Voters decide Trask, Waiheʻe IV will return to OHA Board of Trustees
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs held elections for six seats on its Board of Trustees during this general election.
What is OHA? It came about in a time of activism in the 1970s to right past wrongs suffered by Native Hawaiians. Its mission is to improve the conditions of Native Hawaiians through a variety of programs and services.
The semi-autonomous state agency is governed by a nine-member board chosen by all Hawaiʻi residents, not just Native Hawaiians. In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Rice v. Cayetano that restricting voting to Native Hawaiians was unconstitutional.
Four of the trustees are at-large seats representing the state as a whole. The other five represent each of the following districts: Hawaiʻi Island, Maui, Molokaʻi and Lānaʻi, Oʻahu, and Kauaʻi and Niʻihau. However, all candidates run statewide races.
On Tuesday, Mililani B. Trask won the contest for the Hawaiʻi Island trustee. She was ahead of the other candidate by over 50,000 votes, according to the Office of Elections.
She has been the interim trustee since February, following Keola Lindsey's resignation. Trask is a lawyer and Native Hawaiian rights activist who has served the Hawaiian community for decades.
The top finishers for the three at-large seats were Brickwood Galuteria, incumbent John D. Waihe'e IV, and Keoni Souza. Nearly 40% of the ballots for those OHA at-large seats were left blank.
On the general election ballot, voters did not see races for Maui and Oʻahu. The trustee for Maui, Carmen Hulu Lindsey, ran unopposed. On Oʻahu, incumbent Kalei Akaka won the primary with over 50% of the votes.