Published in The Maui News, Jan. 4, 2015
By MIKE WHITE, for The Maui News
Friday morning’s inauguration ceremony for the 2015-2017 Maui County Council provided a great opportunity for the county’s elected officials to reaffirm our commitment to work together for the constituents we all serve.
The new term formally began on Friday afternoon with the adoption of resolutions to appoint officers and employees and establish standing committees. For the first time in recent memory, legislative proposals were referred to committees on the first day of the term, allowing the new council to work on bills and resolutions without delay.
The first round of committee meetings will begin next week, several weeks earlier than usual. Although the leadership of most committees will remain the same, there are a few changes in roles.
Aside from serving as vice chair of the council, Council Member Don Guzman, who holds the Kahului residency seat, continues to chair the Economic Development, Energy, Agriculture and Recreation Committee. Guzman, an attorney, also chairs the Committee of the Whole, which is responsible for vetting litigation matters.
Council Member Riki Hokama (Lanai) now chairs the Budget and Finance Committee and will lead the council in shaping the county’s budget for fiscal year 2016. His committee also reviews amendments to the current budget.
Hokama is president of the National Association of Counties, a former council chairman and a prior budget chairman. His experience and knowledge will be especially valuable in guiding the annual budget session.
Council Member Stacy Crivello (Molokai) retains her leadership of the Housing, Human Services and Transportation Committee. This committee maintains its jurisdiction over social programs, the Maui Bus and efforts to develop more housing for the county’s working families.
Council Member Elle Cochran (West Maui) continues to chair the Infrastructure and Environmental Management Committee. This provides her the ability to continue to lead discussions on a variety of conservation efforts, including the county’s recycling program.
The Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee will now be chaired by Council Member Mike Victorino (Wailuku-Waihee-Waikapu). Victorino is also the council’s presiding officer pro tempore and the county’s representative on the Hawaii State Association of Counties’ executive committee.
Council Member Gladys Baisa (Upcountry) has taken over the Water Resources Committee. This post will allow her to focus on long-standing water infrastructure concerns, including the lingering Upcountry water meter waiting list. With a track record of achieving results, she will be able to work with the administration to identify long-term solutions.
Council Member Bob Carroll (East Maui) continues to chair the Land Use Committee. The committee vets land use applications, including requests for zoning changes and affordable-housing developments under Chapter 201H of the Hawaii Revised Statues.
Council Member Don Couch (South Maui) remains chair of the Planning Committee. His committee is expected to review the Lanai Community Plan update early in the new term.
There is much to be done over the next two years, and we have a great team to make tremendous progress.
Most important, I am always here to listen. If you have any ideas for legislation that will benefit county residents, please feel free to contact me. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
I look forward to working with all of you. Mahalo.
* Mike White is the chairman of the Maui County Council and holds the council seat for the Paia-Haiku-Makawao residency area. “Chair’s 3 Minutes” is a weekly column to explain the latest news on county legislative matters. Go to MauiCounty.us for more information.