Kelea Levy

Kelea Levy featured photo. Flag.

Kelea Levy

Kelea Levy

Candidate:  Kelea Levy
‘Aha District:  Oʻahu
Facebook: vote4kelealevy
LinkedIn: kelealevy

  1. What are your qualifications to be a delegate to the ‘aha?

I am a professional in the field of Development, which is a fundamental issue for the future of Hawai‘i and the Hawaiian people.  I received a Bachelor’s degree in Development Studies with a focus in Economics from the University of California, Berkeley.  Development Studies is an interdisciplinary international area study that looks at problems of mass social transformation associated with historical processes of colonization and decolonization, and contemporary development.  My studies have looked at massive global political and economic changes which have led to the creation of third world underdevelopment and poverty, as well as the ongoing policy and funding mechanisms which maintain ties between first and second world nations with those in the third world, and the social movements, political changes, and economic policy responses that have taken place on the ground in third world nations in response to ongoing challenges.  Through my education, I have developed a profound understanding and value for the principles of good governance and an extensive knowledge of various types of representational governance structures embodied in national constitutions, the understanding of which are key in avoiding the pitfalls of underdevelopment.  I’m currently working toward the completion of my Master’s thesis on the subject of contemporary Hawaiian Self-determination at the University of Hawaii at Manoa at the Center for Pacific Islands Studies. I work in the Hawaiian community full time supporting the educational needs of underserved Hawaiian youth and young adults.

  1. How would you characterize the values of your campaign to be elected as a delegate to the ‘aha for example, with aloha, lōkahi, kūpono, etc.?

The following are core values that were emphasized in my upbringing, what they mean to me, and are my guiding principles in this campaign.

•  Ha‘aha‘a – to act with humility, to put principles before pride, to not speak about oneself unless prompted, to be sensitive to how our actions effect others

•  Mālama – to take action in care of others, to anticipate the needs of others, to provide comfort and a sense of wellbeing, to protect with great care

Ho‘olohe Pono – to listen well to others, to be charitable and give others the benefit of the doubt, to put aside our own understandings to see through the eyes of others

•  Kuleana – to recognize each of our unique responsibilities to our community and take action without hesitation while respecting the kuleana of others

•  Nānā I Ke Kumu – to stay rooted in the intent of our ancestors to achieve wellbeing, to not get so lost in our contemporary politics that we miss the point of it all

  1. What three components of the constitution are you particularly interested in advocating and why?

I believe that the kind of government we want today will be smart, fair, and inclusive. Toward these ends, these are three parts of the constitution for which I am particularly interested in advocating:

•  Bicameral legislature: I will advocate for two houses in our legislature; one that represents us in proportion to our population size in various districts, and another that represents the districts themselves. I believe this is important for two reasons. First, two houses will help us be more critical in our decision making, and second, by representing us by both population and location, we will have a good idea of not only the will of the majority, but also the diversity of our needs in different places.

•  Semi-autonomous governing districts: I will advocate for our people to be able to form multiple decentralized semi-autonomous governance districts. I believe this is important because it will give our people the power to address localized issues, it increases localized accessibility to our political processes, and it will balance the power of a centralized government.

•  Constitutional amendment by referendum: I will advocate for our people to be able to propose constitutional amendments by petition, and to have those amendments ratified by a simple majority vote that wins in at least 75% of our districts. I believe this is important because it puts power directly in the hands of our people and gives us flexibility. If something isn’t working due to an inherent flaw in our system, rather than trying to wrangle the system, this will give our people the power to do as we are doing right now – to put aside all precedents and make the government be the way we need it to be.

  1. What governance model will you advocate for?

I think what a lot of people want to know is if candidates are for federal recognition or independence. I think that kind of question belongs on a ballot. I believe a question as important as our political status must be clear, unhindered by other issues, and made directly to our people by referendum, and certainly never stand in the way of our primary right to form a government of our own choosing that has the power to unite our people. Fair and inclusive government first, politics second.

I will be advocating for a parliamentary democracy where our legislature votes for a prime minister among its members rather than us holding presidential elections. I support this type of governance model because I think any system that places too much importance on one person will create division in our community.

