Aila, Kia‘aina eye OHA candidacies

The Maui News

William Aila Jr. and Esther Kia’aina, the former chairman and former first deputy director at the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, have filed nomination papers to seek at-large and Oahu seats, respectively, on the Board of Trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

Now, Aila is deputy director of the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.

Kia’aina was assistant secretary for Insular Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Interior under former President Barack Obama. Now, she’s executive director of the Pacific Basin Development Council.

Aila and Kia’aina are from Waianae and Nanakuli, Oahu, respectively.

In their joint announcement, they tout their extensive state and federal public service experience. At DLNR, they promoted Hawaiian knowledge in conservation protection and management practices and advanced the practice of taking into account Native Hawaiian traditional and customary rights.

“I am running for OHA because I believe in the kuleana it has been given, to better the lives of Native Hawaiians. Change is good, but it has to be sensible, honest and pono,” Aila said.

Kia’aina said the ballot box is “one of the most powerful tools to effect change in leadership.”

“That is why I am running for OHA,” she said. “I have demonstrated experience of effective leadership and advocacy at all levels of government, especially in Washington, D.C.”

She said her top priority would be fiscal discipline and accountability “since these elements are critical to OHA’s fiduciary obligations and effectiveness to better serve our Hawaiian community.”