Office of Hawaiian Affairs advocacy director Keola Lindsey and activist Lanakila Mangauil will face off in the Nov. 3 general election for the Hawaii island seat on the OHA Board of Trustees as the top two vote-getters in a crowded primary race.
The incumbent Robert Lindsey Jr. stepped away from office and 11 candidates vied to replace him.
Lindsey, 44, was a Onipa‘a Mahia‘i farm owner from 1999 to 2002 and has taken a neutral stance on the controversial Thirty Meter Telescope project on Mauna Kea.
By contrast, Lanakila Mangauil helped lead protests against construction of the telescope. He also works as a Hawaiian studies and hula teacher.
“Status quo has not worked for many in Hawaii and we need that new inspiration but also something for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs is truly grounded in the ‘ike (knowledge) and wisdom of the people of Hawaii, and I feel I can bring to the table,” Manguail said.
Kauai OHA Trustee Dan Ahuna collected enough votes to win outright and avoid a runoff in the general election, while fellow incumbent Keli‘i Akina was the top vote-getter by a wide margin for the at-large seat, but not wide enough to avoid a runoff. He will go up against Keoni Souza on Nov. 3.
Molokai seat incumbent Colette Machado will advance, too, but was more than 6,000 votes behind front-runner Luana Alapa.
The top two vote-getters in each race advance to the general election. However, candidates can win outright if they capture more than half the ballots cast.
The four board members chosen in this year’s elections will join the five existing members to make decisions on how to manage OHA’s $600 million trust fund. The money is used to help people of Hawaiian ancestry, including funding for scholarships, grants and more.
Almost all of the OHA candidates campaigned on the need for transparency in agency operations and finances.
OHA has been criticized by State Auditor Les Kondo for inappropriate spending and for reportedly being under investigation by the FBI and the state Department of the Attorney General.
Last year, Kondo suspended the audit of OHA’s limited liability companies because he was denied access to complete and unredacted minutes of its meetings, even though the audit was ordered by the state Legislature, and under state law the auditor has the authority to examine all OHA records.
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