The list of delegates running in a election this fall to establish a way forward for Native Hawaiian self-determination includes a lot of names that will be familiar to many people.
Among the candidates are Rowena Akana, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee; Dante Carpenter, the former chair of the Democratic Party of Hawaii; Faye Hanohano, who lost her re-election bid for a Big Island state House seat in 2014; University of Hawaii professor Lilikala Kameeleihiwa; activist Walter Ritte; and Dennis “Bumpy” Kanahele, a Hawaiian nationalist.
The candidates reflect a broad range of views on Hawaiian independence that could make for a spirited constitutional convention, or aha, next spring.
On Wednesday Election-America, the private national election company contracted by Nai Aupuni, released the names of the candidates, 209 total. Nai Aupuni is an independent organization funded by OHA to coordinate the election of delegates, which will be held throughout November.
There are 40 delegate positions, separated by region, to be voted on:
The delegates will be elected to represent Hawaiians living in the state as well as Hawaiians living outside the state.
In addition to the delegate candidates listed earlier, other familiar names include state Sen. Brickwood Galuteria, former state legislator Annelle Amaral, musician Teresa Bright, UH law professor Williamson Chang, former state homeless coordinator Colin Kippen, former OHA administrator Clyde Namuo, Hawaiian nationalist Poka Laenui and kumu Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu.
Votes will be cast by traditional mail or electronically by an estimated 95,000 qualified Native Hawaiians. Election results are due Dec. 1 and the aha process is set to be held on Oahu from next February to April.
The release of the list of candidates comes just one day after the U.S. Department of the Interior announced a framework for a “government-to-government relationship with Native Hawaiians. The Interior’s action has made some groups, such as OHA, happy and upset others who don’t feel like the U.S. government should be involved in self-determination.