I will also be advocating for a system like many other modern governments where “the people” are treated as a fourth branch of government. This will help balance the powers of government in the absence of a strong executive branch, and it will emphasize the role of government to serve the people.

  1. Are you willing to discuss other governance models?

Yes! I’m not only willing to discuss other governance models, it’s my greatest hope that other delegates who are elected will also have expert knowledge in a multitude of areas relevant to governance and writing our constitution, and that through honest, open-minded, and lively debates, we will be able to put together the very best type of government – one that truly represents who we are and will empower us through the ages.

  1. How would the governance model that you choose impact the ali‘i trusts, the Hawaiian Homestead Act, federal contracts made with Native Hawaiian businesses; grants provided by the United States for programs and services to the Native Hawaiian people?

The greatest challenge to our ali‘i trusts have come from 14th Amendment US constitutional challenges stating that our exclusive benefit from these trusts is a form of inequality. The greatest challenge experienced by homesteaders and those qualified for homestead land is the lack of control over Hawaiian Homelands assets and resources. The greatest challenge to federal contracts is our ability to maintain access to contracts and special contract bidding rights. The greatest challenges in terms of grants for programs and services is our ability to maintain these funding streams and to have meaningful input on how these funds are used and managed.

The form of government that I propose will maximize our power as a people to address and overcome these challenges in two major ways. First and foremost, to address these issues, we have to have a government to negotiate on our behalf that can show that it legitimately represents the will of the Hawaiian people. The government that I am proposing is highly inclusive and egalitarian, and will acknowledge the rights of our people to make an explicit choice about our political status, all of which I believe will win the greatest support from our people. Second, the government will need to be flexible and responsive so that when challenges or opportunities arise, we’ll be able to adapt quickly. The government that I propose will achieve this through the power that is held by the people to make amendments to the constitution through referendum.

  1. In your governance model, would you be inclusive of people other than Native Hawaiians as citizens?

No. This government is being built to protect the indigenous rights of Native Hawaiians to be self-governing no matter what our nationality is and in fulfillment of our kuleana to our children and their children forever, the source of that kuleana stemming all the way back to the first Hawaiian peoples, a status that is unique to us. If we as a people choose by referendum that we want to be part of building an independent Hawaiian nation that is internationally recognized, and must therefore include non-Hawaiians, we must only ever build that nation with people who will likewise recognize and respect our right as an indigenous people to self-governance and self-determination.

  1. How do you see participation by others in helping the ‘aha on the various aspects of the draft constitution?

I believe it’s important to draw on any and all expert resources available in making good decisions. With that being said, I am also critical of expertise in terms of those who are overly theoretical and have little or no practical experience in applying their theories, those who are unable to critique their own theories or unable to address others’ critiques of their theories, and anyone whose theories do not thoroughly address legitimate challenges and concerns now and in the future for our people.

  1. Looking ahead, as a delegate to the ‘aha, how would you assure that the governance model ratified by the Native Hawaiian people is implemented and recognized at the state, federal, or international level, as appropriate.

The governance model that I am proposing will have two very important characteristics for insuring that we have a viable and recognizable government – legitimacy and flexibility. First, as I stated earlier, we have to have a legitimate government, meaning our constitution and government have to have a high level of support from our people. The governance model I propose helps insure this by advocating a system of governance that is inclusive, egalitarian, and gives our people a right to explicitly choose our political status in a manner that is clear and unhindered by other issues. Second, through the powers I advocate to be held by our people, especially the power to amend the constitution, the governance model I propose will insure flexibility. In this way, when our people explicitly choose to take a path toward specific types of recognition, our people will also have the power to amend our constitution if necessary.

  1. Why should Native Hawaiians vote for you?

•  I have a unique educational background that will be a powerful resource in helping to insure that we build a government that is resistant to the common pitfalls of underdevelopment, inequality, and corruption.

•  I am a listener, and have therefore over the years come to understand many perspectives within the Hawaiian community. I have acted on what I’ve learned by researching these perspectives and creating multiple possible solutions to issues that divide us. By electing me, you will increase the chances that we will write a unifying constitution.

•  I am focused on completing a constitution within whatever timeframe is allotted to us.