OHA trustee-elect TraskBy Pat Omandam
calls for new chairperson
A. Frenchy DeSoto and Clayton Hee should step aside and allow another trustee to serve as chairperson when the Office of Hawaiian Affairs board reorganizes within the next month, said trustee-elect Mililani Trask.
As top vote-getter in the OHA elections, Trask last night said Hawaiians recognize the pair's leadership abilities -- but do not want the factionalism that has divided the board.
"I hope that both of them will support the election of a new leader among OHA trustees that will be able to do what they have not been able to do, which is bring about a solidified, more unified board," Trask said.
Although Trask won the most votes, she does not necessarily believe she should head OHA. "The chair will be the person that the majority of trustees can support," Trask said.
"And I will support that effort," she said.
Hawaiian voters yesterday re-elected trustees DeSoto, Hee and Rowena Akana by overwhelming numbers while adding Trask and former OHA trustee Louis Hao to the nine-member board.
In the OHA at-large race for three seats, Trask received some 27,840 votes, the most any OHA candidate has received since 1988. She was followed by Akana, then current board chairwoman DeSoto.
Trask, governor of the sovereignty group Ka Lahui Hawaii, said she will continue her part-time job as executive director of the Gibson Foundation in Hilo but will forgo her salary of $33,600 to avoid any conflict of interest.
OHA trustees earn $32,000 a year.
In the Oahu trustee race, incumbent Hee beat out former trustee Kina'u Boyd Kamali'i.
On Maui, challenger Hao beat out appointed interim trustee Herbert Campos. Hao last night said he stressed unity in his election campaign and will work with other trustees toward that goal.
"I hate to see any kind of division because those other trustees, in two years they're going to have to run, too," he said.
Hao said he will slowly phase out his executive assistant position in the Maui County managing director's office, where he earns $72,000 a year.
DeSoto, after hearing the final OHA results, said it was too early to tell what the board leadership would look like with Trask and Hao on board.
DeSoto said an organizational meeting has been set for Nov. 24. An investiture for trustees has been tentatively set for Dec. 3.
Trustee Hannah Springer, who is part of the current board majority, said the new OHA trustees should not view themselves as either part of the "old guard" of sitting trustees or the "new guard," but as a single unit representing the Hawaiian people.
"I don't ascribe to the political parties that has evolved in the office," Springer said.
"I vote on the merits of the actions rather than the makers of them," she said.
Among the top issues facing the new board are the current negotiations over past-due revenue from ceded lands and discussion on a native Hawaiian master plan. OHA currently receives $15.1 million a year in state general funds and has an investment portfolio of $287.4 million.