Honolulu resident Cal Lee believes his experience and leadership in coaching young adults, as well as working with parents, educational institutions and communities, shows evidence of his ability to tackle diverse, complex issues and generate positive growth.
“Leadership is the result of teamwork. Often that translates to goal orientation, personal sacrifice and discipline in purpose,” he said. “The Office of Hawaiian Affairs has a broad mission of bettering the conditions of all Hawaiians, which means improving health outcomes, bettering education, reaching and creating higher employment levels, partnering with agencies to address problems happening within our economy and making an far-reaching impact.”
If elected as the OHA at-large trustee, Lee’s top priorities would be employment, the Roll Commission and transparency.
Lee said the Native Hawaiian population tends to have lower than average education, higher unemployment and lower incomes that other populations. These are trends the 66-year-old former University of Hawaii assistant football coach wants to reverse. For the Big Island, Lee plans to be “an educator and advocate.”
“We need to tackle issues dealing with unemployment and a recessive economy that has hit our beneficiaries hard,” he said. “We can create jobs and training by leveraging OHA assets, both money and land, with the government and private sectors. We need to better assist Hawaiians in overcoming employment barriers, develop skills and work experience, and provide support so that they’re a competitive force in the workplace.”
When it comes to sovereignty, Lee believes “it can only be pursued and achieved by implementing the process already in progress.”
For him, the means supporting the governor-appointed commission charged with determining just who is Native Hawaiian, holding the commissioners accountable and making their plans known, as well as helping create a roll of people eligible to participate in the process that could lead to self-determination and a self-governing entity.
“The most important thing is the right and ability of Hawaiians in our great state to participate in the creation of their own nation,” he said. “In order to achieve this, the process and its outcomes must be reflective of, and fully supported and endorsed by the Hawaiian people in Hawaii, which means the process absolutely needs to be put before the beneficiaries. Commissioners should have to take the proposed plan and budget to all the islands, hold briefings, make a strong effort to hear and consider everyone’s concerns, and make the necessary changes to move progress forward.”