Why O'ahu Resident Trustee
by Kalei'āina Lee
During the opening session for the Democratic Party of Hawai'i Convention I heard congressman Kai Kahele speak of becoming the party of the people and disrupting the status quo of big money. Those are the principles this party needs to return to not become. When Hawai'i became a state 63 years ago, we were a republican state. Hawai'i politics were controlled by the Big 5 and other wealthy business owners. In fact, it was wealthy business owners that overthrew the Hawaiian Kingdom. It was not until the 1950s that our working class, whom had been organizing for years in the fields of sugar cane and pineapple, won the fight to become the majority in Hawai'i politics.
While the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) represents only roughly 10% of the Hawai'i’s population, its reach is far greater.
With the work I have accomplished over the last 4 years, reorganizing OHA’s governance model, updating the Board of Trustee’s by-laws for the first time in 13 years, moving the Native Hawaiian Trust into an endowment model to better leverage the fact that OHA is the 13th largest landowner in the state, and orchestrating OHA’s Iwilei land acquisition increasing OHA’s footprint within the Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) to address the critical need for affordable housing, I have been able to help OHA move forward while facing opposition from within OHA from those that would see OHA remain within that status quo.
With your help I will return to OHA and continue the work that needs to be done, but this time not as an At-Large Trustee, but as the O'ahu Trustee. It is time for O'ahu to have a Trustee that will take OHA out into the community as I did during the pandemic. I was the only Trustee to go door-to-door on the homesteads with Queenʻs Medical to check on our beneficiaries and answer any questions they may have regarding vaccines, medical help, or anything else they wanted to talk about.
Over the last 4 years there has not been a single community meeting on the island of O'ahu. I commit to having 6 community meetings a year, one in each moku on the island, Wai'anae, Waialua, Ko'olauloa, Ko'olaupoko, Kona and ʻEwa.
We need a Trustee willing to take OHA to the people and not use the excuse that the people can always come to OHA.