I humbly mahalo Ke Akua for the blessing of being able to continue to serve our kānaka.
Mahalo, especially, to my constituents on the island of Maui who I represent on the Board of Trustees for demonstrating their trust in my representation of their voices by encouraging my candidacy for re-election and for allowing me to serve another four-year term without opposition. I thank all who have put their trust in me.
This message is to everyone offering themselves for election: all the candidates putting themselves and their talents on the line, and demonstrating a willingness to serve, should be applauded.
In December, I will begin my new term with a pledge to continue serving our lāhui with dignity, integrity, accountability and transparency. OHA’s mission to better the conditions of our Hawaiian people cannot be realized without a similar commitment from each of us.
During the OHA BOT candidate forums, we heard the candidates’ thoughts regarding the biggest challenges facing OHA. I think we all know what those challenges are because we deal with one or more of them, directly or indirectly. We all have ʻohana, friends or neighbors who struggle with health issues. Or who struggle to pay their rent or feed their families.
The first, and perhaps most important, challenge is how we take care of our health – both mind and body. We can do little to create a better life for our families if we do not enjoy good health.
I hope to work with my fellow trustees to ensure that OHA continues to invest in programs that help the community adopt healthier living habits – including improving their diets by making better food choices and getting more exercise. These are the building blocks for good health. We also need to find new strategies to help ʻŌiwi struggling with drug addiction, and with chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. These are daunting problems, but they are not insurmountable. If Hawaiians have the will, OHA must help find a way.
OHA must continue to look closely at education as another critical building block to position our community for greater participation in the economic life of Hawaiʻi. We need to flip the statistics. Instead of being over-represented in areas that reflect suffering and hardship, our people need to be better represented in areas such as academic achievement, entrepreneurial spirit and success through hard work and perseverance.
Through OHA, and through the conversations we have in our families, we must help our children and grandchildren understand that education unlocks opportunities. The better educated they are, the stronger their credentials and the more influence they will have in public policy-making and in the decisions that affect our collective future in education, energy, and economic growth.
OHA cannot achieve its vision of raising a beloved lāhui alone.
Our goal is to support community organizations and entities that are already successfully serving our lāhui in the areas of education, health, housing and economics. By collaborating together in a spirit of lōkahi, we can accomplish so much more.
OHA must seek innovative avenues to put our kānaka in homes that they can afford – and to be realistic about what is affordable.
The road ahead is not easy. We all know that. But I end with the wish that we will tackle the difficult problems facing our people in the spirit of lōkahi and e pūpūkahi i holomua. Let us honor our kūpuna – whose sacrifices made our lives today possible – by building a better Hawaiʻi for our children.
Aloha nui iā kākou!