Kō Kākou Kuleana e Koho Balota: A Quick Guide to the OHA Elections


Keliʻi Akina, Ph.D., Trustee, At-Large

2022 is a significant political year for Hawaiʻi. The majority of elected offices will be on the ballot in November. Among the most important elections will be for trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA). The OHA elections have a tremendous impact on Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians. In the upcoming years, OHA is poised to accomplish more for its beneficiaries and everyone in Hawaiʻi especially through OHA’s ownership and development of its Kakaʻako Makai and Iwilei property sites.

The candidates elected as OHA trustees will have important work ahead of them. Native Hawaiians are confronted with soaring housing costs, stagnant wages, and inadequate access to quality healthcare and educational opportunities. In addition, OHA’s trust must be protected, expanded, and kept accountable. Voters have a responsibility to elect leaders with the capacity and courage to address these issues.

Every registered voter in the State of Hawaiʻi has the right and duty to vote for OHA trustees. The right to vote is embedded in the United States Constitution. The election for OHA trustees is not limited to a particular group of voters. This reflects the practice of the Hawaiian Kingdom in which citizenship was open to all people regardless of race. OHA’s mission as a state agency is to better the conditions of Native Hawaiians. When Native Hawaiians flourish, so does the general population.

Nearly 180,000 Native Hawaiians are registered to vote and there are approximately 800,000 registered voters in the State of Hawaiʻi. By voting, the people of Hawaiʻi have the capacity to increase our political influence and compel elected officials to address the issues that are important to us.

Voter Information on the OHA elections

According to the Hawaiʻi Office of Elections, there are 18 candidates for six OHA trustee positions. Any qualified citizen that resides in the State of Hawaiʻi, regardless of race, can become a candidate for OHA trustee. Here is a list of the candidates for each of the OHA trustee races.

  • OHA Maui Resident Trustee: Carmen Hulu Lindsey
  • OHA Hawaiʻi Resident Trustee: Mililani B. Trask and Hope Alohalani Cermelj
  • OHA Oʻahu Resident Trustee: Kalei Akaka, Jackie Kahoʻokele Burke, Brendon Kaleiʻāina Lee, and Robert Peters
  • OHA At-Large Trustee (the top three winners will become trustees): Lei (Leinaʻala) Ahu Isa, Kaʻapana Z. Aki, Julian (Keikilani) Ako, Brickwood Gaulteria, Uʻi Kahue-Cabanting, Sam (Kalanikupua) King, Kealiʻi Makekau, Chad Owens, William Paik, Keoni Souza, and John D Waiheʻe IV

Voting for the 2022 Election will be vote-by-mail. The Primary Election will be held on Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022. All registered voters will receive their ballots by July 26, 2022. The General Election is on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. Voters will receive their ballots by Oct. 21, 2022.

Completed ballots must be received by the Hawaiʻi elections office no later than 7:00 pm on the day of the election. Vote-by-mail ballots can also be submitted in-person at a Voter Service Center. Voters can also vote in-person. Voter Service Centers within each county will be open for 10 days through Election Day. You can access a list of Voter Service Centers near you at the Office of Elections Voter Service Centers and Places of Deposit (hawaii.gov).

If people are not registered to vote, they can do so online at State of Hawaii: Office of Elections Online Voter Registration by Aug. 3, 2022. People can also register to vote via mail by Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022 or in-person on Election Day at any Voter Service Center.

He kuleana kō kākou e koho balota! We have a responsibility to vote!