comscore 2020 Election: Pua Ishibashi | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Election

2020 Election: Pua Ishibashi

  • Pua Ishibashi
Name on ballot:

Pua Ishibashi

Running for:

OHA Hawaii Resident Trustee

Political party:

Aloha Aina Party

Campaign website:

puaishibashi.com

Current occupation:

DLNR Land Agent and multi business owner.

Age:

63

Previous job history:

OHA Land Manager for Hawaii Island and CEO of Black Koa Action Wear Brand and CEO of Kukulu Cultural Resources for Organizations.

Previous elected office, if any:

None

Please describe your qualifications to represent the people of Hawaii.

Summary Of Experience:
35-years – Corporate administration and management.
26-years – Member, Royal Order of Kamehameha.
10-years – Professional business consultation.
10-years – Strategic planning, team building, and project management.
7-years – Professional land management.
5-years – Co-Founder Aloha ʻĀina Party, establishing a State and Federally recognized political party.

Let’s Break it Down
(1) EDUCATION
(2) WORK EXPERIENCE
(3) ALOHA AINA POLITICAL PARTY
(4) COMMUNITY & CULTURE
(5) ROYAL ORDER OF KAMEHAMEHA
(6) FAITH
(7) THINGS THAT MATTER
(8) ʻOHANA

#1 EDUCATION (9 years of higher education)

JURIS DOCTOR DEGREE (J.D.) – Law, Gonzaga University School of Law, Washington

BACHELOR OF ARTS DEGREE (B.A.) – Business and Economics, University of Hawai‘i

ASSOCIATE OF SCIENCE DEGREE (A.S.) – Electricity, Hawai‘i Community Collage

#2 WORK EXPERIENCE (Last 10 years)

LAND AGENT – Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) – Current since 2018.

LAND MANAGER – Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) – Previous 5-years.

CEO – BLACK KOA CLOTHING BRAND – Established 2014, promo video below.

CEO – KŪKULU CULTURAL RESOURCES – Established 2009.

Note: As OHA’s land manager for the Island of Hawai‘i, I was responsible for over 90% of OHA’s land assets as the 13th largest land owner in Hawai‘i. This was not only a wonderful opportunity for me to learn and apply western best practices in land management, but to also learn and apply principles and practices of traditional Hawaiian land “stewardship”. My 5-years in land management along with 2-years on the Ke Kahu O Na Kumu Wai, (State of Hawai‘i Marine and Coastal Zone Advocacy Council) has provided me with a good working knowledge of mālama ʻāina (both land and sea). My tenure with OHA has also provided me with a good internal perspective of OHA, its strengths and weaknesses, and what and how to make improvements.

#3 ALOHA AINA POLITICAL PARTY (Last 5 years)

The Aloha ʻĀina Party (AAP), was founded by three Native Hawaiians, myself, Don Kaulia, and Desmon Haumea (members of the Royal Order of Kamehameha). The AAP adheres to and promotes traditional Hawaiian values such as living Aloha and being Pono. The essence of the AAP may be summarized by its Five Foundational Principles: (1) Recognize and acknowledge the Divine; (2) Aloha all people of Hawai‘i; (3) Mālama the ʻĀina as pono stewards; (4) Demand government Accountability and Transparency, and (5) Advocate for Ho‘oponopono, to “Make Right what is Wrong”, as it relates to the Overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawai‘i in 1893.

In this context, the AAP may be considered a Hawaiian political party. The first Hawaiian Political Party in 108 years. However, the AAP is not only for Hawaiians and is not limited to Hawaiian issues. The AAP is inclusive, welcomes all, and address the needs and concerns of all the people of Hawaiʻi.

It took over 5-years and 3-attempts to establish the AAP over daunting odds. In pressing forward, the Founders were inspired and empowered by the words of Queen Liliʻuokalani and James Kaulia who said “Never cease to act (to do good) because you fear you may fail,” and “Do not be afraid, be steadfast in Aloha for your land (and people).” The Founders were also strengthened in their belief that ke Akua was guiding and sustaining their efforts. That what they were creating, would be good, not only for the Hawaiian Community, but all the people of Hawaiʻi. Accordingly, the Founders refused to give up and continued to press forward until the AAP became a reality on Feb. 12, 2020.

#4 COMMUNITY and CULTURE (Last 10 years)

Member – Cultural Advisory Committee, U.S. Army, Pōhakuloa Training Area (PTA), (5-years).

Member – Kūpuna Cultural Council, Volcanoes National Park, (5-years).

Member – State Marine and Coastal Zone Advocacy Council, appointed by Governor Linda Lingle, (2-years).

Member – Royal Order of Kamehameha (26-years).

Founder – Annual Kamehameha Festival, established in 2008.

Event Coordinator – Annual Kamehameha Festival (7-years).

Member – Board of Directors, Puna Canoe Club (4-years).

Co-Founder – ‘Ahahui Ha‘akoa, (11-years).
Website at Haakoa.com.

Co-Founder – Aloha ʻĀina Political Party, (5-years in the making).
Website at AlohaAinaParty.com.

#5 ROYAL ORDER OF KAMEHAMEHA (26 years)

MEMBERSHIP – Active member of the Royal Order of Kamehameha since 1994 (26-years). In senior leadership positions for over 11-years).

OFFICES HELD:

Lani Ali‘i (Lifetime office as retired Ali‘i ‘Ai Moku )

Ali‘i ‘Ai Moku

Mamo Ali‘i

Kākā‘ōlelo

Lā‘au Ali‘i

Kaukau Ali‘i

ACCOMPLISHMENTS IN THE ORDER (Last 10 years):

Founder of the annual Kamehameha Festival, established in 2008.

Created the Māmalahoa and Kamehameha Festival websites in 2008 (mamalahoa.org) & (kamehamehafestival.com).

Grant writing and management (private, county, and state) for Māmalahoa since 2008, with grant awards totaling in excess of $250,000.00,

On being appointed Ali‘i ‘Aimoku of Māmalahoa (2009), grew Heiau from five active Brothers to 40 within one year. Also reestablished Nā Wāhine o Kamehameha, that was inactive for many years, from 0 to 6 active Sisters within one year.

Founder of the Māmalahoa Award, established in 2010. Award recognizes one kāne and wahine annually for exemplary work within the Hawaiian Community.

​​Chair of the Order’s Strategic Planning Committee (2014).

Authored Position Statement for the Order regarding Mauna Kea (2018).

Secured an OHA grant to fund the 2019 Ha‘akoa Conference, acting as event coordinator.

Created website and directed video to promote and perpetuate the Hawaiian Ha‘akoa, a practice endorsed by Māmalahoa. Website at Haakoa.com.

#6 FAITH

Nothing defines who I am more then my faith​ in God. I have been an active member of my church since the age of 8. Christian principles and values have guided and sustained me all of my life. I attribute my ability to show Aloha to everyone; find peace in chaos; be kind when others are not, forgive others when wronged; and to have a positive attitude and put things into perspective; to my faith in the Divine. I served a self financed mission to Chicago, Illinois, as an ordained minister, for two years. I have volunteered in many community service projects and served in many leadership capacities over the past 40+ years working with children, teens, and adults. Though I am a Christian, I embrace and support all people of all faiths including those who choose not to believe or worship. I will respect, support, and defend your right to worship, regardless of faith, whether Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, etc.

#7 THINGS THAT MATTER MOST

​The most important things in my life are my relationship with God; being a good husband, father and grandfather; doing what he can to help my neighbors and community; and practicing and perpetuating the Hawaiian culture.

#8 ʻOHANA

I am married to Gloria ʻAlohiwailani Duvauchelle of Kauai (KS 75). Together, we have six children, ʻAlohiwailani, Kailani, Kauai, Kanoe, Kiana and Kāhili, and thirteen grandchildren: Hania, Tehya, Teegan, Nyah, Kiyomi, Aiyana, Miya, Keahunui, Kekai, Lillee, Milah, Kahekau, and Kailani (named after her aunty who passed).

What will be your top priority if elected?

