Being an informed voter is your kuleana


Aloha mai kākou,

November’s general election is just around the corner and there is a lot at stake. Hawai‘i will be choosing its top leaders from the state Capitol to Washington, D.C., in Maui and Kaua‘i counties, and at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

In last month’s message, I talked about why the Office of Hawaiian Affairs was formed, and the role we fill in the state as a funder, an advocate, a community resource and a Hawaiian-serving organization dedicated to improving quality of life for our beneficiaries and the state as a whole.

Today, OHA’s trust is approaching $700 million, and as it has grown, so too has our reach into communities across the pae ‘āina, along with our visibility as advocates on issues of importance to our people. As the public recognizes the value of services OHA provides, it’s natural for questions to arise, and it is right for our beneficiaries and stakeholders to hold us accountable.

In September, OHA’s trustees approved a $500,000 contract for an independent audit that has been under discussion for well over a year. During that time we were audited twice by the state, and our own independent financial audits have been clean since 2012. Hopefully, this additional audit will clear up misinformation that has been spread about spending at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and provide a true reflection of this agency.

The audit will also answer questions about fiduciary duties expected of those managing our trust assets, and where we can make improvements. At OHA, the buck stops with the trustees, and with me as CEO of the administration. It’s unfortunate that the controversies we always seem embroiled in do injury to OHA’s 165 employees who are working incredibly hard to maintain our services and advocate for our communities.

In November’s election, voters will be making important decisions about the leaders who will set the future course for our islands. I urge you to be informed before you cast your ballot. We’ve learned a lot about fact-checking our national news and political tweets over the past two years, and we should do the same locally. Listen to what candidates are telling you, then check it against their experience and voting records. Before you elect candidates to two, four or six year terms, be confident in their authority and ability to make Hawai‘i a better place.

Being a servant of the government is among the most solemn of duties – one that requires true integrity to make a difference. Do your homework before you vote and consider candidates’ values, accountability and honesty. Are they action-oriented and solutions-driven? Do they build people up, or do they tear them down? Does their vision for Hawai‘i and Hawaiians sound like a future you’d like to see?

Know what candidates stand for before you vote on Nov. 6.

‘O au iho nō me ke aloha a me ka ‘oia‘i‘o,

Kamana‘opono M. Crabbe, Ph.D.

Ka Pouhana/Chief Executive Officer