In a recent national poll, the YWCA asked female voters what issues are on their minds ahead of the 2020 election.
Women played a deciding role in many of the 2018 midterm elections around the country, and they’re expected to have a similar impact in 2020. According to YWCA USA CEO Alejandra Castillo, respondents to her organization’s poll are energized.
“There’s an overwhelming enthusiasm towards this election,” Castillo said.
Among the wide array of issues respondents reported being concerned about are work place issues like paid family leave and anti-harassment policies. Access to mental health services, particularly in schools, and addressing gun violence were also topline concerns across different racial and age groups.
How does that compare to the concerns of Hawaii voters? Linda Ichiyama from Salt Lake, who represents Salt Lake in the state House of Representatives and co-convener of the Women’s Legislative Caucus, says she mostly hears concerns about everyday issues.
“Public safety is one that I’m hearing about now. I think people are concerned about the news of violent crime,” Ichiyama told HPR.
The YWCA poll found violence against women was a major issue across the country. Ichiyama said that issue remains a concern for her caucus, particularly the backlog of domestic violence cases in state district and family courts.
"Unfortunately, there’s a real backlog of cases on domestic violence issues. So we wanted to see if there’s a way to help decrease the backlog and create more consequences for batterers,” Ichiyama said.
Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders taking the YWCA poll reported they were particularly concerned about how to care for aging family members. Those groups make up at least 48 percent of Hawaii’s population, according to the Census Bureau.
Honolulu Representative and House Majority Leader Della Au Belatti says Hawaii has been on the forefront of that family issue.
“That interest of elder care is very important [and] again Hawaii has been leading the way in our programs like kupuna care and Kupuna Caregivers,” she told HPR.
The Legislature created the Kupuna Caregivers in 2017. It currently offers funds to eligible caregivers up to $210 per week to offset the cost of services. This year, lawmakers approved $10 million to fund Kupuna Caregivers for the next two years.
However, the issue top of mind for many local residents and officials appears to cut across all genders. Au Bellati said what she hears about most frequently, from both men and women, is how to make Hawaii an affordable place to live.
Read the full results of the YWCA poll here: