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Interesting election food for thought

By Staff | Sep 18, 2014

Major intersections on Maui are hotspots for political signs.

LAHAINA – You cannot drive past any major intersection these days without seeing a dizzying array of political signs for candidates running for election.

The 2014 election is easily the most interesting in years, with two

longtime former County Council members trying to defeat the councilors who succeeded them, candidates for mayor arrested, and sentiment by some that elected officials who have served a long time should be kicked out of office.

Sen. Roz Baker, among the most experienced and savvy politicians here representing her district, faced criticism that she had served too long. Yet quite a few voters thought council members who reached term limits of eight years should be returned to the council after a required two-year absence.

The contradiction is just another example of the view that if something makes sense on Maui, we do just the opposite.

Baker is the rare public servant who is heavily involved in the community – active in the West Maui Relay for Life and Women Helping Women when not away in Honolulu. She is also not afraid “to get her hands dirty,” being the only public official who helped the Maui Friends of the Library pack books before it renovated Lahaina Public Library.

Baker has been highly effective, getting us a new high school in Kihei. She is so knowledgeable about state matters that she can give three speeches and talk about entirely different topics on all three (Rotary, Soroptimists). In a word, she is highly effective.

In contrast, quite a few voters appear to be for four-term councilmen

Joe Pontanilla and Mike Molina, even though on the council, they have not been very effective. Go figure…

GETTING OUT THE VOTE: The saddest news is we don’t vote in large numbers. We get public officials we deserve sometimes with a poor result. West Maui and Maui in general have the lowest percentage of people voting in the state.

Is there a solution? Just maybe. The Maui News could play a big role if it took three steps. First, it could make it easier for people to vote by printing sample ballots several days before elections, like many Mainland papers do. Second, it could also wage a get-out-the-vote campaign. Next, it could print its especially well-done election special section before absentee voting starts and not after.

The state election people could help by eliminating the small piece of paper people get when they vote and substituting a “I voted… have you?” sticker that could be applied to clothes.

The West Maui Taxpayers Association could contribute by doing two things. First, it could rejuvenate and more effectively promote a voting campaign, and it could hold more candidate forums before and after the


It could take its cue from the new Rotary Club of Lahaina Sunset, which before the primary hosted Elle Cochran and Ka’ala Buenconsejo – opponents this fall – for the West Maui County Council seat, as well as Rick Nava for fast-paced questioning on all the issues developed by this columnist.

The new Rotary Club is doing it again on Oct. 7, with mayoral candidate Tamara Paltin appearing with Mayor Alan Arakawa.

Paltin is highly intelligent – she had the smarts to go beyond most of us and get a college degree in mathematics of all things. Arakawa has been a frequent visitor to West Maui, cares about our community and has undertaken a vast number of new projects to improve quality of life.

Paltin says she is running to highlight issues important to her.

Arakawa is running because he wants to run the county again.

Columnist’s Notebook: This is the first of a series of commentaries that will appear on the election based on numerous conversations the columnist has had with most of the candidates mentioned above.