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Ex-schools chief considering
run for OHA trustee

By Pat Omandam

Paul LeMahieu, former state schools superintendent, may enter this fall's general election as a candidate for trustee at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

And trustee Charles Ota, the only non-Hawaiian person ever appointed or elected to OHA, said he believes now that only Hawaiians should serve as trustees.

"OHA trustees should be of Hawaiian ancestry," Ota said yesterday.

Five of nine board seats are up for election this November. The filing deadline is Tuesday.

Two years ago, there were 96 candidates for all nine OHA seats. This year, only 19 people so far have taken out nomination papers to run for the five seats, which are the Oahu and Maui districts, and the three statewide at-large seats, which the top three candidates in the race take.

LeMahieu, who resigned last October as superintendent after a legislative committee investigated his relationship with a service provider under the Felix consent decree, has taken out nomination papers for both the at-large and Oahu seats.

He said yesterday a number of people over the past few months have encouraged him to run for the $32,000-a-year trustee seat.

LeMahieu, who also took out papers to run for the Board of Education, hasn't made a decision yet what he will do.

"I'm wrestling with it as to whether or not it's the right thing to do for me and for Hawaiians," he said.

LeMahieu explained he is firmly convinced that within four years, OHA will not exist because one of two things will happen: The agency will either be transformed into some sort of federally recognized native government, or it will be dismantled because of the legal challenges of race discrimination being brought upon it.

As trustee, LeMahieu would create a "convening force" to get people together to talk about what the agency should become, he said.

"The reason to be on OHA is to figure out what replaces it," he said.

Meanwhile, retired Maui judge Boyd Mossman officially became a candidate this week for Ota's Maui seat.

Mossman, who served for 15 years as a Maui Circuit Court judge before retiring in 1999, said he was persuaded to run after he read repeatedly about the numerous lawsuits taken against OHA.

Now a self-employed arbitrator and mediator for Judicial Services Hawaii, Mossman feels he has put in sufficient time in the community to warrant his involvement in the future of Hawaiians.

If elected, he hopes to bring a calming influence to the board and to use his skills to help preserve native rights and entitlements.

The other four trustees whose seats are up for election this year are Rowena Akana, John Waihee IV, Oz Stender and Clayton Hee.

Akana is the only candidate so far to file for re-election. Waihee is expected to do so, while Stender says he wants to see who else will join the race before he tosses in his hat.

Hee announced this week his candidacy as a Democrat for lieutenant governor.

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