Government Needs To Get Local Youths Involved


Rep’n Mililani…Rep. Beth Fukumoto

Young people everywhere are disengaging from government because they see politicians and government as more focused on partisan politics than on working toward constructive solutions. But as a young legislator, I know that many of my peers have a lot to contribute, and that government would greatly benefit from their ideas.

One of my biggest priorities is to make government more accessible and responsive to the people it serves. To do so, it must be open to fresh perspectives.

Last month, I co-founded the Hawaii Future Caucus, a bipartisan group of state and county leaders. Our mission is to improve government transparency and better engage the public, particularly young people, in the political process.

It’s no surprise that there is a great need for this kind of collaboration. A 2013 Harvard study found that 47 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds agreed that “politics today are no longer able to meet the challenges our country is facing.” Only 16 percent disagreed. Voter turnout among the same age group dropped from 51 percent to 45 percent between the last two national elections.

In today’s political climate, it’s easy to forget that common ground is achievable. Members of the caucus bring diverse and often conflicting points of view, but we all recognize the importance of working together to address problems related to government openness and accessibility.

As part of this mission, I also am working with the Millennial Action Project (MAP), a national nonprofit organization that helps young leaders create a constructive political environment in their communities by challenging the existing partisan dynamic through post-partisan collaboration.

I have the honor this year to be participating in MAP’s James Madison Fellowship program, where I’ll be able to exchange ideas and work with young leaders across the country.

To make the greatest impact, the caucus also will partner with experts from the private and nonprofit sectors. This advisory council will bring diverse perspectives to the discussions and legislative hearings at the state Legislature and county councils.

As a co-chair of the Hawaii Future Caucus, I look forward to facilitating policy discussions and helping to advance common sense legislation.

In January, the caucus will introduce its legislative package, which will address specific ways to increase government transparency and voter participation.

There are many other issues that we’re working to address, like rising utility costs, the quality of our infrastructure and facilities, health care concerns, support for schools, and job creation.

I believe increasing government transparency and voter participation only will lead to better solutions for all these issues and help to ensure that government decisions reflect the will of the people whom our government exists to serve.

For more details or to get involved, call me at 586-9460 or email