Gubernatorial hopefuls John Carroll, left, and D.G. "Andy" Anderson appeared at a forum last night on Hawaiian issues.

hopefuls address
Hawaiian concerns

Ceded lands claims remain
a sticky issue among candidates

By Crystal Kua

The state's next governor must resolve the unsettled ceded lands negotiations with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and also should be personally involved in obtaining federal recognition for Hawaiians.

Those are the positions taken by Democratic candidates for governor at last night's forum on issues important to native Hawaiians.

Voters of Hawaiian ancestry are being seen as an important voting block in this year's gubernatorial race.

More than 60 people attended the forum by the Oahu Council of the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs, whose members believe that native Hawaiians currently face huge problems.

One of those issues include the stalled negotiations between the state and OHA over payment to the agency from revenues from public trust lands, which are former crown and government lands.

In September, the state Supreme Court struck down a law that defined the payments. One of the questions asked was how, as governor, the candidates would resolve the issue money due to OHA.

George Peabody held up a banner at last night's gubernatorial-candidate forum at the state Capitol, watched by fellow panelists Mazie Hirono, Ed Case, John Carroll and D.G. "Andy" Anderson.

"I think the negotiations will have to start over again. There'll be hard negotiations as there was this time," said D.G. "Andy" Anderson, a businessman and former state lawmaker. "I think it's an issue, though, that needs to be addressed and concluded. I don't think this issue can go on for another three, four, five years or passed onto the next governor."

State Rep. Ed Case said the past and future entitlements to the native Hawaiian community through OHA remain unresolved.

"I would restart and, if requested, personally participate in negotiations with OHA towards a fair resolution of these claims," Case said. "I say again tonight what I've always believed: that a resolution of the ceded land claims could well include the outright transfer of a fair portion of good revenue-producing ceded land."

Case also apologized to the group for not including the Hawaiian community in discussions when in 1998 as chairman of the House Hawaiian Affairs Committee he fashioned a bill that consolidated OHA and the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands under one agency, legislation that was defeated after sparking protests.

Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono said the governor and the Legislature are among those who need to be at the table to discuss ways of resolving the issues including the possible transfer of lands to OHA.

"However, underlying all these discussions though, is the specter of the lawsuits ... one of the remedies is to completely do away with OHA and this is why this is so important for us, the state and DHHL, OHA and intervenors to win those lawsuits," Hirono said. "We're going to fight it with everything we've got."

All three Democrats also supported the move to approve federal recognition similar to the stalled bill, named after U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, to protect native Hawaiian entitlements

"If we do not get this to the floor of the Senate," Hirono said, "then we need to create the environment for education, for continuing to educate them. As governor I would go to Washington, D.C., and meet with appropriate people."

Case also said his administration would "do everything possible to obtain federal recognition," adding, "As you believe it necessary and helpful, I will personally work with our congressional delegation and personally lobby in Washington D.C."

Anderson said partisan politics is holding up the bill, but he believes Hawaii's U.S. senators can get it through.

Also attending the forum was Libertarian George Peabody and Republican John Carroll. Republican gubernatorial front-runner Linda Lingle did not attend and some in the audience criticized her for not showing up.

State Office of Elections

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