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Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Aug. 11 primary, Civil Beat asked candidates to answer some questions about where they stand on various issues and what their priorities will be if elected.
The following came from Landen Paikai, a candidate for an at-large position on the Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board of Trustees. There are 15 candidates for three positions. The others are Leina’ala Ahu Isa, William Aila, Rowena Noelani Akana, Alvin Akina, C. Kaui Amsterdam, Faye Hanohano, Brendon Kalei’aina Lee, Keali’i Makekau, Makana Paris, Pohai Ryan, John Waihee IV, Marcus Bruce Kalai Pa’aluhi Sr., Kali Puuohau and Eleanor Sharsh-Davis.
1. Is OHA fulfilling its mandate to serve the Hawaiian people?
In a nutshell, yes. OHA, while mired in controversy, continues to fulfill its mandate to serve, empower and strengthen the Hawaiian community through advocacy, community outreach, grants, loans and in collaboration with ali’i trusts, state and county agencies and public and private partnerships.
2. What would you do to change how OHA is run?
As a trustee, my No. 1 priority is to connect our Hawaiian beneficiaries to the resources they desperately need and deserve by creating Accountable, Collaborative, Transparent and Innovative Opportunities Now (ACTION). One way to make this happen is to work alongside my fellow trustees to empower and support the administration with the vision, direction and foresight they need to implement innovative strategies that will effectively, efficiently and sustainably address the needs of our Hawaiian beneficiaries.
3. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing Native Hawaiians? What will you do about it?
Affordable housing is the most pressing issue facing not only Native Hawaiians but every other people group here in Hawaii. Affordable housing across the state will alleviate a lot of the problems we see in our communities. To address the issue in regards to Native Hawaiians, it is imperative that the trustees collectively work together to press the issue with DHHL as OHA provides $3 million yearly toward affordable housing infrastructure. Another issue that I will work to address is providing affordable housing/rentals to beneficiaries outside of the DHHL, by working collaboratively with ali’i trusts, government agencies and public and private partnerships.
4. What are your views regarding Hawaiian independence?
Personally, I agree that Hawaii is illegally occupied and that it is the right of the people to pursue self determination in the form that appeals to the general consensus.
5. Is OHA getting its fair share of ceded-land revenues from the state?
OHA is not getting its fair share of the ceded-land revenues from the state.
6. Why do you think Hawaiians are disproportionately represented in our prisons and jails? What can be done about it?
Lack of affordable housing, lack of cultural identity, lack of self reliance, lack of self capacities, educational stereotyping and stigmas, ease of access to unhealthy and destructive habits, generational and cultural trauma all play a role in the disproportionate representation of Hawaiians in prison and jail. Many “offenders” have one or more of these things in common.
Providing affordable and stable environments, linking youth and adults to unbiased educational and cultural opportunities and presenting healthy and constructive life skills can alleviate many of these problems that lead to incarceration and increase their chances of becoming productive citizens.
7. Do you support the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope atop Mauna Kea?
Until key issues are addressed (i.e. management, authority, removal of decommissioned telescopes, fulfilling contractual obligations, etc.), the answer is a resounding no.
8. What role should the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands play in reducing homelessness?
The truth of the matter is, the people that need housing the most are the very ones that cannot afford it, so DHHL along with the state and county need to collaborate to find innovative ways to address the issue of reducing homelessness by providing affordable options for everyone, including our homeless population.
9. Do you support or oppose holding a state constitutional convention? Why or why not?
I don’t have a particular stance on holding a state constitutional convention but I’m open to hear more about the pros and cons of a constitutional convention.
10. What other important issue would you like to discuss here?
Our Hawaiian community deserves better leadership at the board table. We have a great opportunity to shake up the board room with the potential influx of five new trustees. The decision lies in the hands of voters. Vote akamai!