4/10 BIVN - Officials Give Highway 132 Lava Recovery Update
- 4/10 HTH - Panel Postpones Measure for Rezoning of Waimea Property
- 4/12 HTH - Council Approves Lava Disaster Aid Measures
- 4/16 BIVN - $60M Kilauea Disaster Relief Bill To Be Signed Today
- 4/19 HTH - Council Members Criticize Civil Defense for Lack of Communication During Disasters
- 4/20 BIVN - Civil Defense Communication Criticized
- 4/21 WHT - Mass Transit Mismanagement Could Hurt Entire State’s Federal Funding
- 4/28 HSA - Slow Recovery from Kilauea devastation underway, but sadness lingers
- 4/28 BIVN - Highway 132 Recovery Discussed At Council
- 4/29 HSA - Pahoa Businesses Still Struggle While Creating New Attractions
- 3/1 BIN - Hawaii Officials Present Lava Recovery Update
- 3/13 BIVN - Lava-Locked Residents Testify at County Council
- 3/13 HTH - Several Permits for County Official’s Residence in Pepeekeo Approved 23 Years Later
- 3/14 HTH - Council Members Push Administration For Specifics
- 3/15 WHT - Holiday Inn Waiting 5 Years for Sign Approval
- 3/21 BIVN - Highway 132 Restoration Funding Bill To Go Before Council
- 3/28 BIVN - Positions for Disaster Case Management
- 3/29 HTH - Lava Aid Up for Final Vote
- 2/5 BIVN - Puna Council Members Question Benefit of Tax Increase
- 2/6 KITV - Talks of Raising GET Continue on Hawaii Island
- 2/8 BIVN - Kilauea Disaster Recovery Bill Advances, Half County Ask
- 2/13 BIVN - After Eruption, Future Puna Development Questioned
- 2/17 HTH - Council Members File Financial Disclosures
- 2/18 WHT - Public Hearing Set for General Excise Tax Hike
- 2/20 WHT - County Prepares for Foam Food Container Ban
- 2/22 BIVN - Eruption Disaster Donations Accepted, Use Specified
- 2/24 BIVN - Eruption Recovery Panel Discussion Held in Pahoa
- 2/25 WHT - FEMA Aid Could Top $177 Million
- 2/27 BIVN - Q&A at Puna Eruption Recovery Meeting
- 1/3 BIN - ARDA Donates $2,500 to Puna Relief Fund (Hawaii Chapter of the American Resort Development Association)
- 1/9 BIVN - Council Gets Eruption Recovery Priority List As FEMA Funds Allocated
- 1/10 HTH - Council Approves 1st Reading of Bills Appropriating Federal Recovery Funds
- 1/10 HTH - New County Public Works Director Confirmed
- 1/20 HTH - Council Mulls Entering No-Risk Lawsuit Over Opioids
- 1/28 BIVN - Puna Eruption Donations To Get Council Approval
In an effort to keep calm amidst the disruption to our daily lives as a result of the novel coronavirus, we've curated a digest of resources to help our community prepare and respond in an informed and measured way. We are taking COVID-19 very seriously, and encourage you to stay informed to protect yourself, your family, and our community.
Hawai'i County has activated a community-wide task force dedicated to mitigating this virus. On Tuesday, March 11, 2020 Mayor Harry Kim and task force lead, Deputy Fire Chief Lance Uchida, briefed the County Council on ongoing initiatives. Watch the update courtesy of Big Island Video News.
The Administration has developed a page of resources to educate our community about coronavirus.
What is COVID-19? The World Health Organization (WHO) defines the virus here. It's now called a pandemic, which the CDC defines a pandemic as “an epidemic that has spread over several countries or continents, usually affecting a large number of people.” The Washington Post reports on why the WHO has made the declaration to urge countries to take urgent and aggressive action.
COVID-19 symptoms.Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed COVID-19 cases. The following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure:
- Cough and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Mild to severe respiratory illness
Who is most at risk? Epidemiologists—infectious
The New York Times published an article on Why Coronavirus is a Special Risk to Half of Americans that is worth a read.
Also, article via The Atlantic paints a very somber picture of The Extraordinary Decisions Facing Italian Doctors that really puts the seriousness of this virus into perspective.
We need to mitigate risk. What epidemiologists fear most is the health care system becoming overwhelmed by a sudden explosion of illness that requires more people to be hospitalized than it can handle. A disastrous inundation of hospitals can likely be averted with protective measures we’re now seeing more of—closing schools, canceling mass gatherings, working from home, self-quarantine, self-isolation, avoiding crowds—to keep the virus from spreading fast. Epidemiologists call this strategy of preventing a huge spike in cases “flattening the curve.”
Check out this article by Vox - How Cancelled Events and Self-Quarantines Save Lives, in One Chart.
Infectious disease specialist Dr. Daniel Griffin explains why concerts are dangerous right now - and why COVID-19 is of grave concern in general via Rolling Stone.
The 2020 Merrie Monarch Festival is cancelled. MMF President Luana Kawelu, stated "we could not risk the health and well-being of our community, halau participants, vendors and the thousands of people who attend Merrie Monarch every year.”
Here are some basic mitigation measures in light of COVID-19:
- Have a 14-day supply of food, water, medications and cleaning supplies for you and your family in case you need to self-quarantine (but don’t hoard or go overboard)
- Social distancing; avoid large crowds. What does this mean? Here are the Dos and Don'ts via The Atlantic.
- Limit your movement in the community
- Create a household plan of action in case of illness or disruption of daily activities
- Establish ways to communicate with others (e.g., family, friends, co-workers, health care providers)
- Arrange to telework (if possible), and plan for the possibility of school closures and cancelled events/activities
- Know about emergency operations plans for schools and workplaces of household members. As of March 12, the University of Hawai'i is taking all classes online through April 15. Hawai'i public schools have announced no cancellations, but said they are putting a plan together in case students are asked to stay home.
List of COVID-19 myths, busted via The Guardian.
Protect yourself and keep everyone around you safe. The CDC has a detailed list of steps to prevent illness that we've tightened and listed below.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. Don't have soap and water? Use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home if you're sick.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes.
- Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
Take note of this important message from Hilo Medical Center regarding COVID-19: Preventing Infection and Protecting Patients & Staff.
Per the Hawai'i Department of Health, if you become ill with a fever (100.4°F/38°C or higher) or cough, and have recently left an area having widespread community transmission of COVID-19 or have had prolonged close contact with a person confirmed to have COVID-19:
- Don't wait, isolate! Stay home. Avoid contact with others. Contact your primary care physician immediately.
- If you don't have a doctor, call the Department of Health for advice on how to proceed (808) 586-4586.
Page Published March 12, 2020. Check back for more updates!