Candidates for mayor state views in fast-paced exchange
LAHAINA – One of the luxuries of a column is you can go in-depth more than in a news story.
In a candidate forum sponsored by the new Rotary Club of Lahaina Sunset, Mayor Alan Arakawa and opponent Tamara Paltin squared off in a fast-paced “Q&A” session helpful to those who will do their civic duty and vote Nov. 4.
Mayor Arakawa, a Maui High School graduate who attended the University of Hawaii, began his 30-year career in county government as a wastewater plant worker. Elected to the County Council in 1994 after serving as a supervisor in the Department of Public Works, Arakawa has served two terms as mayor from 2003-07 and 2011-14.
Paltin, a Hilo High School graduate with a degree in mathematics and education from Northern Arizona University, has been a county water safety officer for 13 years. One of the founders of the Save Honolua Coalition and executive director and president since 2009, Paltin was active in the county General Plan update process and as a union representative in the Hawaii Government Employees Association.
In his opening remarks, Arakawa said, “Maui County is very diverse.
“My aspiration as a leader is to understand all aspects… I have been visiting (places) for decades. There are many difficult challenges. We want to move forward on (restoring) Moku’ula (a sacred Hawaiian site in Lahaina). We bought land at Launiupoko to create a Pali to Puamana Parkway.” We are focusing on Civil Defense in the event of a tsunami.
“I grew up on a family farm. We learned very early what hard work is.” As mayor, I am up at 7 a.m. and to bed at 12 or 1 a.m. … “You need to know how the police work… “You have to deal with the state. That takes years of understanding. Our budget is $600 million, and you have to understand the timetable. “The county has a top bond rating.
I have “three priorities: 1) To acquire a lot of property for preservation and to develop ball fields and sports complexes. I want to triple the amount of facilities. 2) Build more county facilities, so that we do not have to rent. 3) Try to look at all the basic infrastructure. Nothing is perfect.”
Paltin, in her opening remarks, said, “I am running because I love Maui Nui, and that county government can do much better. … “I am a leader who will help us change the status quo.”
“I want my children and future generations to be able to grow up enjoying (this place).” We need to transition into the 21st century. I want all the children to be able to enjoy good- paying jobs.
“Our mayor has not shown the leadership, integrity and creativity needed to help Maui County thrive. He has not worked to fix problems. Infrastructure has to keep up with population growth.” People from keiki to kupuna need to be included in decision-making.
One of my main priorities would be “no interruption of county services. It is more important to be transparent and collaborative than in control.” No one person is smarter than all of us put together.
“I will raise morale of county employees by listening to their concerns and addressing long-term problems.”
(Next week, the candidates answer ten questions about West Maui and their plans, if elected.)