Politics trumps service? Manoa Neighborhood Board denies a resident a seat, complaint filed

Travis Quezon

MANOA—A funny thing happened at the Manoa Neighborhood Board last week, summarized here by Eric Marshall, a Republican candidate for State Senate District 10. As part of its meeting agenda, the board was looking to fill a vacant seat. Zach Thomson, a business owner, Eagle Scout Local Den Leader, father, husband, and Manoa resident approached the board to fill that vacancy. Thing is, Thomson is also a Republican candidate for Manoa’s State House District 24.

The only criteria to serve on the Manoa Neighborhood Board is that you reside in Manoa and are able to attend a monthly meeting held on the first Wednesday of each month. Candidates for elected state office are not prohibited to serve on the board.

However, it was when Thomson disclosed that he was a Republican candidate that opposition came forth from the board.

One of the board’s most vocal opponents to Thomson’s admittance, Marshall said, was Tom Heinrich, a staffer of Democratic Sen. Brian Taniguchi, who represents Manoa, Moiliili, McCully, and Makiki.

Following the vote to not admit Thomson, former board chair Nadine Nishioka, who was present at the meeting, and current member Kimberly Case voiced their “disgust” with the decision to not let Thomson on the board. Case has since filed a complaint with the Board Commission.

Thomson told The Hawaii Independent that he was shocked that the board refused help from someone who just wants to improve Manoa and loan his time and resources to the community. We’ll be following up with the Board Commission’s opinion on the decision.