New OHA bill proposes head to head race
State senators will hear testimony for a bill that calls for a change up to Office of Hawaiian Affairs' election process.
HONOLULU - State senators heard testimony on a measure that would shift trustee at large races in the general election from the current three way match ups down to two.
Supporters say the change would make the election process more fair.
OHA candidate Brendon Kalei'aina Lee welcomes the change.
"If you're one on one, although the incumbent has name recognition because they're already in office, it gives voters a better chance to learn and understand who each candidate is versus having to pick three out of a whole giant field," Lee said.
Trustee Rowena Akana has been in office at OHA for 28 years told senators she strongly opposes the bill.
"These young people who are coming up behind us. I welcome new leaders but they do have to understand nothing is handed to you, and just by changing the law isn't going to make it right or going to guarantee you a seat, you have to work for it you have to spend money for it," Akana said.
Six of OHA's trustee seats are already one on one races. But the three at large seats are elected in a three way run. The measure was by the Senate Hawaiian Affairs committee.
Some in the native Hawaiian community are advocating for the need to elect better qualified candidates to manage OHA.
Just last week, a draft version of a state audit on OHA was leaked to the media, revealing millions of dollars were misspent by the state agency.
What came out of the audit disappointed former OHA chair and state senator Clayton Hee.
"In my opinion, they need to lower their voices so they can hear each other as opposed to shout at each other," Hee said.
Hee was especially concerned about the portion of the draft audit that mentioned allowances for trustees were marked up from $7,000 to $22,000
"That is a huge increase in my opinion and so with that, comes huge responsibility and it requires transparency and it requires accountability," Hee said.
The audit's final version is expected to be released within a few weeks.
The OHA election bill is now up for review by the Senate judiciary committee.