Big Island down to one state Land Board member

  • CHRISTOPHER YUEN
  • STANLEY ROEHRIG

Nominations announced Monday by Gov. David Ige will leave Hawaii Island with only one member on the state Board of Land and Natural Resources.

Christopher Yuen was re-appointed to the board and is moving from an at-large seat to the Hawaii County seat, where he will replace Hilo attorney Stanley Roehrig, who resigned his seat. Yuen’s term will end June 30, 2022.

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The 80-year-old Roehrig said he will spend more time with his family, and his wife, Jan, “will be thrilled.”

“I have served in public life in Hilo for a period of a quarter of a century … and it has been a wonderful experience,” Roehrig said. “I appreciate the public’s confidence … especially the people from this island and the people from East Hawaii.”

Yuen and Roehrig were holdover board members after their four-year terms expired June 30, 2018. Both were appointed by former Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

“I want to thank Gov. Ige for his confidence for holding me over all this time,” Roehrig said.

That public experience includes starting at 27 as a deputy county attorney, then working in the Public Defender’s office before becoming a member of the state House of Representatives for eight years, where he chaired the Agriculture and Judiciary committees. Roehrig also served on the University of Hawaii Board of Regents for three years and the state Land Use Commission for four years before taking the Hawaii Island seat on the Land Board on July 1, 2014.

The 67-year-old Yuen was born and raised in Hilo. He operates an organic farm north of Hilo, growing lychees and bananas. He’s also an attorney and served as Hawaii County Planning Director from 2000-08, and he previously served on the state Land Board from 1990-98. Through the years he has been involved in several campaigns to preserve coastal open space, including in Keaukaha, Kalapana, Makalawena, Awakee, Kekaha Kai Park and Kohanaiki.

Yuen is married to Noelie Rodriguez and they have two grown daughters.

“I’m grateful to Gov. Ige for allowing me to continue on the board, working with the Department of Land and Natural Resources, the key agency for the protection and wise use of our environment and natural resources,” Yuen said.

Wesley “Kaiwi” Yoon was appointed to fill the at-large seat Yuen vacates. The 44-year-old Yoon is vice president of operations, planning and project management at the Bishop Museum. Prior to his current position, Yoon worked for the DLNR from 2015-18 and served two terms on the Legacy Land Conservation Commission from 2007-14.

Also appointed to an at-large seat was Vernon Char, 84, a Honolulu attorney, replacing Keith “Keone” Downing who left the board April 29. Char’s term will end June 30, 2021.

Char was president of the Hawaii Bar Association and served a three-year term on the Board of Governors of the American Bar Association. He was a member of BLNR in 2014-15 and also served on other state boards including the Hawaii Tourism Authority and the Hawaii State Ethics Commissions. He helped found the University of Hawaii Alumni Association and served as its president in 1989. He received the association’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 1992.

Char was appointed to his previous term by Abercrombie.

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All three nominations are subject to confirmation by the state Senate.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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