Gov. David Ige is reappointing Jobie Masagatani as chairwoman of the Hawaiian Homes Commission, and will also reappoint William Aila, Jr. as deputy director to the Hawaiian Homes chairwoman, the governor’s office announced today.
Masagatani has been chairwoman of the commission and director of the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands since May 2012, when she was first appointed to that post by former Gov. Neil Abercrombie.
Masagatani previously served as special assistant to the chief executive officer at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA), and was also an assistant to the CEO of The Queen’s Health Systems, where her area of focus was Native Hawaiian health.
She also worked previously at DHHL as the deputy to the chairman from 1995 to 2002, and was previously a land investment analyst for Kamehameha Schools.
Aila has been DHHL’s deputy director since 2014, and is also a former Abercrombie cabinet member. Aila was an unsuccessful candidate for governor in 2006, and Abercrombie named him chairman of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources in 2010. Aila was also harbor agent for the Waianae Boat Harbor from 1987 to 2010.
Masagatani was sharply criticized during Ige’s first term after lawmakers learned HHL had produced no new housing units in fiscal year 2017, and closed out that fiscal year with $30 million in unspent federal housing funds.
Masagatani countered that the agency put its federal housing funds to good use paying for activities such as homeowner financing and infrastructure for homestead communities. At the time, more than 22,000 eligible beneficiaries were awaiting residential leases.
The federal Hawaiian Homes Commission Act of 1920 established a land trust of about 200,000 acres to benefit Native Hawaiians with at least 50 percent Hawaiian ancestry. Those lands can be leased for $1 per year to Hawaiians as home sites or for farming and ranching.
In announcing the HHL appointments, Ige said Masagatani and Aila are committed to completing and awarding 374 homestead lots in 2019 and 1,300 additional lots now in the pipeline that are to be developed over the next five years,
“This leadership team has made significant progress in awarding homesteads by embracing a combination of traditional lot development and pilot programs that provide alternatives such as rent-to-own projects and subsistence agricultural homesteads,” Ige said in a written statement today.
In other appointments, Ige announced Douglas G. Murdock will lead the Office of Enterprise Technology Services (ETS) as the state’s chief information officer.
Murdock previously served as Ige’s state comptroller and director of the Department of Accounting and General Services, and has also worked as vice president of administrative and fiscal affairs for the Hawaii Tourism Authority.
Ige also announced the appointment of Cathy Ross as first deputy at the state Department of Health. Ross was deputy director for administration in the Department of Public Safety during Gov. Ige’s first term.
The Ross and Murdock appointments are also subject to Senate confirmation.
Also announced today were four other appointments by DOH Director Bruce Anderson that are not subject to Senate confirmation. They include Keith Kawaoka as deputy director of the Department of Health for environmental health administration; Danette Wong Tomiyasu as deputy director of the DOH for health resources administration; and Edward Mersereau as deputy director of the DOH behavioral health administration.