Hawaiʻi’s State Constitution mandates that every 10 years district lines for representation by elected officials be reexamined based on new population numbers.
State law also requires that all State elected officials must run for re-election, which means that all 25 senators and 51 representatives are up for re-election. Of these seats, we know that House seat 25, representing Makiki to Nuʻuanu, which is currently held by Rep. Sylvia Luke, will have no incumbent as she has announced she will be running for Lieutenant Governor. House seat 36, representing Mililani, currently held by Rep. Val Okimoto, will also be vacant, as she has announced she will be seeking the newly redrawn Honolulu City Council seat.
Hawaiʻi Island will be gaining a seat in the House of Representatives as Oʻahu loses a seat, meaning there will also be an open house seat on Hawaiʻi Island with no incumbent.
Within the Honolulu City Council there are changes as well. The newly redrawn seat that once represented just Pearl City, will now represent Pearl City to Mililani. The current incumbent in council seat 8 representing Pearl City, Brandon Elefante, has reached his term limit – which will leave this seat vacant. Other candidates who have announced their intention to join Rep. Okimoto in seeking this seat will be former Council Members Ron Minor and Ernie Martin.
Council seat 6, representing Makiki to ʻAiea, will be vacated by Councilmember Carol Fukunaga and is being sought by Democratic Party of Hawaiʻi Chair Tyler Dos Santos-Tam and Hawaiʻi Federated Industries Founder Ikaika Hussey.
Between Kauaʻi and Hawaiʻi Island there are at least three open seats, with council members Mason Chock and Arryl Kaneshiro reaching their term limits on Kauaʻi and a council member on Hawaiʻi announcing they will not seek re-election.
Then there are the five seats that will be up for re-election here at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Between the three at-large seats, plus Oʻahu and Maui, this election cycle has the majority of the Board of Trustees up for re-election.
All this to say that the lāhui needs Native Hawaiians to step forward. The issues that have been at the forefront of the news cycles of late are some of the most important issues to Native Hawaiians.
On Hawaiʻi Island there is the ongoing mismanagement of Maunakea, the lease negotiation with the U.S. Army for Pōhakuloa, and protection of the newly formed land from the 2018 Kilauea eruption. On Maui there are continued water-use issues, over-tourism, and a lack of affordable housing. On Molokaʻi water continues to be an issue as well as the the axis deer over-population. Oʻahu faces ongoing housing issues, homelessness, the Red Hill issue and, of course, rail. And Kauaʻi has been experiencing iwi issues with developers and recent land grabs from wealthy individuals from the continent gobbling up hundreds of acres at a time.
Not only do we have the down ticket races I mentioned earlier, we will also be electing a new governor and lieutenant governor, which could determine the State of Hawaiʻi’s leadership for the next 16 years.
On March 1, 2022, individuals wishing to seek elected office may begin to file their candidacy papers with the Hawaiʻi State Office of Elections. The more Native Hawaiians we can get into elected office, the more that Native Hawaiians will be able to protect what is important to us. Of course, the other important part of this equation is for Native Hawaiians to register to vote and then show up in August to cast a ballot in the Primary and then again in November’s General Election.