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Noteable Persons of 2010

The Maui Weekly spotlights nominees who have made important contributions to our island community.

December 30, 2010
Sarah Ruppenthal

Charmaine Tavares

When Mayor Charmaine Tavares was sworn into office in January 2007, she carried with her the words of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt: “People working together as a group can accomplish things which no individual acting alone could ever hope to bring about.” The mayor explained, “This principle has been the foundation of my political career and it is the only way we will survive in our current economy and the only way we will thrive in our future.”

For 41 years, Mayor Tavares has been involved in public service, working as a high school teacher, school counselor and athletic director, as well as the program director for Upward Bound at Maui Community College.

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And before she was elected to the Maui County Council for 10 years, Mayor Tavares served as director of the county Department of Parks and Recreation.

During her tenure as mayor, she embarked on a mission to pave the way toward reaching an ambitious goal of meeting 95 percent of Maui County’s energy needs through renewable energy sources by the year 2020. According to the mayor, she has “walked the walk and talked the talk,” organizing two highly successful Energy Expos, participating in a test program for plug-in, hybrid electric vehicles—even driving one herself—and initiating energy storage systems and integration studies designed to enable the increased mix of unlimited wind, solar, and wave energy into the Maui County electric grid.

Her decision to enter the mayoral race—for a second time—was steeped in her love for Maui County and its people. Although she did not win the election last November, she will continue to work within the community, and many speculate that Tavares—an avid bowler—will fulfill one of her lifetime goals: opening a bowling center on Maui.

Sol Kaho‘ohalahala

Born and raised on Lana‘i, Sol Kaho‘ohalahala spent his youth surrounded by the pineapple fields that made the tiny island one of the world’s most successful plantation communities. Yet, as he watched the island shift from a booming pineapple plantation to a resort destination, Kaho‘ohalahala witnessed a number of transgressions that inspired him to take action—and before he knew it, he was running for a seat on the Maui County Council.

During his final term, Kaho‘ohalahala—who left his seat on the council to run for mayor—served as the chairman of the council’s Planning Committee, managing the review of the Maui County General Plan. Before representing Lana‘i on the council for three terms, Kaho‘ohalahala also represented the 7th and the more recently apportioned 3rd Districts in the Hawai‘i State Legislature, as well as serving as the executive director of the Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve Commission.

What’s next for the council member? He hasn’t said what his plans are, but we are certain this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Sol Kaho‘ohalahala.

Mike Molina

When it comes to extolling life’s lessons, Mike Molina has no shortage of experience. Named one of Maui’s Top Educators by the Volunteer Association of Maui and serving as Maui Chapter President of the Hawai‘i State Teachers Association, Molina has touched the hearts and minds of Maui residents—in and out of the classroom.

Due to term limitations, Molina will no longer be a familiar presence in the council’s chambers, but his legacy will remain. Since 2000, the five-term Maui County council member has amassed a number of significant achievements, such as creating a loan fund program for first-time homebuyers; supporting affordable housing projects; initiating a bill to ban plastic bags; spearheading efforts to bring a recycling center for Makawao; and amending laws that regulate animal cruelty by including provisions on capturing live fish.

Is Molina’s political career over? Far from it. While he’s currently substitute teaching at Kalama Intermediate School in Makawao, he announced last week that he will serve as an executive assistant to incoming Mayor Alan Arakawa, tasked with “overseeing boards and commissions, and most likely, acting as a liaison to the council.”

Bill Kauakea Medeiros

Densely forested and miles from the conveniences of Costco and WalMart (not to mention, a region with capricious cell phone reception), East Maui is unique in so many ways. As East Maui’s representative on the Maui County Council, Bill Kauakea Medeiros tackled the challenges facing the East Maui community head-on.

In theprocess, he paved the way for some groundbreaking legislation, including a ban on genetically modified taro; kidney dialysis services for Hana; and an amendment to the Maui County Charter for Hana to have an independent planning commission, so that the region could become more autonomous in making decisions regarding zoning and land use.

While he may not be returning to the Maui County Council in 2011, it’s a safe bet that the 63-year-old Hana native will stay active.

Before his career as a legislator, Medeiros sat on a number of nonprofit boards, worked as a firefighter and served in the Air Force—a testament to his commitment to public service, as well as his determination to help those in need.

Wayne Nishiki

Wayne Nishiki, a public official who lost his reelection bid for the South Maui seat on the Maui County Council, has made more than one appearance before the court of public opinion. But he has shouldered that burden by holding his head high and never abandoning his cause.

“I do my job, and sometimes I have to draw the line,” he said. “My decisions may not always be popular, but that’s why people still vote for me… because I do what’s right, no matter what.”

In his decades of service to Maui County, he has contributed to the fabric of the community—and it has not gone unnoticed.

“I appreciated Wayne because he always asked the hard questions, while in council, and protected the public’s access rights to the ocean and put the public interest first,” said Sierra Club Maui Chapter President Lance Holter. “Wayne left some big shoes to fill… the public and voters will be watching.”



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