2012 Candidate for U.S. Senate
1. Do you believe that the United States government should formally acknowledge the special legal and political status of Native Hawaiians, as it has done for Native American and Alaska Native Groups? If so, what would you do to secure such ackowledgment for Native Hawaiians? If not, why not?
Yes. First, of course, reintroduce the Akaka bill and work with my Hawai‘i delegation colleagues and the community to pass it. But we can’t put all of our eggs in that basket. So second, pursue an administrative recognition process and support the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission. Finally, reverse a growing disconnect on Native Hawaiian rights in Hawai‘i and nationally by advocating for and defending such rights wherever possible.
2. What are some examples of actions that you have personally taken to better the conditions of Native Hawaiians?
One that exemplifies my approach is my community outreach as congressman for the Native Hawaiian Education Act. Hawai‘i’s 2nd District was and is home to more Native Hawaiians than any other of 435 congressional district nationally, yet it had not one NHEA grant awardee. We literally brought the program to likely awardees throughout my district and assisted and supported their applications. As a result grants were secured for several programs beyond Honolulu.
3. How would you address the challenges of the Native Hawaiian Health Care Act and the Native Hawaiian Education Act?
First, as the line of attack on reauthorization is usually the alleged lack of empirical evidence of need and benefit of these programs, practice preventive medicine by working with grantees and the broader community to strengthen information collection and reporting systems. Second, convert funding where not already achieved to administration budget items rather than continue undependable reliance on congressional earmarks.
The opinions expressed here are those of the candidate and do not represent the views of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.