This November, Hawaii’s voters have a chance to send a new, rising leader to OHA’s board room. Joseph Kuhio Lewis, 26, is the youngest candidate running for any position on the OHA Board. Lewis, a Kapolei homesteader and single father of two, brings a refreshing voice and outlook to this race.
“The one thing that many people in Hawaii know is frustration with government and navigating agency bureaucracy. This is especially true of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs,” notes Lewis. “Most citizens, Native Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians alike, don’t understand what OHA is or does. OHA is much more than an Akaka Bill advocate and a Merrie Monarch sponsor. There’s a very obvious gap between OHA and the people it serves. OHA’s paving the way for the future of the Hawaiian community must begin with bridging the gap.”
Running against incumbents is a daunting task for any candidate, especially one new to the political scene like Joe. Lewis, however, is forging ahead undeterred and un-intimidated. “My message is simple. The disconnect between OHA and the community it serves has resulted in OHA’s programs and dollars consistently missing the mark. The most basic needs among Native Hawaiians are unaddressed.” He goes on to explain that “even in the current economy, OHA is sitting on millions and spending millions. I want to make sure we’re achieving the biggest bang for our highly valued buck.”
In 2009, OHA reported its net assets at $363,218,667 and its total expenses for the same year totaled $46,967,358. The agency has incredible potential as a critical economic and political player to provide much-needed assistance for Hawaiian families through the recession and to help revive Hawaii’s economy by redirecting funds and refocusing its programs.
Lewis also points out how OHA can help make Hawaii a better climate for local businesses. “Thousands of small business people in Hawaii are Hawaiian, and this is an area where OHA can step in and be a better advocate. The thin relationship between the Hawaiian business community and OHA, and the rest of government, leaves a lot of room for improvement. There are plenty of opportunities for private-public partnerships that will benefit Native Hawaiians and create value for our whole state.”
Clearly, a vote for Joe Lewis is a vote for a better-served Hawaiian community. And when good things happen for Native Hawaiians, all of Hawaii benefits.
Submitted by the Friends of Joseph K Lewis