HONOLULU — Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee Colette Machado has been voted out of office after more than 24 years and replaced by a political newcomer.
Luana Alapa replaced Machado on the Hawaiian Affairs Board of Trustees following the completion of voting Tuesday, Hawaii Public Radio reported.
Alapa said she was ecstatic upon learning of her new position helping to set policy for the the agency.
“Being a brand new candidate and going up against an incumbent and sitting chairwoman, that was huge,” Alapa said. “So we knew what we were up against. But I think the theme for people was change.”
Alapa defeated Machado by nearly 39,000 votes after campaigning for greater transparency and accountability in spending.
A 2019 audit found as much as $7.8 million in potentially fraudulent, wasteful or abusive spending by the agency.
“A lot of negative fallout has happened because things aren’t, you know, transparent. This is a public state agency, by the way, it’s not a Hawaiian entity. It’s a state agency that serves Hawaiian people. We have a right to understand where the monies are going,” Alapa said.
Healani Sonoda-Pale, an analyst with political action committee Ka Lahui Hawaii, said she was not surprised by the vote because of the “scathing” audit of the organization’s finances.
“At a time when we are in an economic crunch, money matters,” Sonoda-Pale said.
Machado could not immediately be reached for comment by The Associated Press.
The board includes nine members elected to serve four-year terms at the agency established 40 years ago to improve conditions for the state’s Native Hawaiian residents. The board oversees a trust worth an estimated $600 million.
Office of Hawaiian Affairs employee Keola Lindsey also became a new trustee after defeating Mauna Kea activist Lanakila Mangauil for the board’s Hawaii island seat.
This story corrects the spelling of the last name of of Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee candidate to Lanakila Mangauil instead of Manguil.