BY MICHELE VAN HESSEN – Zach Thomson, a qualified and a respected Eagle Scout Local Den Leader and a civic volunteer, is being prevented from filling a vacant position on the Manoa Neighborhood Board and some Hawaii GOP members contend it is because Thomson is a Republican candidate for state House.

On Wednesday, October 6th, at the Manoa Neighborhood Board Meeting, Thomson was denied the chance to fill a vacancy on the Manoa Neighborhood Board by Democrats on the board and the seat remains vacant.

The only criteria to serve on the Manoa Neighborhood Board are that you reside in the sub-district that represents Manoa; and you are able to attend a monthly meeting held on the first Wednesday of each month. Candidates for elected state office are not prohibited to serve on the Manoa Neighborhood Board.

Thomson, a businessman, active civic leader, founder of the non-profit Lucent Film Academy, Eagle Scout and Active Boy Scout Den Leader, lives with his wife and child in Manoa.

“The position would have been left vacant before the members of the Manoa Neighborhood Board would allow the resident and Republican candidate for State House to be allowed to volunteer his time and expertise to the Manoa community,” says Rep. Corrine Ching, R-Nuuanu, Liliha.

She says one of the key vocal opponents and members to vote against the nomination of the Eagle Scout was Tom Heinrich, a session worker for Senator Brian Taniguchi, D-Manoa.

A minimum of 9 votes are needed to confirm a Manoa Neighborhood Board member.  The vote was 8-3-2 with 2 excused. The three votes in opposition were from Tom Heinrich, Robert Whitaker and Martin Eby with two abstentions by George Simson and Chairman Kaleo Gagne.

“It was a disgrace.” said 9-year veteran and past Manoa Neighborhood Board Chair Nadine Nishioka, who witnessed the event.

Member and past candidate Kimberly Case abruptly left the Board after Thomson was denied the opportunity to become a member of the Manoa Neighborhood Board saying: “I am so disgusted, I am now leaving.” Case filed a complaint with the Board Commission.

The Mayor’s representative, Hubert Minn, also said that the election was not fair or right.

Sarita Corn, teacher at Department of Education, who says she she has aspirations to be in the Senate, and worked for Sen. Willie Espero, D-Ewa, was approved that night to serve on the board for a different Manoa board vacant seat.

Eric B. Marshall, a GOP candidate for Senate, says he was just voted into the McCully Moili’ili Neighborhood Board on Nov 7th by a 10-1 margin. He was at the Manoa neighborhood board meeting that night

“I was attending the meeting not as a member but to challenge Sen. Brian Taniguchi to a debate at any time or place.  I asked him to help sponsor a forum since the Board would not sponsor a forum. If you were there like the rest of us, and saw what happened to Zach, it would shock you.”

Submitted by Michele Van Hessen. She can be reached at mvanhess@gmail.com

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