Maui County residents will be casting ballots for state representatives, county councilmembers, Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustees and seven county charter amendments.
With so many options on the ballot, Hawaii Public Radio asked Maui County voters what issues mattered most to them.
“I think an issue that lawmakers need to adjust is the sad state of Hawaii’s shoreline marine resources,” John in Kahului said.
“Food security and freshwater availability, I'm hoping that our new administration's will begin to work together to create jobs,” said Debra from Maui’s Northshore.
“The number one issue on Maui is its economy and culture,” Andrew O'Riordan in Napili said.
O'Riordan wants to vote for candidates who will prioritize the economic needs of Maui County residents.
“Now that COVID has wiped out tourist demand, there’s widespread unemployment, a lot of people are not sure how to put together their bills each month,” he said. “The really core issue for Maui is how to diversify and broaden your economy. So it serves the people of Maui, and so it's balanced. So there continues to be opportunity for locals and residents to build a life on their home island.”
Voters will have the opportunity to choose lawmakers at the state and county levels who can address these issues.
However, beyond individual candidates, Tony Takitani, a former state representative, noted that county charter amendments often are overlooked, although they can have long-lasting effects.
“I don't think that people of Maui are any different than anybody in Hawaii. I don’t think people really pay attention to amendments,” he said.
“It's oftentimes a very difficult question with very many complexities involved in an issue like this. So I don't think it's anything that is properly examined, discussed, or, for that matter, shared what are the real reasons behind some of these things.”
One proposal would create the position of county manager who would take over many of the mayor’s operational duties.
“It's not common at all to change the structure of government,” Takitani said.
The mayor would hire the manager with approval from the county council chair and a three-member citizen group. The manager would then run the day-to-day operations of the county.
Those duties would include overseeing the paving of roads and the water system and even appointing department directors.
Other charter amendments would tighten the term limits for council members and the mayor. The amendment would make it so a person who has termed out could not return two years later and run for that same position again.
The proposed charter amendments can be found on the Maui County website.
Voters statewide should be getting their mail-in ballots in the next week or so. However, those who have not received them by October 16th should notify their county office of elections.
Maui County residents who need a ballot can call County Clerk Kathy Kahou at (808) 270-7749.