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LETTERS for October 21 issue

By Staff | Oct 21, 2010


The Nov. 2 General Election is right around the corner, and many of you have already received your absentee ballot. Nevertheless, I would like to take a moment and remind each of you that no matter where you live, you are able to vote in all County Council races, including West Maui, where I am running.

There are many choices this election season, but the most important is the choice to vote and participate in our democratic process. Never give up your right to vote, because together, we can build a government that we can trust and believe in to improve our lives. I wish all candidates the best of luck, and I hope you will go out and cast your ballot because every vote truly does count!



Although I did not endorse a candidate for the West Maui County Council seat in the Primary Election, looking forward to the General Election, I am honored to support Elle Cochran as the person who I would choose as my successor.

When Elle approached me several years ago about running for a seat on the Maui County Council, she fully disclosed her past history to me, including events recently discussed on the front page of The Maui News. I advised her that as long as there was no legal issue prohibiting her from seeking office, she should most certainly pursue her dream of public service.

I believe that having successfully faced such challenges, Elle is a more compassionate and caring person toward others facing difficulties in their lives. As her mentor, I also advised Elle that if and when this information was made public, she be prepared to address the issue head-on. She has shown her true inner strength and personal integrity in doing just that.

For those who wish to vilify her for past transgressions, or who simply believe that a person’s past failings make them incapable of changing, I would ask the following: Would you prefer people focus on the worst in you and condemn you for what you once were, or look at the best in you and see how far you have come?

While it is often said that a leopard doesn’t change its spots, we all know that “people” can change if they truly wish to. Elle is living proof of this truth and an inspiration to all. As she has shown, God has indeed put within us the ability to change. I have had the privilege of getting to know Elle over these many years, and I am truly proud of what she has accomplished. Elle, through sharing her personal experience, has and will continue to serve as a role model for others who are struggling to change their lives for the better.

Please continue to support and encourage those in our community who wish to give back to society through public service. I know Elle, and she is an individual with no private agenda who simply wants to make our home a better place for all. Join me in voting for Elle Cochran, a person who brings us hope, and who has proven that she has the strength and determination to work for a better tomorrow for our beloved Maui Nui.

JO ANNE JOHNSON, Councilmember, West Maui


I believe that Elle Cochran has possibly changed her life. But it really would have been nice for the public to know of her criminal past prior to the Primary Election.

This was not just a misdemeanor, but rather a serious felony.

Running for public office is all about being honest… at least that is what is supposed to be about.



I’ve been gone for a month visiting all sorts of places on the West Coast.

I went to the “Taste of Whitefish” (Montana), a wonderful place with 50 gourmet (and sometimes not) booths for $35, all you could eat and drink. It was such a great surprise, I may have to sneak some recipes.

I had a great time at the Pear Festival in Lakeport, California. There were many more offerings I just didn’t have time to experience. There was even a Hawaiian Luau in Redding, California, with Cyril Pahinui as a guest.

My question is, why-oh-why can’t Lahaina continue to have one of its greatest moneymaking, tax revenue-making and the most enjoyable night of the year: HALLOWEEN?!

When I came back, I read a letter to the editor that said, “I will vote for the person who brings this back.” If you want money from West Maui, then let us do what we always do. Make money, have fun, bring in people from all over the world to experience this. Then maybe I would vote for you.

KAT ASKEW, Honokowai


In the Sept. 30 edition of the Lahaina News, there was a story by Editor Mark Vieth regarding the formation of a new group — the West Maui Community Association (WMCA) — and their intentions pertaining to Halloween in Lahaina. Seizing upon the political opportunity of this was Ramon Madden, who was chosen to be this group’s interim president.

Madden is a political candidate running for the 10th District State House seat.

“Madden, a Republican candidate for the state House of Representatives, said LAC dropped the ball on the event by not resolving the issues on Halloween.” This sentence in this article is false and nonfactual. Madden needs to obtain the facts regarding LAC’s actions pertaining to the Halloween issue prior to making false, “insert thy foot in thy mouth” statements to the press.

As a matter of fact, I strongly feel that Madden should retract his statement and submit a public apology to LAC for same. After all, isn’t that what candidate Madden is all about — truth, facts and disclosure? Doesn’t appear that way to me.

Oh, by the way Mr. Vieth, perhaps you can contact the State of Hawaii Attorney General and ask him about Mr. Madden’s Facebook page, which was the subject of a formal complaint filed this year by the state legislature. And that is a fact.



Throughout this campaign, my opponent and his supporters have attempted to tag me as “pro-development,” and therefore a bad guy that the voters shouldn’t trust.

Let’s set the record straight. When I worked in the Arakawa administration, the only developments I supported were Jesse Spencer’s Waikapu project and the West Maui Breakers projects — both successful affordable housing projects. I opposed, and testified against, the Puunoa project in Lahaina because it was poorly designed and in the wrong location.

My opponents say that I am “pro-development” simply because my campaign has accepted donations from people in the development field. In fact, the far majority of the campaign contributions I have received are from ordinary Maui County residents. Of the over 70 people who have contributed to my campaign, contributions from folks in the development industry amount to eight.

My opponents see this election as a referendum on development. I see it very differently. This election for the South Maui County Council seat is about restoring common sense and honest discussion of the facts and getting our community back to work while preserving what makes Maui County so special.

The main difference between my opponent and me is that he comes from a rigid ideology that prevents him from seeking balance. I believe that finding balance is the key to our future. We need to balance the need for a vibrant economy with the imperative to protect and enhance our environment.

So if I am “pro” anything, it is for a balanced future. So please vote Don Couch on Nov. 2.



During the Arakawa administration, I wrote two letters to the mayor requesting something be done about the single road that provides access to over 900 homes in our and other subdivisions. The response? Crickets. No letter, postcard, phone call, nothing. Not even a confirmation that either letter was received.

During the Tavares administration, I wrote one letter to the mayor concerning a street in Lahaina being continually flooded, which prevented passage for my handicapped son.

In response, I got a letter from the Public Works Department, a meeting with two members of the mayor’s staff, and a meeting with a County civil engineer. A plan was decided on, and although it took awhile to implement because of funding, the ultimate solution was a lot more than originally asked for.

There are a number of other areas and issues that Mayor Tavares has excelled in compared to her predecessor. That’s why my family will be voting to reelect Mayor Tavares.

MIKE SOWERS, Kaanapali