First-time candidate Luana Alapa has ousted Office of Hawaiian Affairs chairwoman Colette Machado from the Molokai seat on the Board of Trustees, according to second printout results released shortly before 2 a.m. Wednesday.
Alapa had 55% of the votes cast to 45% for Machado in the second printout, excluding blank votes. Alapa had delivered a wake-up call to Machado in the primary election by placing ahead of the longtime incumbent in a three-way race.
Keola Lindsey, advocacy director for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, pulled far ahead of educator and activist Lanakila Mangauil in the race for OHA’s Hawaii island seat.
Lindsey had 61% of the votes cast in the second printout to 39% for Mangauil, founder and executive director of the Hawaiian Cultural Center of Hamakua, who is best known as a leader in the fight against the Thirty Meter Telescope. Lindsey, who is neutral on the TMT project, would fill the seat held by his uncle, Robert “Bob” Lindsey Jr., who is retiring.
In the contest for an at-large seat on the board, Keli‘i Akina, a self-styled OHA watchdog who was first elected in 2016, was neck-and-neck with challenger Keoni Souza, a musician and real estate agent. Akina had 50.51% to Souza’s 49.49% in the second printout, not counting blank votes.
Three of the nine seats on OHA’s Board of Trustees were up for grabs in the election. The semi-autonomous state agency manages a $600 million trust fund on behalf of Native Hawaiians.
Although all voters may cast ballots in the OHA elections, many do not. Roughly a third left the OHA contests blank in early voting. Some voters would rather defer to people of Hawaiian ancestry while others say they aren’t familiar enough with the candidates.
Machado was first elected to the OHA board in 1996 and has been a stalwart figure on Native Hawaiian issues since her early days as one of the original members of the Protect Kahoʻolawe ʻOhana. She also served on the Kahoʻolawe Island Reserve Commission, state Land Use Commission and the Hawaiian Home Lands Commission.
Alapa, a former Miss Hawaii, pursued an entirely different career path, teaching modeling and personal development, and producing fashion shows, pageants and other entertainment.
“In regards to my goals for OHA, affordable housing is at the top of my list,” Alapa said. “It is about finding the opportunities for the Hawaiian people to have a roof over their heads, especially in their own ancestral lands.”
Lindsey, 44, said he intends to focus on the key priorities identified in OHA’s strategic plan: health, housing, education and economic stability.
“Those are really bread-and-butter issues, the quality of life kind of things that are really going to help families succeed,” he said.
Lindsey knows the agency well, having served as its senior cultural advocate and as its program manager for the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument.
Souza said he wants to bring “ethical and unconventional leadership” to OHA, which he described as “a flawed system that has lost the confidence of the people.” Among his priorities are broadening OHA’s funding for education, from early childhood through graduate school as well as in the trades.
Akina has pushed for “accountability and transparency” at OHA during his first term, including an independent audit that highlighted inadequate oversight, missing documents and conflicts of interest.