It’s that time again. Time to take stock of America, think about the challenges facing this great nation, look deep into our hearts and decide which person who probably didn’t get enough parental affirmation when he or she was an infant should write our laws and stand around like they actually run the place.
It’s Election Time! Woohoo!
Of course, we understand if you want to keep the cheering to a minimum. We live in tough times. Unemployment is high, wages are stagnant, the climate is going haywire, drug-resistant bacteria is on the rise, the Drug War is wasting billions of dollars, the war in Afghanistan is a bloody fiasco and our own government is spying on us (but won’t tell us how much because it’s a secret, and says we can’t sue to stop it because we can’t prove the spying is going on, because it’s secret). Next year, regardless of who wins the presidential election, taxes will go up, government spending will crash and the slim growth we’ve seen this year will likely come tumbling back down.
And that’s just the nation. Here on Maui, massive development projects are springing up at a time when fresh water sources are drying up. Traffic is getting worse, housing prices are rising again and though record numbers of tourists are flocking here, they don’t seem to be spending money beyond the borders of their respective resorts.
So get out there and vote! Look, if you don’t want to vote, that’s cool. Just keep the complaining to a minimum if things don’t go your way. Because when you don’t vote, you lose your voice.
To make things easier for you, we’ve taken the liberty of endorsing candidates and ballot measures. After great consideration, long hours spent reading and the flipping of not one but several coins (okay, we jest: we read, at most, an hour), we now present our choices for who should be running everything. (Note: We’re not including races where Maui County Council incumbents are running unopposed and are basically already elected–Bob Carroll, Elle Cochran, Mike White, Riki Hokama.)
Talk about a depressing race. Yeah, we guess Democrat incumbent Barack Obama has done an okay job, but to think that we have to overlook a miserable eight percent unemployment rate, the prolonging of the unwinnable war in Afghanistan, the absolutely unconstitutional targeting of American suspected terrorists by drone missiles, the mindless prosecution of the Drug War and a massive increase in spying against Americans by the National Security Agency. Then there’s Republican Mitt Romney, who’s a member of that feudal clique of rich guys who have somehow convinced themselves that government spending that benefits poor people is immoral and the best thing we can all do is lower their (the rich peoples’) tax rates, which are already pretty low, historically. The bonus with him is that we doubt he’s ever truly believed in anything, beyond that which might increase his share of wealth and power.
Look, if you want to waste your vote on one of these jokers, go for it. It’s still sorta a free country. But there are other legitimate candidates out there advocating actual platforms that reflect real issues affecting Americans. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate, wants to end the Drug War, the war in Afghanistan and the whole federal government’s incessant spying on American citizens (to say nothing of those beyond unconstitutional drone attacks). Of course, he also wants to do away with Obama’s health care reform (the incumbent’s only real plus, though it is fairly weak by our standards). That’s why we’re throwing our inconsiderable weight behind Green Party candidate Jill Stein. She pretty much agrees with Johnson on the Drug War and national security stuff, but she wants more health care reform, not less.
Talk about an easy call. Democrat Mazie Hirono has been in office since 2006, and seems to be doing a fine job. She’s very liberal–way to the left of President Obama, to be honest–which provides a nice contrast to the caveman views on war, abortion, climate change and immigration that seem to affect American politics today. Also, and this is a big point, she is not her challenger–Republican Linda Lingle–whose eight years as Hawaii governor can only be considered a success if you ignore the disastrous Superferry, Furlough Fridays and her craven trash-canning of the civil unions bill.
U.S. House of Representatives, District 2
Yes, count us among the many who worried that liberal, pro-same-sex marriage Tulsi (Democrat) was just a Trojan Horse for her gay-baiting state Senator dad Mike (who used to be a Republican but is now a Democrat). But an EMILY’s List endorsement and her personal assurance to us (in the form of a Tweet) that she does indeed feel that same-sex couples have a right to get married have secured our support. As for Republican challenger Kawika Crowley, that dude needs to stay in politics, perhaps running for some Hawaii Island county council seat or something. Seriously, people like that need to stay in the public eye.
