An interesting political movement is underway, and many of us haven’t noticed it even though it is happening right here, close to home. Kānaka Hawaiʻi are turning out in greater and greater numbers to run for their neighborhood boards.
On Oʻahu, neighborhood boards have become one of the latest frontiers of mālama ʻāina. It’s easy to feel like your lone voice can’t change how things are going, but neighborhood boards give you a say in dealing with localized issues taking place right where you live. Your area’s legislators often attend in person, giving you more direct access to them. Even the Governor, Mayor, and the state’s federal delegation in Washington D.C. send representatives to local board meetings.
Also, if you, as a Kanaka, wish to participate in the American political process, neighborhood boards are a springboard to other forms of elected office. All 6 Kānaka Maoli from O‘ahu who are state government legislators began as neighborhood board members.
And even if being a part of the American political machine is not in your normal comfort zone, neighborhood boards are key forums where important deliberations about ʻāina, wai, and the ways we care for them take place. A recent example is the outcry over the unpopular Ala Wai Flood Control Project, where neighborhood board discussions have made it clear that the Pālolo, Mānoa, and Makiki communities see the project being more about building dams and cemented detention basins, and destroying streams, homes, and neighborhood schools.
So when we mālama ʻāina and aloha ʻāina, we must always first huli ka lima i lalo, and it is now becoming clear that neighborhood boards are another tool in our aloha ʻāina arsenal. So this year, make sure to get involved in the neighborhood board elections.
Look in the mail for your voting passcode, and vote here: www2.honolulu.gov/nbe
And even though it is too late to run for this year’s board, it’s not too early to start planning for next year. Find more information here: www2.honolulu.gov/nbe