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No Freedom of Choice

Until we adopt a district system, Maui County residents will be the losers.

December 15, 2011
Nikhilananda , Co-Chair of the Hawai‘i Green Party · Huelo

It is truly sad that the Charter Commission has rejected and blocked the opportunity for the voters of Maui County to decide for themselves whether or not they want to change the method by which we elect our County Council from the current at-large structure to some form of a district system. Though this arrangement seems fair to some, it is far from it.

Thousands of residents and voters have expressed the desire to change the way we choose our local representatives. Because the County of Maui is unique in its composition-comprised of four islands with secluded communities-years ago, a system was devised that provides little accountability from the elected council members.

Our current County Council was elected with the prevailing system; they have no interest in adopting a more democratic structure. Placing a citizen initiative on the ballot is impossible; thus, the citizens of Maui County once again appear to be stuck with an absurd, idiotic, archaic and undemocratic method for electing our representatives.

Though established for other counties in the state and for most of the country, for some reason, the six appointed members of the Charter Commission have blocked our freedom to choose for ourselves.

Until Maui County adopts some form of district system, it will continue to come up. As we currently elect our Maui County Council, residents are not being properly served nor represented. The likelihood of having different opinions and perspectives on our council is severely limited. We all lose, since a variety of points of view is lacking from the political dialogue on our County Council, and those elected have limited accountability. The "resident" districts in which candidates are required to live range in size from around a thousand residents to over 25,000. This is blatantly unconstitutional and illegal. Eleven districts of equal population would allow almost every resident an equal voice.

Whether one agrees or disagrees with the current at-large system, it should be the voters who decide this issue, not six non-elected individuals who were originally appointed with the administration and most of the current council, fully aware of their opposition to changing the status quo.

The failure to think creatively while looking at this situation with a progressive goal in mind will result in maintaining the status quo for the foreseeable future and continuing with a dysfunctional and poorly constructed electoral process. Until we adopt a district system, Maui County residents will be the losers. The time to establish a district voting system is long overdue. At least give the voters a choice.

 
 

 

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