LIHUE — A retired Air Force colonel was overwhelmingly selected as the chair of the Hawaii GOP at the party’s 2017 state convention.
Shirlene Dela Cruz Ostrov, a small business owner who served in the military for over 20 years, was selected by a 245-111 margin.
She said the Hawaii GOP has an opportunity to turn around in a state dominated by Democrats.
“I will promote a proactive culture in our party,” she said. “My job will be to provide restraint, discipline and integrity to all policies in order to know that your gifts are being well spent. Education and outreach in the community is key to success.”
Ostrov ran against Rep. Andria Tupola, state House Republican minority leader, at the Aqua Kauai Beach Resort in a near-packed house of 359 statewide delegates.
Ostrov will serve two years as the Republican state party chair.
Ostrov, who ran for Congress against Colleen Hanabusa last year, said she is more than willing to work with the Republican minority leader.
“With her leading the minority in the House … you can have the both of us,” Ostrov said. “You get two strong Republicans. I’m here to support all candidates. We are better together. I would like to serve her and to serve all of you and candidates for the party.”
Among her credentials, the state chair has worked at the State Department and Pentagon, and is the president and CEO of a logistics- consulting firm.
Tupola said the Hawaii GOP needs to build up the party.
“I feel it was so necessary to bridge the gap between elected officials and this party,” Tupola said.
“We want more voices in every single district, in every single community. We are fighting the fight of our lives. What we want to do is engage this party and make every one of you come side to side, shoulder to shoulder, with us.”
Fritz Rohlfing, outgoing state party chair, said the Republican Party in Hawaii needs to be a substantial opposition party and a constructive opposition party.
“It’s tempting to believe that we can just make an accurate criticism of the people that are in power, the party in power, (and) the voters will elect us, and we have to do that to a certain extent,” he said. “We also have to provide positive program to our own that attract voters to us — not just because they’re dissatisfied with the people in power but they see that there’s a better alternative.“
Rohlfing gave praise to both candidates.
He said the role of state party chair takes patience and hard work.
“You can’t be just emotional, reacting against what you see as wrong,” he said.
“You have to explain … and explain why you have an idea or what you’re trying to do is a better idea. You can be trusted to carry out the wishes of the voters.”
Also elected Saturday were:
Vice Chair for Coordinated Campaigns: Pat Saiki
Vice Chair for Candidate Recruitment and Training: Lorraine Shin
Vice Chair for Communications: Jonathan Kunimura
Vice Chair for Community Service: Mele Songsong
Vice Chair for Coalitions: Cheryl Sora
Secretary: Jennifer Anderson
Treasurer: Gwen Honjo