Shirlene DelaCruz Ostrov, a military veteran and small business owner, is in the running to become the next chair of the Hawaii Republican Party.

“There has been a lot of news written about the Hawaii Republican Party becoming irrelevant,” she said. “I disagree. Yes, we are struggling to get our voices heard. But I am a businesswoman, and I am focused not on the good or bad but on this opportunity to rebuild the party and offer voters a real choice.”

Ostrov will face state Rep. Andria Tupola in an election Saturday at the GOP state convention on Kauai.

Chairman Fritz Rohlfing is not running for a second term.

Shirlene Ostrov Republican candidate. Running for Hawaii Chair. 8 may 2017
Shirlene Ostrov has thrown her hat into the race for the Hawaii GOP. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Ostrov’s political experience is limited. She lost to Democrat Colleen Hanabusa in a congressional race in November.

Ostrov believes her business background will be useful to a political party has been hampered financially for years. She is president and CEO of a logistics consulting company, Ares Mobility Solutions.

“Finances underpin everything the party does, and we are struggling,” she said.

Ostrov dismisses criticism from some quarters that Republicans are not open to diversity.

“Because I am a Filipino woman, I would not join a team that is sexist and racist,” she said. “I believe our party is fair, and I think there is room for women and minorities.”

If elected chair, Ostrov said she would bring on a new finance chair, Mark Blackburn, an entrepreneur who owns an arts and film small business, Rapa Corporation.

“I believe our party is fair, and I think there is room for women and minorities.” — Shirlene DelaCruz Ostrov

Ostrov spent 23 years in the Air Force and served in Afghanistan and Sudan. She received the Bronze Star and retired at the rank of colonel.

Like Tupola, Ostrov wants to get more Republicans elected to the Legislature, where Democrats outnumber them 71-5. She calls it a “tragedy” that Hawaii has no Republican in its four-member congressional delegation.

“With the GOP firmly in control of the House and Senate and White House, we need to have access to who is in charge of the national government,” she said. “But we also need to have a vibrant, two-party system in Hawaii. We need checks and balances.”

Ostrov has the support of Pat Saiki, a past party chairwoman, former congresswoman and legislator. Saiki is running for party vice chair for coordinated campaigns.

Others running for party positions with Ostrov are Lorraine Shin (vice chair for candidate recruitment and training), Jonathan Kunimura (vice chair for communications), Mele Songsong (vice chair for community service), Cheryl Sora (vice chair for coalitions), Jennifer Anderson (secretary) and Gwen Honjo (treasurer).

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