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?
Native Hawaiians deserve the same rights of self-determination as Alaska Natives and American Indians. I am an original sponsor of the Akaka bill and will continue to fight for Native Hawaiian recognition.
2. What are some examples of actions that you have personally taken to better the conditions of Native Hawaiians?
The best experts on this issue are Native Hawaiians themselves; I have worked with Native Hawaiian leaders to address strategies at the federal level to bring resources and policy solutions home. In the U.S. House, I worked with Republican Don Young of Alaska to restore funding for Native Hawaiian and Alaska Native education programs, taking on my own caucus and turning them around to support the Young-Hirono amendments. I have introduced bipartisan legislation that creates homeownership opportunities for Native Hawaiians by expanding access to loan guarantees.
3. How would you address the challenges of the Native Hawaiian Health Care Act and the Native Hawaiian Education Act?
I was the U.S. House sponsor of the Native Hawaiian Health Care Improvement Reauthorization Act of 2009, legislation that was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senator Inouye. If elected, I will work to educate my Senate colleagues of both parties about the needs of indigenous peoples and will work collaboratively with my colleagues to move legislative initiatives that protect our native people, just as I did in getting all House freshman Democrats in 2007 to support the Akaka bill.
The opinions expressed here are those of the candidate and do not represent the views of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.