Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Nov. 8 General Election, Civil Beat asked candidates to answer some questions about where they stand on various issues and what their priorities will be if elected.
The following came from Chad Owens, candidate for Office of Hawaiian Affairs at-large trustee. The other candidates for three seats include Brickwood Galuteria, Lei Ahu Isa, Sam King, Keoni Souza and John Waihee IV.
Go to Civil Beat’s Election Guide for general information, and check out other candidates on the General Election Ballot.
1. What do you see as the most pressing problem facing Native Hawaiians, and what will you do about it?
I believe in order to thrive, we must first be healthy. Our people struggle with various diseases mainly caused by a lack of knowledge and resources. Obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes are killing our people.
Our health needs to be number one and I want to help become a spark to make this much-needed change.
2. What would you do to bridge the gaps within the Native Hawaiian community over issues like construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope or development of energy projects?
In all things we need balance. I truly believe it comes down to educating and building trust with our Native Hawaiians. So much has been taken from us already and I believe there is a wall that has been built up because of past issues.
At the end of the day, our Hawaiian people need to be taken care of and on top of that, our lands preserved — a fine balance we still need to work toward and accomplish very soon!
3. Do you support the construction of the TMT atop Mauna Kea? Why or why not? Could a new management structure help to resolve long-standing disputes?
I support all things that support and benefit our beautiful Hawaiian people and the preservation of our one-of-a-kind culture and lands.
4. What role should the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands play in reducing homelessness?
We need to hui together with Hawaiian Home Lands and create more affordable living so that we can help reduce homelessness. Understanding where homelessness stems from is key as well.
A lack of job opportunity, low wages plus the high cost of living aren’t a recipe for one to succeed. We need to do better in other areas as well to assist this issue.
5. Why do you think Hawaiians are disproportionately represented in our prisons and jails? What can be done about it?
Again, the lack of resources, jobs and high costs of living will promote disruption. We are living in desperate times and our Hawaiian people rightfully feel like we are owed so much and because of this combination, we are forcing our own people to make tough decisions for themselves as well as their ohana.
6. What are your views regarding Hawaiian self-determination?
We need Hawaiian consultation.
7. Is OHA getting its fair share of ceded-land revenues from the state?
We’ve only been getting 3.8% out of the full 20% for years! That is a difference of $63.8 million dollars per year. That is a massive difference which should’ve been in place and could’ve helped so many of our Hawaiian people.
8. Is OHA fulfilling its mandate to serve the Hawaiian people?
Absolutely! OHA’s focus has been to strengthen the overall wellbeing of our lahui through this strategic plan (Mana i Mauli Ola) that has helped provide millions of dollars per year toward our beneficiaries in the areas of education, health, housing and economics.
9. Is Hawaii managing its tourism industry properly? What should be handled differently?
I feel there needs to be more education for our tourists prior to arriving. In flight videos highlighting the dos and don’ts while on their stay — cultural and historical background information to be provided. They must parttake in cultural activities such as visiting local farms growing Hawaiian crops such as lo’i patches.
There’s so much more to Hawaii than sun and beautiful beaches.
10. The coronavirus pandemic has exposed numerous flaws in Hawaii’s structure and systems, from outdated technology to economic disparity. If you could take this moment to reinvent Hawaii, to build on what we’ve learned and create a better state, a better way of doing things, what would you do? Please share One Big Idea you have for Hawaii. Be innovative, but be specific.
We should be living in a self-sustainable ecosystem. Hawaii has the perfect environment to accomplish this.
Solar powered, locally grown and distributed food, roads and highways that make sense to decrease traffic, and become an export economy as opposed to an importing one.
I’ve always felt that we were meant to be economic leaders in society, in this world! Hawaii is aloha and aloha is the most powerful thing in the world and we need to make it more accessible. Aloha should be a commodity with a high price tag!