State Senate, District 6
We’re all supposed to love and support Democrat Roz Baker, right? By our count, she’s won seven elections so far with just one loss, which is pretty damned impressive. A moderate who enjoys considerable support from the island’s organized labor groups, she’s reliable and effective (also, pro-gun and pro-smoking groups hate her, and that’s fine by us). As for Republican Bart Mulvihill, he told The Maui News four years ago (during his first attempt to grab Baker’s seat) that his having sold “2,000 cars” was one of his qualifications for office.
State House, District 10
Democrat Angus McKelvey has been in office since 2006, and he seems to have grown into an effective legislator who genuinely wants to do well for his district by bringing more clean energy and high-tech industries to Maui and Hawaii. As for his opponent, Republican (but actually non-partisan) Chayne Marten, who ran for the same seat back in 2010, we just don’t see a lot of fresh ideas.*
State House, District 11
Republican incumbent George Fontaine is a nice guy, but he’s not a strong legislator (an ex-cop, he couldn’t even spell “sheriff” correctly on his own website). But we’ll be honest: Ing was not our first choice for a replacement. That honor went to Boys & Girls Club exec Colin Hanlon, but he lost badly in the primary election. While we had no problem with Ing’s vehement opposition to the proposed Kihei Mega Malls (though we have to admit, of all of Maui’s towns, Kihei’s long history of poor planning and general ugliness make it ideal for a mega-anything), we were concerned about his youth and the amount of time he’s actually spent in the district. Going back over a few news articles about him have greatly reassured us, though we reserve the right to smack him around in the future if he messes up.
State House, District 12
Democrat Kyle Yamashita has held this office since 2005. He doesn’t chair any committees, and doesn’t seem to be much of a presence in either the Legislature or county. Republican Ekolu Kalama is a stand up paddler and musician with no prior political experience. Back in July he told the Molokai Dispatch that his main goal is to (as the newspaper put it), “resurrect the constitutional monarchy that was overthrown by the U.S. in the late 1800s.”
State House, District 13
Let’s see if we have this straight. Democrat Mele Carroll, who has held this office since 2006, has time to run for reelection but not for telling voters where she gets her campaign contributions (she’s been repeatedly–as in many times–scolded and sanctioned and fined by the state Campaign Spending Commission for missing campaign finance reporting deadlines), and she’s running against Republican Simon S. Russell, who has no political experience but wants to do things like pass “Legislation mandating labeling GMOs” (good) and “Legislation banning spraying our atmosphere without an EIS” (not so good). We’re just going to pass on this one.
Maui County Council: Wailuku-Waihee-Waikapu
Sigh. Mike Victorino is still the incumbent, still the best friend of Maui’s unions and land developers and still (Dodger!) Shane Victorino’s dad, and for a lot of people on Maui, that’s enough. But Victorino has always struck us as being someone who ran for office because of what he could be, rather than what he could do. Now challenger Joseph G. Blackburn III is a former firefighter and police officer, but he also has a good side (kidding! Hey, you think churning out these endorsements is easy?). In fact, Blackburn recently did something that shocked us: he wrote a letter to the editor of The Maui News apologizing to voters for giving out bad information during a candidates forum. On Oct. 18, the paper published the letter. When was the last time you saw a politician do that? We can’t ignore integrity like that.
Maui County Council: Kahului
Again, we have to pass. Alan (Al) Fukuyama is a small businessman who failed to win County Council seat representing Lahaina in 2008 and 2010, and is now trying his luck at this open seat. We think he should try something else entirely. Don S. Guzman is an attorney and former prosecutor who has lined up bipartisan backing from the island’s political powerhouses (both the ILWU and Sierra Club Maui endorsed him) and Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa, planner Chris Hart, planning firm Frampton & Ward, former Prosecuting Attorney Ben Acob, current county Finance Director Danny Agsalog, consultant firm Araki-Regan & Associates, developer Stanford Carr and builder Chad Goodfellow have all donated money to his campaign.
Maui County Council: South Maui
We’re giving Don Couch the nod, not because we approve of his votes (he sides with developers on issues like the Maui Island Plan Urban Growth Boundaries far more than we find comfortable) but because he’s good at being a council member and gives his constituents a fair shake. On this one, we’ll agree to disagree. As for Alana Kay, his opponent, she wants to bring “innovation, efficiency and honesty” to Maui County government. She uses intriguing buzzwords, but lacks political acumen and administrative experience. That she’s also a “spiritual medium” is interesting, but not why we’re giving her a pass.
