Keli‘i Akina, president of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, upset Office of Hawaiian Affairs veteran Haunani Apoliona for the OHA at large trustee seat in Tuesday’s General Election, according to final results released this morning.
Akina garnered 163,699 votes, or 37.4 percent, to Apoliona’s 156,158, or 35.7 percent, with the remaining 26.9 percent not voting, after the last 9,000-plus votes were counted early today.
Akina waged a spirited campaign against Apoliona, who has served continuously on the board since first being elected in 1996.
It was Akina’s second campaign for OHA and he recognized the challenge of taking on a well-known incumbent. “Name recognition is a huge advantage for any candidate who has it, but we’ve made use of all forms of media to build our own name recognition,” he told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser Tuesday night.
Akina was plaintiff in the lawsuit that wound up stopping the Na‘i Aupuni Hawaiian self-governance election, which he considered racially discriminatory. The institute he leads is devoted to individual liberty and limited government.
In the other OHA trustee race Tuesday, OHA Chairman Robert Lindsey defeated challenger Mililani Trask, 44.4 percent to 32.6 percent, according to final results.