NAPILI - It's an election year. Politicians are pulling papers; petitions are being signed; and Napili resident Tamara Paltin has stood up and wants to serve as our next mayor.
She's a positive force, young and determined, a 21st century candidate of the digital era.
"I'm not a politician," she claims. Her campaign chest totals only $2.
Tamara Paltin walks with husband George Vierra, son Nahiku Paltin-Vierra and daughter Kalehua Paltin-Vierra.
"I'd like to make a positive difference," the 36-year-old wife and mother-of-two told the Lahaina News.
"Even if I don't win, I'd like to focus on issues that we can work together to solve. I don't want it to be a competition between me and opponent candidates. I'd rather it be like a collaboration. So much money, effort and time is spent on elections. If we were really smart, we would focus this money, time and effort on solving the problems instead of handing it off to one guy."
She is an advocate of a different management style, citing a quote from a favorite source on the Internet: "We're living in times of unprecedented hyper-connectivity, increasing complexity and accelerating change."
"Power in the 21st century," Paltin observed, "is not going to be coming from being in charge, per se, but being connected; no one person is smarter than all of us put together if we aggregate and leverage our collective intelligence towards a shared understanding," using the Maui Island Plan as the guide.
The people own the plan, she said.
"The community worked so hard on it for so long. There's so much good in the general plan. It has been vetted and gone over by the Maui County Council; and we, as a community, need to come together and see how we can meet its objectives."
The key, according to Paltin, is "you gotta involve the public in the decision-making."
"There's no difference be- tween the government and the private sector at all. The rules are universal; it applies all the way around, 360," she advised.
"In the 21st century, you cannot listen to people based on their status. Everybody's the same. With the advent of the Internet, people can find out all the information that you could going to a four-year college. So just because someone never went to college or never left Maui, you can't just assume that they don't know anything. With the Internet today, you can research everything."
Inclusiveness is necessary.
"I would try to involve everybody - not just the old school, not just the new school, not just the locals. That's what mass collaboration is all about. That's what makes you more resilient you can't leave anybody out, because the variety is where the strength comes in," she explained.
The framework for making good decisions, she said, is based on "stewardship over self-interest."
Her campaign slogan is "community based - community driven."
"My platform is community-based economic development. To the core, I am for the environment, but you gotta be more than that if you're talking about the whole county. Community-based economic development is important, because you need economic development. What we don't need is outside countries coming in and directing our economic development. We need to be the ones to determine the direction of our economic growth," she said.
"Within that platform, it encompasses self-sufficiency, sustainability and environmental stewardship."
When confronted with questions about her experience, Paltin has the answers: "Since I moved to Maui in 2001, I've been a county employee; so I have a good knowledge of how the county runs. I have been involved in non-profits and environmental organizations that work with the county, and I have an idea of how the county works from the inside and from the outside or how it doesn't work."
Paltin is a transplant from Hilo, a Cum Laude graduate of Hilo High and Northern Arizona University, with a Bachelor's Degree in Mathematics/Education.
She is a grant writer, self-proclaimed community activist and full-time Ocean Safety Officer for the County of Maui. Her station is at D.T. Fleming Beach Park in Kapalua.
She was named one of The Maui News' "People Who Made a Difference" in 2007.
She is a member of the Hawaii Lifeguard Association, Kahana Canoe Club and E Alu Pu Moving Forward Together Network. She has participated in the activities of the Maui Nui Marine Resource Council. Additionally, she is a Ka Ipu Kukui fellow.
But most know her as president of the Save Honolua Coalition, where her leadership skills have been showcased the past five years.
During her watch, the crusade to save the internationally renowned surfing spot, marine sanctuary and treasured cultural resource was a success.
House Bill 1424 is now state law, signed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie in June of last year, and $20 million was allocated toward the purchase of 280 acres from Honolua Valley to Honokohau, including Lipoa Point.
Paltin is humble and shares the triumph.
"The power of the community prevailed in this particular case. I was able to see firsthand what can happen when the people become educated, empowered and engaged," Paltin said.
To learn more about the Paltin platform, visit her website at www.tamara4mauinui.com. It will be launched in the next few weeks.