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Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Nov. 6 General Election, 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 William Aila, a candidate for an at-large position on the Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board of Trustees. There are five other candidates, including Leina’ala Ahu Isa, Rowena Akana, Faye Hanohano, Brendon Lee and John Waihee IV.
1. Is OHA fulfilling its mandate to serve the Hawaiian people?
Yes and no. There are OHA beneficiaries who are benefitting from OHA’s spending, policies, and advocacy efforts. In that sense, it is working for the betterment of Native Hawaiians. OHA trustees need to demonstrate more civility, transparency and accountability.
2. What would you do to change how OHA is run?
First and foremost I would work with fellow trustees to be more civil to each other and to staff. Once trust and communication is restored then honest discussions can begin. Then consensus building can occur and solutions to Native Hawaiian issues will occur.
3. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing Native Hawaiians? What will you do about it?
One of the most pressing issues to Native Hawaiians is the failure of OHA to collect its fair share of ceded lands revenue. I would work with the governor and the Legislature to increase OHA’s fair share. Once a fair is obtained then OHA can fund education, native rights, economic development, and housing programs.
4. What are your views regarding Hawaiian independence?
I support those seeking independence through international efforts as the U.S Constitution does not have a mechanism to restore independence.
5. Is OHA getting its fair share of ceded-land revenues from the state?
See answer No. 3.
6. Why do you think Hawaiians are disproportionately represented in our prisons and jails? What can be done about it?
Like other races, some Hawaiians make bad choices. Contributing to this reality is the current educational system is not appealing to a significant percentage of Native Hawaiians. Dislocation from a place-based relationship to the land and ocean also disenfranchises Native Hawaiians. As an OHA trustee, I would seek to increase ceded land revenues and partner with others including Alii Trusts and nonprofits who educate Native Hawaiians in a way that is successful. These trusts and nonprofits are successful because of place-based curricula and programs.
7. Do you support the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope atop Mauna Kea?
I believe that TMT and Native Hawaiians can co-exist on Mauna Kea.
8. What role should the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands play in reducing homelessness?
A sufficiently funded Department of Hawaiian Home Lands could significantly increase opportunities for Hawaiians on the wait list. The Hawaiian Home Lands Act specifically defines its beneficiaries as those of not less than 50 percent. Any expenditure of DHHL funds spent on homeless Hawaiians that are not part of this definition would violate the act. Also violating the act would be any efforts to bypass the wait list by prioritizing homeless Hawaiians.
9. Do you support or oppose holding a state constitutional convention? Why or why not?
I have concerns with a constitutional convention and it potential to eliminate protections for Native Hawaiian traditional and customary practices, protections of unionized workers, and environmental protections. If voters were to vote for one, I would work to elect delegates who support these hard-fought gains.
10. What other important issue would you like to discuss here?
We must pay attention to Climate Change and its effects on the environment, Native Hawaiians, and all Hawaii residents.