Incumbents led the vote count for three at-large seats

Ten candidates are vying for five seats on the Office of Hawaiian Affairs board in November’s general election. The 2018 election will also decide who will lead the state, and who will represent Hawai‘i in Congress.

The Aug. 11 primary narrowed the crowded field of OHA trustee candidates to the two facing off in the general election to replace retiring Oʻahu Trustee Peter Apo, as well as the six vying for at-large seats. Three candidates are challenging OHA’s three incumbent at-large trustees in the general election; the incumbent trustees garnered the highest number of votes in a field of 15 candidates. The two Maui trustee candidates will face off for the first time in the general election.

The general election will determine the state’s top two executives. In the gubernatorial race, incumbent Gov. David Ige (D) faces challengers state Rep. Andria Tupola (R), Jim Brewer (G) and Terrence Teruya (N). The race for lieutenant governor includes state Sen. Josh Green (D), Renee Ing (G), Marissa Kerns (R) and Paul Robotti (N).

In addition to choosing candidates, voters will weigh in on whether Hawaiʻi is due for another constitutional convention, commonly referred to as a ‘con con.’ The ballot may also include constitutional amendments proposed by the Legislature.

The constitutional convention question is a critical one for Hawaiians, and the state as a whole, as it would amend the state’s governing document. It’s been four decades since Hawaiʻi last opened its constitution up for sweeping changes. The 1978 con con was pivotal for Hawaiians, leading to the creation of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, the recognition of ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi as an official state language and implementation of comprehensive Hawaiian education in the public schools. It also paved the way for the return of Kaho‘olawe as a cultural reserve.

But Hawaiian rights were just one aspect of the convention – the entire proceedings cover 1,242 pages. They include a comment by the late Frenchy DeSoto, a delegate to the convention who became OHA’s first chairperson: “This convention, if it so desires to adopt these proposals set before it on behalf of the Hawaiian community, can go down in history as being the only elective body truly representative of the people throughout Hawaiʻi, which gave any consideration that had meaningful and lasting impact on the native Hawaiian community.”

While many in support of a con con are unsatisfied with the status quo, some opponents worry about what could happen to Hawaiian rights if changes are made to the constitution. Chad Blair addresses some of these concerns in a Honolulu Civil Beat column:

More information about the con con and other constitutional amendment questions will be available in OHA’s 2018 candidate guide in next month’s issue of Ka Wai Ola.


Photo: Kalei Akaka headshot
Photo: Esther Kia‘¯aina headshot


Photo: John D. Waihe‘e IV headshot
Waiheʻe IV
Photo: Lei (Leina‘ala) Ahu Isa headshot
Ahu Isa
Photo: Rowena Noelani Akana headshot
Photo: William J. Ail¯a Jr. headshot
Ailā Jr.
Photo: Faye (Pua) Hanohano headshot
Photo: Brendon Kalei‘aina Lee headshot


Photo: Ke‘eaumoku Kapu headshot
Photo: Carmen Hulu Lindsey headshot

Election results


OHA Oʻahu Resident Trustee

  1. Kalei Akaka: 44,917 votes (15.7%)
  2. Esther Kiaʻāina: 39,875 votes (13.9%)

OHA At-Large Trustee (3 seats)

  1. John D. Waihe‘e IV: 74,183 (8.6%)
  2. Lei (Leina‘ala) Ahu Isa: 53,055 (6.2%)
  3. Rowena Noelani Akana: 50,583 (5.9%)
  4. William J. Ailā Jr.: 44,151 (5.1%)
  5. Faye (Pua) Hanohano: 35,467 (4.1%)
  6. Brendon Kalei‘aina Lee: 33,951 (4%)

Maui Trustee

  1. Ke‘eaumoku Kapu
  2. Carmen Hulu Lindsey

Source: Office of Elections