Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Aug. 9 primary, Civil Beat asked candidates to answer some questions.

The following came from Carmen Hulu Lindsey, a candidate for the Maui seat on the Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board of Trustees. Also running is Mahealani Wendt.

Go to Civil Beat’s Elections Guide for general information, and check out other candidates on the Primary Election Ballot.

Name: Carmen Hulu Lindsey

Office: Maui Trustee, Office of Hawaiian Affairs

Profession: Realtor, singer, Community Leader

Education: Farrington High School; Cannon’s School of Business

Community organizations: Member, Ahahui Ka’ahumanu, Maui Chapter, 20 years; charter member, Maui Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce; member, Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts; member, President’s Advisory Committee on Civil Rights; member, National Association of Realtors; member, Realtors’ Association of Maui

Hulu Lindsey

Carmen Hulu Lindsey

1. Why are you running for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs?

What OHA does, and how it responds to its mission affects not just its beneficiaries, but everyone in Hawaii. My career as a land executive both for the state and in the private sector has given me an inside view at precisely where and how OHA’s work intersects with broad public interest. My years in land administration and permitting have equipped me to make an informed and meaningful contribution to OHA’s management of its land assets. OHA provides a way to channel that experience productively in ways that benefit everyone. Everywhere I travel across the islands I see people in need. I also see opportunities to make things better.

I am running for re-election to my seat because I believe I have made a difference in the past 2 ½ years that I have served as the Maui Trustee. Though relatively new to the Board, I have advocated on issues ranging from advancing Hawaii’s energy independence to protecting the livelihood of people in vulnerable communities such as Ni’ihau. I have demonstrated my genuine commitment to serving the interests of OHA beneficiaries without losing sight of what is good for all of Hawaii in the long term.

Recently, I was named chairperson of the new Land and Property Committee on the Board. I was asked to be the chair because of my 40 years in real estate, my experience with Maui Land and Pineapple as its properties administrator and service as the administrator of the county’s Land Use and Codes Department.

Soon after being sworn into office, I was approached by the chancellor of the University of Hawaii, Maui Campus, to look into acquiring the Palauea Cultural Preserve in Makena from developer Everett Dowling so that the Hawaiian Studies Department of the University could use those 20-plus acres of land as a living classroom. I am happy to say that on June 17 we blessed this cultural piece of property that was donated to OHA and in turn established a community partnership with the UH Hawaiian Studies Program for stewardship and for their educational use. This was a milestone achievement and reflective of what can be accomplished when people are brought together in a collaborative way to serve the public good.

2. What is your view regarding OHA’s efforts to build a Hawaiian nation?

As a Hawaiian and an OHA Trustee, I would support the will of the people to create a Hawaiian nation. I believe that OHA should facilitate the process of advancing consensus and not embark on nation-building independently. Should there be success in consensus building with our Lahui, then and only then can we as a people establish our Hawaiian nation. OHA’s function would be to provide the necessary resources and commit to work with our community stakeholders to create a criteria through a Constitutional Convention. Such a convention should draw delegates elected exclusively by all Hawaiians, not just those who have signed on to a state-created roll. It has to be the will of the people to come together. The bottom line is that OHA has an obligation to be inclusive with all of its stakeholders.

3. What is your view on the U.S. Department of the Interior’s proposed rule-making on a government-to-government relationship?

We achieve nothing without some degree of pragmatism and a realistic assessment of where we are today. I see value in the rulemaking as it protects our resources from any further assault, attack or erosion of our assets. I advocate for the fulfillment of the United States’ trust obligations to Hawaiians.

However I would not favor a rule-making process that would try to confine the Hawaiians within a legal framework (tribes, bands etc) designed for Native Americans.

4. OHA has focused on developing land holdings in order to raise revenue to help beneficiaries. Is this an appropriate avenue for OHA to pursue?

Not only is it appropriate for OHA to develop the land holdings entrusted to its stewardship, it is its obligation to do so. Everyone needs to understand how we got to where we are. On this as on so many issues, an understanding of history is critical.

The State of Hawai’i had owed OHA its 20 percent ceded land revenue for more than 30 years. After much negotiation, $200 million was agreed on as the figure for the back unpaid revenues. However, the state did not have the cash to pay OHA. Instead, ten parcels of land at Kakaako Makai were given to OHA as payment. (But at the time OHA did not have access to full information on what was being planned for Kewalo Basin in front of Fisherman’s Wharf. See final comment below.)

This was a pragmatic and reasoned decision. Under the trust law the Trustees have an obligation to grow the Trust for the benefit of our future generations.  OHA has a responsibility to optimize use of its land assets to derive the best possible return for the beneficiaries. To not do so would be a failure of responsibility.

