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2022 Election: Brendon Kalei’aina Lee

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  • Brendon Kaleiaina Lee
Name on ballot:

Brendon Kalei’aina Lee

Running for:

OHA Oahu Resident Trustee

Political party:

No answer submitted

Campaign website:

Current occupation:

OHA Trustee At-Large



Previous job history:

No answer submitted

Previous elected office, if any:

OHA Trustee At-Large

Please describe your qualifications to represent the people of Hawaii.

I have a lifetime of experience within the Native Hawaiian advocacy community. I am a founding member of the Pearl Harbor Hawaiian Civic Club Na Opio program and a founding member of the Elizabeth Kahanu Hawaiian Civic Club. I am a former second vice-president of the Association of the Hawaiian Civic Clubs. I am the immediate past president of the Kamehameha Schools Alumni Association. I have a proven history of collaborative leadership as the elected chair of the Aha 2016 and led a diverse group of Native Hawaiians to draft and adopt a constitution for a Native Hawaiian Government.

What will be your top priority if elected?

Fight to return the planning for Kaka’ako Makai to the entire Board of Trustees and put a stop to Board leaderships use of permitted interaction groups to make minority plans behind closed doors without the input by every Trustee.

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

OHA needs to find a chief executive that can successfully implement a comprehensive hiring and retention plan. OHA’s administration’s reorganization is a complete failure. OHA lost over a century of institutional knowledge and is still 40% down in personnel over a year after the reorganization. I would implement an action plan that Trustees would be able to hold administration accountable to.

What should OHA do to help alleviate homelessness and increase home ownership among Native Hawaiians?

I helped to orchestrate the acquisition of two parcels in Iwilei adjacent to OHA’s headquarters Na Lama Kukui. This is significant because all these properties are within Honolulu’s Transit Oriented Development Corridor which will allow OHA to redevelop the area with high density affordable housing for Native Hawaiians. I have also developed a revolving loan program to help Native Hawaiians with down payments for home ownership. This program is contingent on certain provisions being worked by the State so it has not been brought forward to the Board yet. There are also other land acquisitions I am working on other islands to address the housing crisis state wide and not just in Honolulu.

What reforms, if any, would you propose to make OHA more transparent to the public?

In 2019 I proposed a new working group to investigate best practices for a new governance model for OHA to address this very thing. I was appointed the chair of the group and led a team of 4 Trustee and administration to study all Ali’i Trusts, Native American and Native Alaskan governments, and Maori governing entities. The completed report and new governance model was proposed to the Board of Trustees and the Trustees from both Kamehameha Schools and Lunalilo Trustee and their respective CEO’s provided testimony in favor of the changes. The new governance model was unanimously adopted by OHA Trustees.

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 do not see the relevance of this question as OHA does not have a position on the TMT project. I fully support OHA’s ongoing lawsuit against the State of Hawaii for its mismanagement of Mauna Kea. I also support the new actions taken by the State Legislature this past year in removing UH as the managing entity for Mauna Kea.

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?

Housing is the most pressing issue facing not just Native Hawaiians but the entire state. Secure, safe, affordable housing address so many social, economic, and health issues. As part of the new governance model, I helped to develop an endowment model for the Native Hawaiian Trust. This endowment model will provide greater returns with lower risk for the portfolio. One of the results of these greater returns will be the down payment revolving loan program. The Iwilei acquisitions will help to address this housing crisis as well. Through the conversation that needed to take place with the surrounding landowners in Iwilei future partnerships are now possible to add more inventory to those housing projects. I have also recently been tasked to chair an ad hoc committee investigate OHA’s constitutional right to issue revenue bonds. This will allow OHA to leverage all financial tools available to them for acquisition and development of properties.

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

There has not been a community meeting on oahu in over 4 years. As your new Oahu trustee i commit to having a minimum of 6 community meetings a year, one in each Moku, Waianae, Wailua, Koolauloa, Koolaupoko, Kona, and Ewa. I will take OHA to our beneficiaries; they will not have to come to OHA.
While oha has its 15 year strategic plan, Mana I Mauliola in place, so much more still needs to be done. With your help i will return to OHA, this time as your new Oahu trustee and continue my history of collaborative leadership with issues that still need to be addressed such as OHA’s continued fight for public land trust equity, completing the rebalancing of the native Hawaiian Trust Portfolio, updating OHA’s investment, debt, and cash management policies to align with OHA’s new endowment model. Developing a collaboration with the Department of Hawaiian Homelands to address the affordable housing crisis and developing kaka’ako makai with a viable master plan and stop wasting resources on the unrealistic goal of waterfront affordable housing.

View more candidate questionnaires or see more 2022 Hawaii elections coverage.
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