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Rematch for West Maui State House seat

By Staff | Oct 30, 2014


WEST MAUI – Incumbent Democrat Angus McKelvey, 46, faces Republican challenger Chayne Marten in the race for the Tenth District State House seat representing West Maui, Maalaea as well as a small portion of North Kihei.

The contest is a rematch between the two contenders who faced each other in 2012 vying for the same seat. In that race a total of 6,216 ballots were cast. McKelvey received 68.5 percent of the vote compared with 31.5 percent for Marten.

McKelvey was first elected to the seat in 2006 and has been re-elected to it every two years subsequently. In the most recent session of the state legislature, he served as chair of the House Consumer Protection and Commerce Committee and was a member of the House Legislative Management Committee. If re-elected, his committee assignments may change.

In the most recent two-year legislative session, he was a co-sponsor of a bill to increase the state minimum wage and also voted in favor of marriage equality. Both measures passed.

Asked about GMOs (genetically modified organisms) and food labeling issues, he commented, “People need to put their energy on those subjects into influencing decisions at the congressional level. Those are federal issues. That’s where the focus should be.”


MeKelvey sees improvements to the financial stability of Maui Memorial Medical Center as “the number one issue that faces Maui” in the coming legislative session beginning in January 2015. He was optimistic that “some kind of public-private legislation will pass – that would allow better ways to manage the cost side of things.

“Right now,” he observed, “Maui’s hospital finances are ‘on life support’ and will need an emergency appropriation before the end of session. We have to fund it no matter what.” As he sees it, “We have to drag everyone into the room and hammer out a very detailed public-private partnership bill.”

He said he is seeking re-election to “continue critical work for the community.” Issues of concern to him include the next phase of the Lahaina Bypass as well as continued progress on planning for and building a small private hospital in West Maui. Plans call for the new hospital to break ground next year. (This facility is not related to the state-run Maui Memorial Medical Center, which is the island’s only acute care hospital.)

He also mentioned continued improvements to West Maui schools, including Lahainaluna High School, King Kamehameha III Elementary School and Princess Nahienaena Elementary School. The candidate also sees a need to “get the planning back on track” for an additional elementary school for West Maui.

With regard to the bigger picture in Hawaii’s public schools and the state Department of Education, McKelvey commented, “A lot of what you see is the result of the change to an appointed Board of Education. Now we have two insular layers of bureaucracy. In the past, when Honolulu handed down decisions, teachers, administrators and members of the public could nudge or call an elected member and have an impact. Now with appointed members, (those on the board) have no reason to listen.” He favors the return to an elected board.

McKelvey pointed to improvements of the athletic facilities at Lahainaluna High School, state acquisition of property for public use at Honolua Bay, improvements to Lahaina and Maalaea Harbors and Mala Wharf, and a variety of improvements for local schools as accomplishments during his most recent term of office.

“A lot of these project successes are just the first chapter in an ongoing situation,” he said. For example, “with the Bypass, it’s firming up the next segment of funding.”

With Honolua, setting up the governing entities, master planning and access issues with the state Department of Land & Natural Resources are all on the agenda going forward. It’s important to make sure the immediate needs are funded. He is also concerned about the precarious status of the Lahainaluna Boarding Department and bringing the people involved together to turn the situation around. McKelvey thinks it is important to continue the historic boarding program that requires continued emergency funding.

The legislator said he was surprised that the issue that people seemed to want to talk about the most this year related to “bringing the Sugar Cane Train back.” He said that though the train had announced plans to shut down, principals are now in talks with a local hui to continue operation. “People here support the train,” he said, adding that “there might be some good news soon.”

McKelvey characterized himself as a “working legislator” who has continued to work for West Maui even during the months the legislature is not in session. He named the tasks that remain to be done on Honolua Bay and other preservation issues to “slow the willy-nilly development” of the West Side as areas where he plays an important role.

