Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Aug. 8 Primary 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 Louis Pau, candidate for Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board of Trustees Hawaii island resident. Other candidates include Kauilani Almeida, Noelani Cashman-Aiu, Laura Desoto-McCollough, Louis Hao, Cyd Hoffeld, Pua Ishibashi, Lei Kihoi, Keola Lindsey, Lanakila Mangauil and Kalaniakea Wilson.
1. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing Native Hawaiians? What will you do about it?
There are many issues facing Native Hawaiians. Among the issues are financial stress, marginal health issues, tenuous housing situation and poor employment situations.
I plan to focus on the five E’s:
• Educate: Providing access to Hawaiians to prepare them well for productive, rewarding, and dignified careers.
• Enable: Enabling others to reach their full potential means working on the areas that require further attention and development – so that they will be able to rise to any occasion on their own.
• Excel: Setting milestones to achieve personal and professional goals. Teaching skills to organize, plan and prioritize.
• Exceed: Don’t just be average.
• Encourage: Be the mentor and encourage others to set goals, take the steps to achieve the goals, and complete the goals. Always moving forward.
2. What would you do to change how OHA is run?
• Develop transparency to avoid funneling funding to “connected people.”
• I would like OHA to operate more like a business. OHA needs to look at profits and losses and looking at prior history and looking forward to generating income.
• Become involved in increasing the revenue the trust obtains/generates.
• Making sure that the finances of the trust continue in perpetuity.
3. What would you do to bridge the gaps within the Native Hawaiian community over issues like construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope or development of energy projects?
Unfortunately, controversial issues are faced with the “not in my backyard” (NIMBY) phenomenon. These projects tend to be built in areas where there is poor voter turnout. If there is a larger percentage of the community showing up to vote, then these projects tend to move to areas where they are perceived as less having resistance.
Every problem has a solution. We all need to look for a “win-win” situation. This is part of negotiations that occurs throughout history and in every aspect of our lives. As emotions are raised in confrontational issues, level-headed thinking of finding common ground can lead to agreements. It may not be everything we wanted, but it is something that we can live with. We have to avoid the mentality that if someone does not agree with our beliefs, then they are against us.
4) Do you support the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope atop Mauna Kea? Why or why not?
TMT and Mauna Kea have been volatile issues. I support the construction of TMT on Mauna Kea.
Prior to 2020, the Hawaii island poverty rate was 17.4%. This recent COVID-19 crisis has crippled the tourist-dependent Hawaii economy and there has been a huge job loss, business closings, increased stress and life uncertainty. I support the creation of higher-paying jobs and employment stability with a diversified economic base.
What I don’t support is the mismanagement by the state in the management of Mauna Kea. Let’s look at feasible ways to improve income generation from Mauna Kea and utilize a portion of the funds to protect Mauna Kea for everyone.
I am open to renegotiating the current lease or increasing user fees. I want to operate Mauna Kea whereby a portion of the gross revenues are funneled into OHA, DHHL, Hawaii County, and the state.
5) Do you support OHA providing financial aid to Mauna Kea protesters?
I do not support OHA providing financial aid for the Mauna Kea gatherings.
6. What role should the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands play in reducing homelessness?
DHHL should start rescinding leases that have not been built upon in the last five years. Instead of having one residence per property, why not build micro quadplexes with two bedrooms and 1.5 baths on these properties and make it a condominium property regime. That way four Hawaiian families will have a home.
7. Why do you think Hawaiians are disproportionately represented in our prisons and jails? What can be done about it?
I think the percentage of Hawaiian incarcerated is based upon the rightfully perceived atrocities that left Hawaiians debased on their own islands. It started from the “Great Mahele” in 1848. This land ownership was a new concept for Hawaiians since everyone just used the land and shared the production of the land.
The Mahele law required land claims to be filed within two years under the Kuleana Act of 1850, and many Hawaiians made no claims. Thus Hawaiians who were the rightful owners of the land were evicted and most of it taken over by the “Big 5.”
I propose that Hawaiians accept this and use this experience as motivation to improve their current situation and redirect the downward trajectory affecting Hawaiians. This can be done with the five E’s (see question No. 1).
8) What are your views regarding Hawaiian self-determination?
Native Hawaiians should have a say in self-determination, but I don’t think that the logistics of land ownership and setting up a government will be seen in the next 50 years.
9. What other important issue would you like to discuss here?
Helen Keller should be an inspiration for everyone. Helen Keller became blind and deaf at 19 months after becoming sick. With much difficulty, she learned to communicate and later speak.
She became an author and helped establish treatment for blindness and deafness over the entire world. She lived a life devoted to helping others. Her faith, determination and spirit helped her to accomplish far more than many people expected.
• “When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us.” — Helen Keller;
• “Alone we can do so little, together, we can do so much.” — Helen Keller;
• “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” — Tony Robbins