I have many goals and priorities for OHA, but before anything can be done, OHA must clean and put its house in order. In other words, its foundation must be made solid before we can rebuild a better and brighter OHA. The cleaning here refers to the two recent audits and ongoing investigations by the AG and FBI.

OHA is experiencing its worst fiasco it it’s 42-year history. The result of years of controversy, scandals, infighting, internal lawsuits, trustees vs CEO battles, and ethics violations. OHA’s reputation and public trust has continued to erode amidst recent financial audits exposing the gross mismanagement of millions of dollars and findings of fraud, waste, and abuse (Hawaii State Auditor Draft Audit Report No. 18-03 February 2018). A second independent audit reflected the same findings and concerns (CliffordLarsenAllen December 2019). In addition, OHA is currently under investigation by the State of Hawaii Department of the Attorney General and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) regarding allegations of “public corruption and misappropriation” of taxpayer and state funds (2020).Trust & Credibility.

As your Trustee, I will follow-up on these important audits. I will not discount audit findings, make excuses, or make empty promises of future changes. Instead, I will take audit findings at face value and embrace recommendations as opportunities to make improvements, implement needed policy, establish safeguards, and move forward better and stronger. In addition, I will advocate for regular ongoing audits as recommended by financial best practices.

As noted earlier, OHA is currently under investigation by the State Attorney General’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) regarding allegations of “public corruption and misappropriation” of taxpayer and state funds (2020).

As your Trustee, I will advocate for cooperation with investigations and provide whatever information and documentation that is requested. Trustees have a fiduciary duty to do what is in the best interest of the Hawaiian Community and to do so with transparency. If OHA has clean hands it should have nothing to hide or fear. In addition, should investigations discover any breach of fiduciary duties or illegal activity, those responsible must be held accountable to the full extent of the law. This process is extremely important to help restore OHA’s tarnished reputation and restore trust and credibility.

In addition, OHA trustees have a fiduciary duty to do what is in the very best interest of the Hawaiian Community and to do so with transparency and accountability

As your Trustee, I will hold Trustees accountable for their acts and non acts, ethically, professionally, and legally. I will also advocate for a decision making process that will include Hawaiian Community review and input at every relevant and important step of the process. A process that will be facilitated in a safe, nurturing, and transparent environment.

What is the most pressing need for the people you seek to represent and what can the Office of Hawaiian Affairs do to address that need?

There are many important issues impacting the Hawaiian Community today, but perhaps, non as pressing at affordable housing. Hawaii has the highest median home value in the nation at $619,000. Native Hawaiians, as an ethnic group, have the lowest home ownership rate among all other groups in Hawaii. Home ownership for the Hawaiian community is a dream, a dream that becomes more elusive every year as home values continue to soar.

As your trustee, I will look at all the options, from traditional government subsidies and political policy support to collaborating with government agencies, nonprofits, and other organizations to find affordable housing solutions for the Hawaiian community. Initiatives here will include:

(1) I will press for a memorandum of agreement between OHA and the Department of Hawiian Home Lands (DHHL) to address the 28,500 beneficiaries on the DHHL waiting list. OHA has the financial resources and DHHL has the land. This can be a win, win, win, for OHA, DHHL, and the Hawaiian community.

(2) There are many Hawaiians who have served in active duty in the military. Many are currently on the DHHL waiting list. Many of these veterans have the ability to qualify for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) home loans for Hawaiian Homes. I will work towards a collaboration between OHA, DHHL, and the VA, to get more Veterans on DHHL lands. This would be the first project of its kind between these three organizations. .

If we can start working together, be creative, think outside of the box, and get serious about solving this issue, solutions will be found, and more Hawaiians will get into homes.

What is one specific change you would like to see in OHA’s operations and what would you do to make it happen?

The Board of Trustees (BOT) inability to function as a cohesive unit is detrimental to OHA and the Hawaiian Community. Issues between the BOT and the Executive Administrative Team (EAT) has also been troubling. Friction within the BOT and between the BOT and EAT has a negative trickle down affect on the entire organization. Stress, mistrust, breakdown in communications, and deteriorating employee morale, will impact productivity and ultimately, negatively impact benefits to the Hawaiian Community.

