Keone Nakoa
Keone Nakoa

Candidate Profile

Candidate’s Name: Keone Nakoa
Phone: (808) 589-8635
Political Office Position Sought: State Senate
Senate/Representative District: Senate District 13
Are you an incumbent? No
Campaign contact name, phone number, and e-mail address:
Keone Nakoa, (808) 589-8635,

1.     Why are you running for office?

I am running because I want to serve and give back to the community I grew up in. Following the legacy of Senator Akaka, I believe that public servants should listen to their constituents and always remember why they were elected in the first place – to serve the community. I have a broad base of experience working at every level – State, Local, and Federal – and on every branch of government – Legislative, Executive, and Judicial. I know the issues that matter most to this community because this is where I grew up, this is my home.

2.     What are your views about Hawaiian self-governance? In your capacity as a legislator, what action, if any, would you advocate in support of Hawaiian self- governance?

Like the Democratic Party Platform, I support the rights of Hawaiians to self-determination by establishing the governmental entity of their choosing. Hawaiians are the indigenous people of Hawaii, and we deserve parity with the other indigenous groups in the United States.

As a Hawaiian, I support any effort to bring our community together so that we may figure out our own path organically, instead of having some group or agency tell us what is best for us. We need to be in charge of our own process so that we have ownership of our collective future. I will advocate for programs that build capacity for self-governance and help Hawaiian families figure out what they want for themselves.

3.     When it comes to Native Hawaiian issues, what do you perceive your role as a legislator to be? What ways can you, if elected, support Native Hawaiian concerns through your legislative abilities? If elected, describe specific Native Hawaiian bill ideas that you would be willing to propose or support for the advancement of Native Hawaiians.

Native Hawaiian issue or not, my role as a legislator is upholding the rights in our constitution and listening to what our communities are saying – what is working, what isn’t, and what do we need. I will be a steadfast defender of the rights afforded Native Hawaiians in our constitution, and more importantly to the intent of those rights. I will fight to ensure that the state protects the public trust. I will pay attention to what Hawaiian organizations, including OHA, have to say. I recognize that Native Hawaiians are self-organizing, by halau, by hui, by civic club. We are social people and are an able community. As such, I will support the efforts of these groups’ organization and collective action, be it cultural, educational, health, or intellectual pursuits.

In my eyes, the biggest concerns facing the Native Hawaiian community are housing, education, and health care. I will fight to ensure that we have more funding for these areas. I would also like to increase funding to educate others about our state’s history and encourage civic engagement in Hawaiian communities. I would support a standalone Native Hawaiian Cultural Center that celebrates, educates, and promotes our culture in the community. Specifically, I would support Hawaiian language immersion schools, revisit laws governing the maintenance and protection of sacred sites, and work hard to find ways to enable affordable housing and health care. Native Hawaiians have unique needs. I will work with OHA, Queen’s Medical Center, Papa Ola Lokahi and other organizations to identify ways to meet those unique needs.

Aloha!  My name is Keone Nakoa, and I’m running to represent our District 13 in the Hawaii State Senate.

My wife, Stephanie, and I have lived in Nuuanu and Pauoa all our lives and my family has been deeply rooted here for over a century.  My great-grandparents, the Lukes, were very active with the Choy Hung Village Society.  My other great-grand parents, the Akionas, helped build the main roadways through our neighborhood, including Pali Highway.  And three generations of my family have taught at Kaiulani Elementary School.  Indeed, this community is a part of my family and I am wholeheartedly committed to doing what’s best for all of us in District 13.

My parents instilled in me a sense of kuleana to our community at a young age. This was reinforced in school, at Iolani and Harvard, and put into action while working for Senator Akaka. My work experience in the U.S. Senate, the State Capitol, and the State Judiciary stoked my passion for making the government work for the people, not the other way around.  I am especially eager to find ways to better care for our kupuna, to secure resources for public education, and to create new jobs and training that afford hard-working families a good living right here in Hawaii.

I look forward to meeting you as I walk our neighborhoods, and I humbly ask for your support in bringing our community together and building a brighter future for Hawaii.  Mahalo nui loa!