McKelvey was born in Honolulu and raised in Lahaina. He lives in Lahaina and is single. When the legislature is not in session, he works as a part-time graphic design consultant.

He earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science from Whittier College and a Juris Doctor from Concord School of Law. He is the son of the late A.W. “Mac” McKelvey, founder of the Sugar Cane Train. The senior McKelvey played an important role in planning Kaanapali Resort. His mother, Joan McKelvey, is a long-time Lahaina small business owner and community activist.

The candidate is an interim board member of the LahainaTown Action Committee and a past volunteer with that organization. He is also a member of the Lahaina Restoration Foundation, Lahaina Yacht Club and Maalaea Community Association.

McKelvey’s legislative site can be accessed at www.capitol.hawaii.gov/memberpage.aspx?member=mckelvey.

Marten said he is running because “the people need a voice.”

“Unfortunately, our legislators don’t seem to understand the high cost of living in Hawaii; it’s hurting our families. Families are having to make huge sacrifices in order to make ends meet.

“We pay 58 percent more for our food than on the Mainland, and 30 percent of our keiki eat fast food every day. Everything we use is going up in price, except our income.”

Stating “the most important infrastructure is our families,” Marten said the state can help kupuna by eliminating taxes on food and medication, capping real estate property taxes at age 60, and ending taxes on retirement income.

“To assist families, we should offer free breakfast and lunch for those that need it. Children cannot focus on empty stomachs. Assistance to families for school transportation on buses both to and from school would help traffic and take some of the burdens off families,” Marten said.

“My ultimate goal is to help those that need help the most. Overtaxing the people is counter-productive; our legislators are waiting until after the election to raise taxes yet again,” he continued.

“Government needs to get out of the way of our local businesses and stop excessive taxes and regulations that hurt, not help them grow. Before we invite more businesses, we need to support our local entrepreneurs.”

According to Marten, homelessness is a major state issue. “We need to get these people off the streets and address the reasons they got there in the first place,” he said.

Additional issues include the need for affordable housing and rentals, and the thousands of illegal vacation rentals throughout the state.

“Most advertise on the Internet; they shouldn’t be hard to find. If we crack down on them, many affordable rentals will come available as long-term rentals,” Marten said.

“There are those who think development is the answer. Before building thousands of more units, we need to address the fact we have over-crowded public schools, we still don’t have an up and running hospital, we need more parks and safe bike paths. We have infrastructure needs that are not yet in place. Millions of gallons of treated wastewater pour into our ocean every day. These needs should be addressed before more development.”

If elected, Marten pledged to target education and academics, focusing on the individual needs of every student.

“I would redirect school funding in Lahaina to programs that bring positive change and improve education throughout Hawaii. If we want our keiki to flourish academically, we should start with an independent audit of the (Department of Education) and make sure funds are used wisely, giving priority to our local decision-makers, principals and teachers having more authority on how funds are used. Students need air conditioning in the classroom, so they can focus on learning rather than how hot they are,” he said.

Looking at healthcare, Marten said Maui Memorial Medical Center must address the mental and physical health needs of the people.

“In regards to the West Maui Hospital, my only concern is time. Depending on the emergency, we need to know which hospital to take them to. For example, a heart issue would be better to take them to Maui Memorial,” he said.

Marten said the legislature should take up the Jones Act and genetically modified organisms (GMOs), as these issues impact everyone.

“If Monsanto is unwilling to be transparent and lay their cards on the table, that is a huge red flag. I would not be willing to work with anyone that has a hidden agenda and is not willing to put the people first. Last but not least, we need the Superferry back to break the monopoly Matson and Young Brothers has on Hawaii,” he concluded.

Marten attended Bethany Bible College and the Screen Actors Guild Conservatory.

He has been active in the West Maui Taxpayers Association and American Red Cross.

Marten’s political experience includes appointment to the Advisory Council of San Mateo County Board of Supervisors in California.

Statements of his background and views can be found at his campaign website at www.ichayne.com.