Maui County Council: Upcountry
The public employee unions and land developers who hold the power on Maui love incumbent Gladys Coelho Baisa, and they always will. Libertarian Richard H. Pohle has all the makings of a great candidate–how many retired physicists do you know running for office?–but he’s unfortunately running on just one issue: ending the Upcountry Meter List, which he says discriminates against small landowners trying to develop their property and prevents “distributed growth.” Pohle may be onto something with the meter list controversy, but council members have to deal with a wide variety of issues.
Maui County Council: Molokai
Here’s another tough race, but for the pleasant fact that both candidates are unique and capable and contribute to Molokai’s community in different, extremely helpful ways. Stacy Helm Crivello is the executive director of the island’s Hale Ho‘okupa‘a Substance Abuse Treatment Center. Wilson (Manuwai) Peters is a respected kumu and founder of Hawaiian Language Immersion Program (HLIP). It’s a close call, but Crivello’s practical experience is just too valuable to ignore.
OHA Hawai Resident Trustee
We don’t know enough about the Hawaii Island candidates–Robert K. Lindsey, William (Willy) Meyers and Edwin L.P. Miranda–to make an informed endorsement in this race.
OHA Kauai Resident Trustee
We don’t know enough about the Kauai candidates–Dan Ahuna, Keola Alalem Worthington, Liberta Hussey Albao, Jackie Kahookele Burke, Kanani Kagawa Fu, Haunani Pacheco, Sharon A. Pomroy, Ronson K. Sahut, D. Kaliko Santos, Billy Kealamaikahiki Swain and Leland K. (Radar) Yadao–to make an informed endorsement in this race.
OHA Molokai Resident Trustee
Even though there’s just one candidate–incumbent Colette (Piipii) Machado–we don’t know enough about her to make an informed endorsement in this race.
OHA At Large Trustee
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs is one of those background institutions that most people have heard of but few can explain. Put simply, OHA administers community grants and low interest loans to Kanaka Maoli seeking a better life. The office studies issues pertinent to them, and lobbies the legislature. There are a variety of candidates running for the at large seat, but only one clear choice. Haunani Apoliona is the incumbent trustee. Keli‘i Akina is a minister. Cal Lee is a former assistant coach at the University of Hawaii. Lancelot Haili Lincoln is a bit of a mystery–even the League of Women Voters didn’t have any information on him in their exhaustive candidate run-down, though they did have a picture of him wearing a jaunty hat. Keali‘i J. Makekau is a condo site manager in Honolulu. Most are probably satisfactory candidates, but we have to go the last candidate, Walter Ritte. He helped found OHA back in the 1970s, and served on its first board of trustees. But these days he’s a wild card who takes his slow growth activism on Molokai seriously (and he has the criminal convictions to prove it). He’ll bring life to the OHA board in ways no one can really predict.
OHA Maui Trustee
When Judge Boyd Mossman resigned his Maui OHA seat early this year, Governor Neil Abercrombie appointed Carmen Hulu Lindsey, a realtor, to the seat on an interim basis. At first, she promised not to run in November, but then changed her mind. The result is a crowded race filled with familiar names. Johanna Kuulei Shin Amorin is a small business owner and former Maui Planning Commissioner. Doreen Pua Gomes, who won the ILWU’s endorsement, is a former telephone company worker and Maui Police Commissioner (today she sits on the Maui Fire and Public Safety Commission). Former Maui County Councilman Dane Pomaika‘i Kane is, well, former Maui County Councilman Dain Kane. Keeaumoku Kapu is a longtime activist from Lahaina. Glenn G. Au is a Wailuku resident and political unknown. But it’s Rose Duey who has our vote. The executive director of the Olowalu Cultural Reserve, Duey is backed by the Sierra Club’s Maui chapter. She’s dedicated and above reproach.
STATE CONSTITUTIONAL AND COUNTY CHARTER AMENDMENTS
And now we come to most dismal part of the election: ballot measures. Actually, it’s easy. All you do is get a copy of the ballot, read over the various measures until your eyes glaze over, then get a copy of the actual amendment language, which you then read over until you lose consciousness, and then when you wake up you glance over this article, taking note of where we put the YESs and NOs, and then you go vote. So what are you waiting for?
