The History of Hawai‘i From Our Files: Want to Get Elected on O‘ahu?

HONOLULU Magazine emerged from predecessor Paradise of the Pacific, which began in 1888, fulfilling a commission by King Kalākaua. That makes it the oldest continuously published magazine west of the Mississippi, with an enviable archive worth diving into each month. Here’s a look back at April 1977.


The History of Hawai‘i From Our Files: Want to Get Elected on O‘ahu?


Want to run for your local neighborhood board? If you did 45 years ago (and still today), you stood a pretty good chance of being elected. In Honolulu, the neighborhood board system, which relies on members of the community who are interested in grassroots democracy, is about as close to the sod as you can get.


Since the elections are held in odd-numbered years, you’d have time to think about the issues and plan your campaign, although vacancies can occur anytime; check to see about openings. In 1977, HONOLULU makes the pitch that getting involved in the community via the neighborhood board system offers a constructive means of participating in democracy in a way that harks back to the American dream. Back then there were 12 boards across O‘ahu; now there are 36 across O‘ahu. The article’s author was Peggy Kehoe Buchwach, a member of the Kuli‘ou‘ou/Kalani Iki Neighborhood Board at the time (as well as the wife of the irrepressible Buck Buchwach, then-executive editor of The Honolulu Advertiser).


Buchwach makes the case that the town-hall-style meetings allow members to have more of a say in what happens close to home, even if the boards are advisory. The boards both provide insight into the nuts and bolts of each community and are often launching pads for folks who aspire to political careers and higher offices with even more say. In 2020, the pandemic opened the way to remote participation; community members can also watch meetings as well as watching online via public access TV. Others sign up for newsletters and meeting notices to stay tuned without attending every meeting.


SEE ALSO: A Record Turnout for Hawai‘i’s First All By-Mail Ballot Serves Up an Exciting, Sleep-Deprived (Yet Satisfying) Good Time


From Our Files Covers April 2022 1024x512

Learn more about the evolution of covers in HONOLULU Magazine and Paradise of the Pacific: 125 Years of Covers, available at



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