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Reimagining the Maui Council Districts

Maui Time Weekly
August 05, 2010

by Jacob Shafer

'Moment of Truth' For Maui Election Reform

The way Maui County elects its Council is flawed. It may even be unconstitutional. But it could also change. Under the current system, Maui has nine "residency areas," which vary radically in size and population, and one Councilmember is elected from each area by all county voters. Recently, the Council's Committee of the Whole considered two proposals aimed at fundamentally altering the voting process. The first, from the Kula Community Association, would create three districts of roughly equal population, with three Councilmembers elected from each. The second proposal, backed by the West Maui Charter Working Group, would create nine single-member districts of roughly equal population, with one Councilmember elected from each. In both cases, voters would vote only for a candidate or candidates in their respective district. The second proposal has the support of Councilmember Jo Anne Johnson, who introduced a draft resolution that would put the question on the ballot in November. Now, the full Council will take up the matter on Friday, August 6 (meeting begins at 9am in the Council Chambers in Wailuku). Reached for comment, attorney Lance Collins—who works with the West Maui Charter Working Group—called it "a moment of truth" for the Council. Meanwhile, in an August 3 Maui News Viewpoint, Councilmember Danny Mateo of Molokai said the proposal would hurt Molokai and Lanai residents because they'd be folded in with other regions due to their small populations. Of course, that's sort of the point—does it make sense for such sparsely populated areas to enjoy the same representation as places like Kahului, Kihei and West Maui? That'll be up for discussion on Friday. And whatever the outcome, everyone will be impacted.

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