Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Nov. 8 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 Lei Ahu Isa, candidate for Office of Hawaiian Affairs at-large trustee. The other candidates for three seats include Brickwood Galuteria, Sam King, Chad Owens, Keoni Souza and John Waihee IV.

Go to Civil Beat’s Election Guide for general information, and check out other candidates on the General Election Ballot.

Candidate for Office of Hawaiian Affairs At-Large Trustee

Lei Ahu Isa
Party Nonpartisan
Age 69
Occupation Current OHA trustee/broker/adjunct professor
Residence Kakaako, Oahu

Community organizations/prior offices held

Ahahu'i Ka'ahumanu Royal Society; Kanu O Ka'aina Charter School; Pohai 'O Kamehameha; Halau Ka Leo O Laka I Ka Hikina O Ka La; Halau Keali'ika'apunihounua Ke'ena A'o Hula; Palama Settlement Trustee; YWCA Women's Leader Luncheon; UH homecoming committees; Chinese Chamber; Filipino Chamber; Hui Maka'ala, United Chinese Society.

1. What do you see as the most pressing problem facing Native Hawaiians, and what will you do about it?

Aloha mai kakou! Definitely Housing, then health, economic sustainability and education.

See/read OHA’s Strategic Plan: Mana i Mauli Ola.

2. 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?

A possible solution passed this legislative session with a task force for better management of the Mauna Kea.

3. Do you support the construction of the TMT atop Mauna Kea? Why or why not? Could a new management structure help to resolve long-standing disputes?

A’ole, not atop Mauna Kea with an aquifer beneath. Wai is precious! Wai is life! Pele’s sister, Poli’ahu, goddess of snow, lives on Mauna Kea. Although they were bitter enemies, Poli’ahu is still respected on Mauna a Wakea, the sacred mountain.

Do you want another “Red Hill” disaster on our Big Island?

4. What role should the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands play in reducing homelessness?

OHA ‘s mission is separate from that of DHHL, but we could collaborate. They could do a lot without having to abide by zoning, permits, etc.

5. Why do you think Hawaiians are disproportionately represented in our prisons and jails? What can be done about it?

The answer is obvious …

6. What are your views regarding Hawaiian self-determination?

As OHA approaches a culmination in 2022 of 43 years of effort and accomplishments, it is very important to review just what we have been trying to achieve and how we have been going about it.

For kupuna, this is one of the most important times in our lives. It is almost as if you have been climbing a mountain for many years, and now the peak is in sight. As stated in the Constitution, this will be a pathway to economic sustainability.

7. Is OHA getting its fair share of ceded-land revenues from the state?

A’ole, no, but hopefully the amount of funding it is now receiving has not come too late to help Native Hawaiians navigate this post Covid 19-era.

8. Is OHA fulfilling its mandate to serve the Hawaiian people?

Again, it is very important to review what OHA has been trying to achieve and how it has been going about it. But if we have broken the rules, done what is not pono, and have taken shortcuts, then we have only ourselves to blame.

The areas where OHA has prepared carefully will now become tremendously productive. If OHA tries to avoid its increased responsibilities, we might run the risk of losing everything. Completing our Financial Sustainability Plan gives us the ability to work on particularly exacting and detailed creative projects, including education, health and culture. The degree of stability achieved at this time will greatly help our beneficiaries have a solid core of assets into perpetuity.

OHA will survive only if we are able to satisfy the real needs of our people. The more real our objectives, the more OHA can help our beneficiaries by making benevolent choices. We need to share with everyone the new insights we are working on, and become a proselytizer for new ideas as we try to break others out of their rigid patterns of thinking.

OHA should be striving to improve conditions of all Native Hawaiians around us, to use our influence to help everyone concerned to grow with us. The Strategic Plan, Mana i Mauli Ola, should help.

9. Is Hawaii managing its tourism industry properly? What should be handled differently?

The Hawaii Tourism Authority has awarded the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement over $34 million, which can definitely help our island state.

Hawaii’s marketing as malama aina is sorely needed. Leaving Hawaii in a better place than when you arrived — tourists can appreciate this. Take care of her. Malama her!

10. The coronavirus pandemic has exposed numerous flaws in Hawaii’s structure and systems, from outdated technology to economic disparity. If you could take this moment to reinvent Hawaii, to build on what we’ve learned and create a better state, a better way of doing things, what would you do? Please share One Big Idea you have for Hawaii. Be innovative, but be specific.

Patience and perseverance carried us through. The Legislature finally approved the $64 million. We can now accomplish a great deal by transferring our energies to productive areas, mainly housing with plans for kupuna housing and revenue-generating properties.

So please ask yourself this question when voting for a trustee of a trust fund: Would you choose this person to be the fiduciary for your money? Will ethical, moral values play a part in your choice?

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