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Machado likely to avoid runoff for OHA seat

Jayna Omaye

Office of Hawaiian Affairs incumbent Colette Machado appeared to have garnered enough votes to retain her seat on the board of trustees, but Haunani Apoliona and Robert Lindsey will likely face challengers in a general election runoff.

With all but two precincts reporting, Mililani Trask had edged out current board chair Lindsey for his Hawaii island seat.

Trask, an attorney, maintained a lead throughout the night and had received 60,199 votes with ballots from just the two precincts not yet counted. Lindsey, a retired Kamehameha Schools Land Assets Division director on Hawaii island, had 57,230 votes. Bo Kahui, a Kailua-Kona resident, had received 19,101 votes.

Haunani Apoliona, who has served on the OHA board as an at-large trustee for 20 years, was maintaining a strong lead with 55,476 votes. Apoliona, former president and CEO of Alu Like, also served as the board’s chairwoman from 2000 t0 2010.

Apoliona, however, didn’t appear to have enough votes to avoid a runoff with Kelii Akina, president of Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. Akina, who ran for an at-large position two years ago, had received 28,758 votes with the two precincts still out.

Other candidates for the at-large seat in order of highest vote tally were Paul Mossman, Daniel Anthony, Leona Kalima, Kealii Makekau and Douglas Crum.

Machado, the Molokai incumbent, received 55,311 votes. The Kaunakakai resident has served on the OHA board for 20 years and previously was chairwoman for four years. Her challengers, Alapai Hanapi, had received 32,176 votes with two precincts out, and Jerry Flowers took 18,280 votes.

Once all votes are counted, if a candidate receives the majority of ballots cast in the primary election, excluding blank and over votes, the candidate will win outright. Machado appeared likely to avoid the runoff.

Dan Ahuna, the Kauai incumbent, ran unopposed and was elected at the close of candidate filing in June. Ahuna, a Kapaa resident, has served on the board for four years and is a teacher at Kauai High School.

OHA, a public agency that advocates for Native Hawaiians, is governed by nine trustees, four of which are at-large positions and five from each of the island districts — Oahu, Hawaii island, Maui, Molokai and Lanai, and Kauai and Niihau. All voters statewide are able to cast ballots in the OHA elections.

The election comes at a pivotal time as Native Hawaiians shape the course for self-determination.

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