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Voting explainer: Hawaiʻi County charter amendment ballot questions

hawaii county seal
County of Hawaiʻi
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Hawaiʻi Public Radio is breaking down each county's charter amendment ballot questions.

Voters on the Big Island have three ballot amendment questions to consider in this year's general election.

Unlike some other counties, the County of Hawaiʻi's charter commission only meets once a decade. In years when it doesn't, like this election cycle, councilmembers still have the option to offer up proposed amendments

Expanding the Duties of the County Auditor
Shall the Hawai'i County Charter be amended to expand the duties of the Office of the County Auditor to include investigating allegations of fraud, waste, or abuse within the operations of the County of Hawai'i?

Last year, the county set up a pilot whistleblower phone line for county employees to anonymously report issues, however, the auditor was limited in what they could look into.

This ballot proposal would give the auditor the ability to investigate allegations of fraud, waste and other abuse when they deem it warrants investigation, not just when it’s pre-determined on an annual agenda.

Councilmember Ashley Kierkiewicz introduced this proposal and worked with the support of corporation counsel and the county's auditor.

Establishing a Youth Commission
Shall the Hawai'i County Charter be amended to establish a Youth Commission, which would consist of at least nine but no more than 15 members between the ages of 14 and 24 years old, whose duties would include advising the Mayor, County Council, and official agencies of the County on legislative and budgetary matters, assess existing programs and advance new programs that support youth development, and encourage and coordinate youth participation in County initiatives and other forms of civic engagement?

This proposal would allow the county to create its own Youth Commission, made up of nine to 15 members. The members, aged 14 to 24, would advise county officials and agencies on programs and legislation that may affect younger generations.

Kierkiewicz, who also introduced this proposal, said she was partially inspired by similar civic-minded programs from her own childhood.

"When you think about it, all the decisions that we're making at the county level, they impact our youth," Kierkiewicz said. "I just want to make sure that youth have a chance to help reflect on some of the decisions that we are going to be making as policymakers because they're going to be having to live with any decision that we make."

Membership for the Board of Ethics
Shall the Hawai'i County Charter be amended to increase the membership of the Board of Ethics from five members to seven members?

This proposal would add two commissions to the county's Board of Ethics. Members serve staggered terms of five years each and enforce the county's code of ethics.

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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 Hawaiʻi 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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