5. OHA’s stated purpose is to provide “opportunity for a better life and future” for all Native Hawaiians. Is it doing that? And if not, what would you do about that?

Expanding opportunities for small businesses, improving  access to education and encouraging Native Hawaiians to use it to advance themselves, and managing resources carefully all contribute to long-term improvements in the quality of life. Addressing the disproportionate levels of poverty and illness among Native Hawaiians and helping them improve their economic standing with each generation will result in a better life and future, not just for Native Hawaiians but for all of Hawaii because we will be equipping people to be productive and contribute to the betterment of their communities.

I believe that in a difficult economic climate with daunting challenges and a multiplicity of views about every issue facing us, OHA is doing an outstanding job for its community. OHA has committed 50 percent of its annual income to invest in our community. OHA’s strategic priorities include culture, education, health, governance, land/water, economic self-sufficiency and sustainability.

But I also think that we can do better and do more for our people through smart partnerships and pragmatic collaborations with leaders within our community who are blazing new trails and exploring new avenues for growth that are consistent with our values and with what science teaches us. I think my business and community experience and expertise in land issues allow me to make a significant contribution to improving how OHA fulfils its purpose.

6. Is OHA doing enough to protect the environment, improve the health of Native Hawaiians and perpetuate the culture? What ideas would you bring to OHA?

We can always do more but let me just say that from what I have seen, OHA is steadfast in its efforts through a variety of channels to preserve and perpetuate our culture, people, land and environment.

Health: I believe that through its grants, OHA has assisted in increasing the percentage of Native Hawaiian families who are actively improving their quality of life and making better choices by engaging in health programs. Supportive family development practices have helped, including setting goals that will decrease the number of Native Hawaiians in state DOH substance abuse treatment from 45.9 to 39 percent by 2018. Another goal is to increase the number of Native Hawaiian mothers receiving prenatal care in the first trimester from 81.4 to 83.6 percent by 2018.  OHA has invested substantial Grant monies in health agencies with the hope of decreasing chronic disease rates and reducing the rate of obesity among Native Hawaiian from 49.3 to 35 percent by 2018.

• Culture: More than 50 percent of Native Hawaiians living in the State of Hawai‘i participate in cultural activities, including language. They interact with the ‘aina for cultural, spiritual, religious and subsistence. I believe OHA can do more to increase participation and engagement with different dimensions of our culture. As a performer and someone who has lived and breathed Hawaiian music all my life, I would like to see OHA doing more to advance Hawaiian arts and culture in our classrooms.

We must take a comprehensive approach to starting young, protecting the advances we have made in cultural recovery and renaissance while investing in efforts that will allow us to innovate and break new ground. We cannot afford to stagnate.

I support the continued cultural protection plans in development, cultural impact surveys and studies. I support Hawaiian language and immersion schools to promote and perpetuate Hawaiian language starting with keiki.

I also believe we do not draw enough on the wisdom of our kupuna. It’s important that our kupuna are in our schools teaching our keiki. Everyone wins with programs like that.

7. Are you satisfied with the way OHA has negotiated with the state over ceded-land revenues? 

My preference in settling the ceded lands revenues would start with renegotiations with the state to lift the cap placed on OHA’s legal 20 percent share.

I support a proper inventory of all ceded lands so that we can realize OHA’s true potential and value.

I would support OHA renegotiating with the state on the Kakaako settlement to secure land entitlements that ensure OHA’s $200 million settlement value.

8. What other important issue would you like to discuss here?

We have questions about transparency and good faith that I would like to see addressed.

After agreeing to the Kakaako settlement, the OHA Trustees were informed that there would be a redevelopment of the Kewalo Basin Harbor and two large finger piers would be built in front of the Fisherman’s Wharf parcel.

This was not disclosed during negotiations of the settlement. Access to the ocean is of fundamental importance to our Hawaiian culture and also fundamental to having a development on the waterfront. The issue of Kakaako is one about which the community has strong views. OHA needs to be attentive to what the community is saying. The state also needs to address the lack of full disclosure during the negotiation process and the partial information on which OHA acted when it agreed to the settlement.

There are unsettled questions that linger over the appraised value for the lands at Kakaako Makai without the build out of entitlements. The actual value of Kakaako Makai may be considerably less than the $200 million valuation stated in the state of Hawaii appraisal. The state of Hawaii appraisal was based on projected, not actual or “as is” land valuation. Without these entitlements in place, OHA is left with a fraction of promised value by the state of Hawaii. I am committed to adjust any shortcoming in valuation.