The first of two KCAÂ events concerning the 9/18/10 Primary election received an enthusisatic response from the community and the candidates at the Community Center, as all but three of the invited candidates participated in the speed dating format, providing everyone with a one on one opportunity with every candidate for mayor, County Council, Dist 11 State Rep and the Board of Education. Media participation was also heightened, as beyond our faithful Maui Weekly coverage, Maui News reporter and photographer were busy, as was the video of Maui TV News.
From the Maui Weekly..
Candidates Vie for South Maui Votes
Contenders quick to address concerns in their race to the primaries. â€œOverall, I believe weâ€™ve got to get the county out of the way of small businesses.â€
Trisha Smith, Maui Weekly
Nothing resonates campaign season quite like colorful political swag and bustling candidates working a room of potential constituents.
Among the festive fliers, personal notepads, gummy bears and supportive campaign team members decorating the Kihei Community Center (KCC) on Tuesday, Aug. 17, were nearly 100 concerned Maui voters looking for answers at the Kihei Community Association (KCA) meeting.
Eleven mayoral candidates and several Maui County Council contenders attended the â€œspeed-datingâ€ event, where they were divided into groups by seat raceâ€”with the prospective mayors divvied up in three sections. Each had a chance to answer questions posed by eight groups of voters and moderated by KCA members.
Several seasoned politicians and long-time community leaders showed up with their â€œhomeworkâ€ done, while some less-experienced individuals stumbled during the rapid-fire question-and-answer sessions.
One candidateâ€”who chose to remain anonymousâ€”revealed to me later their â€œutter disgustâ€ with this yearâ€™s voter options and disliked how the fast-paced meeting was set up. â€œIâ€™m tired of sitting around, listening to these people next to me lie, lie, lie,â€ the candidate said. â€œThis is monkey businessâ€¦ people deserve the truth and not one-line â€˜answers.â€™â€
An array of topics were brought forth by concerned citizens, with several questions posed regarding water, agricultural viability, Jesse Spencerâ€™s â€˜Ohana Kai Village project in Maâ€˜alaea, home-based small businesses, the â€œantiquatedâ€ permitting and zoning process, and the controversial Honuaâ€˜ulaâ€”the Wailea 670 project in the Kihei-Makena Community Plan.
A group of mayoral hopefuls, which included Randy Plitz, Marc Hodges, Jonathan Olson and Harold â€œHapâ€ Miller, provided a persuasive mix throughout the night.
â€œAs your next mayor, I will work hard on developing reliable water storage, housing and growing system,â€ said Plitz. â€œBut water is definitely the No. 1 issue we need to deal with.â€
â€œI think we need to reinvent the visitor industry,â€ said Hodges. The fresh-faced candidateâ€”who sports the â€œNew Bloodâ€ sloganâ€”shared his long list of occupations including police officer, â€œpublished scientistâ€ with expertise in Hawaiian natural resource protection, â€œsuccessfulâ€ small business entrepreneur, carpenter and cabinetmaker.
â€œAnd we have got to change the current permitting and zoning systems,â€ Hodges said, suggesting in his platform that applicants should require the county to issue building permits in 10 days for single-family projects under $150,000.
â€œAll-in-all, Iâ€™ve been through four recessions, and this one isnâ€™t any worse,â€ said Miller, sporting a festive America Flag tie and an ardent attitude.
Political newcomer and mayoral candidate Sally Chow Hammond of Molokaâ€˜i added interesting flare to the meeting, providing confident rebuttals among long-time Maui leaders, but also becoming so emotional at one point that she left the KCC.
After the meeting, former mayor and current candidate Alan Arakawa continued to sound-off about his opponents. He revealed his frustrations with Mayor Charmaine Tavaresâ€™ administration, asserting â€œshe continues to lieâ€ about budget figures, and that her policies are â€œharmfulâ€ to the countyâ€™s small business community.
â€œWeâ€™re going to do it from experience,â€ said Arakawa, confident that his â€œpeopleâ€ will soon be back in office to â€œfixâ€ the county. And according to Arakawa, heâ€™s going to do this with â€œaround 15 or soâ€ less staff members than Mayor Tavaresâ€™ current 48.
â€œOverall, I believe weâ€™ve got to get the county out of the way of small businesses,â€ said South Maui council candidate Don Couch during one group, referencing the â€œsign issueâ€ brought forth recently. â€œThese sign ordinances are really old, and thereâ€™s such a grey areaâ€¦ it needs to be more specific so owners can comply and still be successful.â€
The community has another opportunity to talk with the candidates this Saturday, Aug. 28, after the Tour de Kihei bicycle ride. The ride begins at 9 a.m. at Kamaâ€˜ole III Beach Park and continues north along South Kihei Road to Lipoa Avenue, then riders travel back after a hydration break. The South Maui candidates will be available for a meet-and-greet with the community after the ride as they attempt to secure your votes for the Primary Election on Saturday, Sept. 18.
For more information, call 879-5390 or visit www.gokihei.org.