STATE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS
1. Relating to Dams and Reservoirs
Most of the dams in Hawaii are privately owned. This amendment, influenced by the 2006 Ka Loko Dam disaster on Kauai that killed six people, would allow dam owners access to special taxpayer-back bonds to help fund any maintenance and repair their dams need. The state, which still has to inspect the dams, would now put the taxpayers on the hook for funding their maintenance, but the dams themselves would stay in private hands. That doesn’t sound prudent to us.
2. Relating to Retired Judges
This amendment, introduced by Maui’s own Senator Roz Baker, would keep the state’s retirement age for judges at 70, but allow retired judges to return for “interim duty” (not more than three months) at their old court, should the need arise. Given the overcrowded nature of courts these days, this seems more than justified.
MAUI COUNTY CHARTER AMENDMENTS (Proposed by the Maui County Charter Commission)
1. Council Terms
This would lengthen County Council terms of office from two years to four, and limit councilmembers to three consecutive terms. Actually, we like the requirement that councilmembers come back for approval every two years. It helps with accountability. And since we really hate term limits (people should get the chance to vote for whoever they want), this one’s easy to say no to.
2. Ocean Rescue and Safety
This moves county lifeguards over to the Department of Fire and Public Safety. Well, duh.
3. County Auditor
If this passes, the county has to establish an independent Office of the County Auditor, which would have “full, free, and unrestricted access to any county officer or employee and shall be authorized to examine and inspect any record of any agency or operation of the county, to administer oaths and subpoena witnesses.” Imagine–an actual auditor, going over the books of any and all county departments, including the Police Department and the Department of Liquor Control. It’s about time.
4. Interactive Communication
This would allow residents of Hana, Lanai and Molokai a chance to testify at Maui County Council meetings through interactive video. Considering how much it would cost people who live in those areas to testify, this is very reasonable.
5. Charter Revision Publication
Amendments like this one make it easy to explain why more people don’t vote. This amendment would add a new section to the county charter “to require that the Maui County Charter be revised and published to include all new significant amendments adopted.” Seriously? We have to take time to vote on that? Okay, sure, whatev.
6. Council Residency Requirement
This amendment increases the residency requirement from 90 days to one year for someone who wants to run for the Maui County Council. Like term limits, residency requirements are undemocratic. Someone can be born and spend a lifetime on Maui and still have no idea how be an effective legislator, whereas someone who just moved here can learn the ropes and start representing the constituents like it was second nature. If voters don’t want someone who just moved here to represent them on the council, then they shouldn’t vote for them.
7. Mayor Residency Requirement
This is the same as Number 6 above, but for those running for mayor. Again, no.
8. Environmental Management
This amendment would add “Guide efforts to optimize opportunities for environmental, natural resource protection, sustainability, conservation, and restoration” to the list of duties for the county’s Director of Environmental Management. Silly us–we foolishly assumed such an office already required such action, so yes.
9. Annual Evaluation
Right now, there are four county departments–Liquor Control, Police, Fire/Public Safety and Personnel–in which their directors answer not to the Maui County Mayor, but to a special appointed commission. This amendment (even Charter Commissioner Dave DeLeon has called it “arcane”) would bring “consistency” (again, DeLeon’s word) to the process of hiring, reviewing and firing these directors. Seems right to us.
SURE, WHY NOT
This amendment adds language to the County Charter’s preamble stating something to the effect that the people of the county understand and respect their unique heritage in Hawaii and want to carry out the Hawaii state motto, “Ua Mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono” (The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness).
MAUI COUNTY CHARTER AMENDMENT (Proposed by the Maui County Council)
1. Unexpired Term
This one, which is rather technical, is actually quite simple. As things stand now, if a person fills a vacancy on the Maui County Council, then that portion of the term of office counts towards that member’s eventual term limit. This amendment would change that, allowing any portion of an unexpired term filled by a new member not to count towards the term limit. We like this, but only because we hate term limits.
* This article originally misidentified McKelvey’s Republican opponent.