How These Local Youth Aim To Turn The Political System - Honolulu Civil Beat


About the Authors

Anna Chua

Anna Chua is an undergraduate student at the University of Hawaii Manoa.

Lucy Fagan

Lucy Fagan is a student at Myron B. Thompson Academy.

Erin Enriques

Erin Enriques is an undergraduate student at American University.

Eric Jonah Lorica

Eric Jonah Lorica is an undergraduate student at the University of Hawaii Manoa.


As local youth, these last few months have brought more uncertainty than we’ve experienced in our lives. We now, however, have also seen youth voices amplified in a way previously unknown.

Activism has spread to many different platforms; for example, TikTok has grown beyond a place for dance challenges to become a powerful tool to organize and educate people. While we switched from in person meet-ups to logging onto Zoom, we were able to mobilize more than ever before.

Each of us have our own personal stories of how we became involved in activism, but it was not until the Community Change Forums in April 2020, that we were able to put our minds and passions together. The Community Change Forums — a collaborative effort by local organizations Sierra Club Oahu Group, HawaiiKidsCAN, HART’s Sustainable Mobility Lab, the Aikea Movement, and the Hawaii Youth Climate Coalition — were created in order to gain perspective on what the public, especially the youth, care about.

In particular, how do youth envision a sustainable, resilient, and just post-COVID-19 world that is better than what was before?

A screen shot from the page on Honolulu mayoral candidates at Hoouli.org.

With the support of our adult advocacy team, we partnered youth from each City Council District up for election with a neighboring district and organized Zoom forums, giving local youth — a group often left out of the political sphere — a space for their voices to be heard and process these tumultuous times together. Students from seventh grade to college came together from across diverse communities to speak out and share their visions.

Our plan? To huli the system: to turn, change, affect, overturn, convert, and reform.

Helping Gen Z, Millennials

This election season holds a new, but much needed, value in many of our hearts. With a global crisis on our hands, we are forced to find tangible solutions for the longstanding problems in Hawaii plaguing communities that have long been marginalized by the government and our capitalist-driven sociopolitical climate.

With persistently low youth voter turnout, we wanted to help push our Generation Z and Millennial peers to fill out their ballots and stand behind the issues they see in their communities.

Guided by the issues raised by youth in the forums, and finding that information on candidates can be tedious to find, we created a digital youth-led voter resource based on the issues discussed in the forums. Our goal was to create a website, similar to Ballotpedia and Wikipedia, that is a living document that compiles information on local political candidates and their stances on some of the many issues we care most about, including sustainability, systemic racism, civic engagement and education.

We ask that you will grow with us and will help us be heard.

Through ample collaboration with a group of youth over a weekend virtual “research-a-thon,” we did just that. Hoohuli.org was born out of many Zoom hours, long nights, and dedication — all with the collective tenacity to engage communities at large in this crucial election and the consequential changes that come with it.

The hope is that our work will help make voting easier, more exciting, and grounded in the priorities of local youth. Not only does this collaborative site allow you, the user, to contribute through feedback and submission of quotes, but it also provides resources for you to take a step further in educating yourself, staying informed, and inciting change within your communities.

Politics can often be daunting and dividing but we strive to take the partisan line and spin out of it and unite people behind issues and values, not parties.

As we continue our mission to uplift youth voices, we hope Hoohuli will be a living document that empowers others and helps bring people together beyond electoral politics to demand systemic, transformative change.

As an evolving youth advocacy initiative, the Hoohuli voter guide also functions as a framework of accountability once soon-to-be representatives take office.

In times of hardship, we must build community and learn to grow together. We ask that you will grow with us and will help us be heard. The world is loud but the youth voice cannot afford to be drowned out any longer.

Community Voices aims to encourage broad discussion on many topics of community interest. It’s kind of a cross between Letters to the Editor and op-eds. This is your space to talk about important issues or interesting people who are making a difference in our world. Column lengths should be no more than 800 words and we need a photo of the author and a bio. We welcome video commentary and other multimedia formats. Send to news@civilbeat.org. The opinions and information expressed in Community Voices are solely those of the authors and not Civil Beat.


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About the Authors

Anna Chua

Anna Chua is an undergraduate student at the University of Hawaii Manoa.

Lucy Fagan

Lucy Fagan is a student at Myron B. Thompson Academy.

Erin Enriques

Erin Enriques is an undergraduate student at American University.

Eric Jonah Lorica

Eric Jonah Lorica is an undergraduate student at the University of Hawaii Manoa.


Latest Comments (0)

I'm disappointed that they did not include all the candidates for the various offices, nor was there any mention of animal issues which often loom large in certain elections.  And yes, some of it is a bit dated and doesn't allow for candidates to flip flop/evolve on the issues.  But it is a work in progress, so perhaps each year it will improve.  I am glad to see the effort made and commend them for it.

Frank_DeGiacomo · 1 month ago

I took a quick look at this website’s voter guide and it’s very unsettling that these young people took candidate’s answers from several years ago. The problem I have with this is that new candidate’s didn’t have the opportunity to state their position on certain issues that these students have deemed as important. Case in point: District 3’s Esther Kiaaina is quoted from a Civil Beat article from two years ago Presumably when she ran for office and failed. Kalima and Theilen (Newcomers) has "pending response" . I think this is a little unfair for the newcomers. I wish these youth had also pointed out who recently moved into a district to run for office. Yes, Esther Kiaaina did that. To me, that speaks volumes about political ambition and community.

kbaybaby · 1 month ago

I am highly impressed. Good work, kids!

Chiquita · 1 month ago

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