For OHA to be all it can be to more fully benefit the Hawaiian Community, both the BOT and EAT must be pono (in balance and in harmony). This includes being unified in purpose, and committed to act in the best interest of the Hawaiian Community. In addition, these bodies must be willing and able to deal and interact with each other with mutual respect and aloha.

As a certified mediator, trained ho‘oponopono practitioner, and law school graduate trained in alternative dispute resolution, I have been building bridges of understanding and collaboration between individuals, organizations and communities for most of my life. I will use my knowledge, experience, skill sets, manner, and style, to help cultivate a more cohesive kinder, effective and efficient Board of Trustees that will work hand in hand with the EAT

Do you support or oppose the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on the Big Island and what should OHA’s role be in the process?


I believe the right to worship, or not, is one of the greatest fundamental human rights that we have. The people’s right to worship and practice must be respected and protected whether Christian; Jew, Buddhist; Hawaiian faith practitioner; or any other faith.This right is protected under the United States Constitution, First Amendment, Bill of Rights, that Government cannot deprive people of their Freedom of Religion .If practitioners of a faith believe Mauna Kea is sacred and that there should be limited/no development on Mauna Kea, I believe those beliefs should be respected and their ability to practice their faith protected.

I understand that TMT is a very complex issue with many interest and concerns including, economy, science, environment, culture, land ownership, procedural issues, broken promises, and mismanagement. However, I believe this issue turns on the U.S. Constitution, the 1st Amendment, and the Freedom of Religion, and for that reason, cannot support the development of TMT on Mauna Kea.

I believe only Hawaiian faith practitioners can determine the how, what, and when, of their faith and practice. I support continued dialogue between practitioners and supporters of TMT towards a mutually beneficial resolution if possible. As your Trustee, I would be happy to assist in such a process. In addition, I will promote a state law, similar to the Federal NHPA Section 106 review process. Such a law would require the State of Hawaii to deliberate with the Hawaiian Community regarding any act that my impact a significant cultural site such as Mauna Kea, before any action can be taken.

In the interim, I support the continued “mutual stand-down,” where TMT construction remains suspended and access to Mauna Kea remains open.

What is OHA’s role in easing the overrepresentation of Native Hawaiians in prisons?

Historical traumatic events have had devastating consequences on the Hawaiian community that continues to the present day. These events, beginning with the landing of Captain Cook in 1778, include, but are not limited to: Depopulation due to introduced diseases resulting in a population loss of 95 percent. The overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii resulting in the loss of political power, financial resources, social status, disenfranchisement from the land and culture, and marginalization by the new government. These acts, singularly and taken together form the basis of what psychologists refer to as historic and trans-generational trauma, a trauma that passes through generations.

Historic and trans-generational trauma has manifested itself in a variety of psychological ways within the Hawaiian community. However, it is most commonly seen through high rates of substance abuse, alcoholism, depression, anxiety, suicide, domestic violence and criminal activity. These conditions have resulted in the disproportionate representation of incarcerated Hawaiians.

I will promote the acknowledgement and understanding of this trauma and how it is impacting the Hawaiian community today. This is the critical first step in addressing the Hawaiian community’s disproportionate incarceration rate. We must look at and address the root causes and not simply focus on the symptoms.

Is there anything more that you would like voters to know about you?

I am running for CHANGE, to Reform and Optimize OHA. I believe together, we can make a difference.

As your Trustee, we will move forward with accountability and transparency. We will rehabilitate OHA’s tarnished reputation by restoring credibility and trust. Together, we will make OHA all it can be, to more fully benefit the Hawaiian Community and State of Hawaiʻi.

MY PROMISE TO YOU

Should I be honored to become your OHA Trustee, I will dedicate whatever resources are necessary in time, energy, mind, strength, and spirit. To the betterment of OHA, the Hawaiian Community, and the State of Hawaiʻi.

I will carry out my fiduciary duty with Accountability, Transparency, Integrity, Faith, and Aloha.

I do not play politics, I do not have a hidden agenda, no one pulls my strings. I am here for change, I am here to make a difference, I am here for You!”

​I humbly ask for your support and vote, so we can make this happen.

Mahalo nui

Pua


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