Campaign 2000A Look At The Hot Races And Issues
WAILUKU -- The special election for the Maui Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee seat pits the first non-Hawaiian OHA trustee against the man he was appointed to replace, former trustee Lois Hao.
Maui trustee is biggest
spender in OHA election
OHA candidates get publicity
By Gary Kubota
Maui businessman Charles Ota has spent $50,000 so far in his run to keep the seat that Gov. Ben Cayetano appointed him to -- making him the biggest spender so far in the OHA election.
The bulk of his spending went to Lynne Waters Communications, a company run by the wife of interim OHA Chairman Clayton Hee.
The other candidates in the race have agreed to limit their campaign spending to under $1,000 and do not have to file campaign spending reports. Hao had not filed a report as of Oct. 31, but agreed to limit his spending to the voluntary limit of $20,033.
Hao, 65, who resigned with the other OHA board members on Sept. 8, believes opening OHA to non-Hawaiians could hurt efforts to help native Hawaiians.
"Fewer ethnic Hawaiians will have the opportunity to serve, and election of trustees will possibly convert OHA into just another state agency," Hao said.
Ota, 76, whose ancestors came from Japan five generations ago, said he thinks expanding the base of candidates and voters allows everyone to participate in helping Hawaiians.
"When the condition of Hawaiians is improved, we all benefit," he said.
Other candidates are Laki Kaahumanu, 48, senior pastor of Harvest Chapel Church; Genevieve Lehua Clubb, 63, president of a Hawaiian homestead community association in Waiehu; Sam Kalalau, 48, a county highway supervisor; Edward Pelekai, 57, a property tax consultant; Jimmy Rust, 54, a foreman with Goodfellow Brothers Inc.; and real estate agent Roger Grantham, 53, another non-Hawaiian candidate.
Ota and Hao are the only candidates who have served in elected government office and are considered the front-runners.
Hao, a former director of the Kula Community Federal Credit Union, served a total of nearly five terms as an OHA trustee, once as chairman, and retired as an administrator from Maui County in 1999.
Ota served two terms on the Maui County Council in the early 1980s and on the University of Hawaii's Board of Regents from 1964 to 1973.
Hao said he wants to protect the benefits of native Hawaiians who are entitled to 20 percent of all ceded lands and revenues derived from them, under the federal government's declaration of statehood.
Ota said the Office of Hawaiian Affairs has been "floundering for 22 years," and he feels he can help it with his business background.
Both Ota and Hao support the Akaka bill.
WAILUKU -- State Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee Colette Machado is running for her third term representing Molokai against a previous challenger, Samuel Kealoha Jr.
candidates dont support
Akaka bill as written
By Gary Kubota
Machado, 50, a businesswoman involved in the restoration of Molokai fish ponds, defeated the incumbent Kealoha in the 1996, after he had served two terms as trustee.
Machado, also a member of the state Kahoolawe Island Reserve Commission, said this election is "critical" because the new board will be facing unresolved issues arising from the state refusing to compensate Hawaiians adequately for the use of ceded lands.
She's also worried about protecting the $370 million being held in trust by OHA as a result of some ceded land payments from the state.
Kealoha, 52, a "house-husband" and "small farmer," said if elected, one of his priorities will be to make sure Hawaiians with 50 percent or more native blood receive benefits first, such as housing under the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act.
Both Kealoha and Machado say they don't support the Akaka bill as it is currently written.
The bill being reviewed by Congress attempts to obtain benefits for Hawaiians similar to those for American Indians.
Kealoha said the bill detracts from helping those native Hawaiians with 50 percent or more native blood and he's wary of Akaka's affiliation with the Democratic Party.
"The Democratic Party has done little for native Hawaiians," he said.
Machado said the Akaka bill is an attempt but not a solution, and to achieve "complete sovereignty," Hawaiians must eventually obtain international as well as federal recognition.