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Voting explainer: Kauaʻi County charter amendment ballot questions

kauai county seal
Kauaʻi County
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Hawaiʻi Public Radio

Hawaiʻi Public Radio is breaking down each county's charter amendment ballot questions.

Kauaʻi County residents will face four ballot amendment questions on this year's general election ballot.

Charter Review Commission Vice Chair Jan TenBruggencate said it takes time to create a charter amendment.

“Some of the topics are slam dunks,” TenBruggencate said. “You know, they seem pretty reasonable. Others are complicated, and others have conflicting proposals.”

Among the four amendment questions, topics range from county salaries to special elections.

Relating to Prosecutor Vacancy
Shall the County Charter be amended to require that future elections for Prosecuting Attorney occur at the same time as the County's regularly scheduled elections?

Late last year, when long-time prosecutor Justin Kollar left office, the county had to hold its own election. That ended up costing the county more than $250,000 for just a low 25% voter turnout. This charter amendment creates a line of succession for the county’s prosecutor.

Relating to Electric Power Authority
Shall the Charter be amended to remove Article 30 which allows the County Council to create an electric power corporation?

This housekeeping amendment is connected to the county’s long history with Kauaʻi Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC). Before KIUC, a part of the charter would have allowed the county to create its own electric company. According to proponents of this amendment, the removal of this provision in the charter would essentially be a vote of confidence in KIUC’s work.

Relating to Salary Commission
Shall the Charter be amended to give the Salary Commission the authority to establish the maximum salary for elected and appointed officials?

As it currently stands the county’s volunteer Salary Commission recommends the wages for elected and appointed officials. Then, those proposals go to the county council for approval. What’s happened in the past is that council members wouldn’t raise the wages as a political move. This has led to officials like the mayor and council members on Kauaʻi having some of the lowest set wages for these types of positions in the state.

This ballot measure would give the Salary Commission full authority to establish the maximum salary for elected and appointed officials.

Relating to Surety Bonds
Shall the Charter be amended by removing the portion of section 19.17 that requires surety bonds for certain officers and employees?

This question asks residents to decide whether the county should remove a portion of the charter that would require the county to have specific surety bonds for certain employees. A “yes” to this question would allow the county the flexibility to determine how it handles its insurance.

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Voters can expect to receive ballots in the mail in mid-October. Voting will close at 7 p.m. on Nov. 8.

Here's how the charter amendment questions will appear on your Kauaʻi County ballot. Read below or click here to open a new window.

Sabrina Bodon is a general assignment reporter at Hawaiʻi Public Radio. Contact her at sbodon@hawaiipublicradio.org or 808-792-8252.
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