A self-serving political act

The Maui News
July 18, 2010

Thursday's meeting of the Maui County Council Committee of the Whole was a disappointment.

The committee basically ditched a plan to change the County Charter to create nine election districts, with one County Council member from each district, elected by people who live in that district.

It would have replaced our current "at-large" method where council members are elected by residents throughout the county. That method often results in people who cannot carry their own district representing that district.

It also gives a huge advantage to incumbents since residents in other districts recognize the names of incumbents when they see them on ballots.

But the Committee of the Whole declined to act on the proposed charter amendment, referring it to the Charter Commission. The only problem is that members of the Charter Commission won't be appointed until next year and there will be no report on their recommendations until the summer of 2012.

That means even if the amendment were put on the ballot and passed in the fall of 2012, the change in the method of election of council members could not take effect until the election of 2014.

We agree with County Council Member Jo Anne Johnson who said that it looks like the already elected are trying to preserve their political careers. We also agree with Johnson's statement that this referral is a stalling tactic and the concept of district voting is not complicated - it is not hard to understand and people have been talking about it for years.

So protection of political careers trumps letting citizens elect a representative from their district. There can be no other explanation. After all, putting the measure on the ballot doesn't assure passage - it simply gives the residents of Maui County the opportunity to make the choice.

How can that be a bad thing?

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.


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