Retiring Carroll to focus on family, service
His daughter, past challenger Sinenci expected to vie for seven-term councilor’s seat
Maui County Council Member Bob Carroll said Thursday that he’ll be retiring this year because he wants to spend more time with his family, including a dozen great-grandchildren, and to be more involved in community service in his beloved Hana, especially at Hana High & Elementary School.
“I enjoy doing volunteer work,” said Carroll, 74, whose record of volunteer service in Hana community, school and other activities dates back to the early 1970s. “And, I’ve been think-ing more and more of the next generation and where they’re going. . . . I’ve been asked to come back and be more involved in Hana school.”
Carroll said he hopes voters will turn over the reins of his East Maui residency seat to his daughter, Claire Kamalu Carroll, 48. He called her dedicated and hardworking, and someone who can work well with others to solve problems.
“I’m sure she would be an asset to the County of Maui,” he said, adding that he’s mentored her on the ins and outs of council service.
Claire Carroll pulled nomination papers Feb. 1, the first day for candidates to do so, and filed officially the next day to run for the council office.
Bob Carroll said he knows of no other candidates for his seat, although he acknowledged that Hana special education teacher Shane Sinenci attempted to unseat him in 2016. (Carroll won with 25,273 votes, or 47.7 percent, to Sinenci’s 19,119 votes, or 36.1 percent.)
Contacted by phone Thursday, Sinenci said he would travel to Wailuku this afternoon to check out nomination papers at the County Clerk’s Office for the East Maui council seat.
“We’re going to run again,” he said. “The community overwhelming voted for me.”
To make that point, Sinenci, 51, pointed to the Nov. 8, 2016, vote count from precinct 13-3 at Hana High & Elementary School. It showed Sinenci getting 321 votes, or 73.6 percent of the Hana vote, while Carroll took 107 votes, or 24.2 percent.
“I believe my community wants change,” he said. “I took it as a message.”
Bob Carroll is of “my parents’ generation,” Sinenci said. “We have nothing but respect for Bob Carroll.”
“I refer to him as ‘Uncle Bob,’ for respect,” he said. “I appreciate his years of service, his dedication to his community. . . . He’s served our community well.”
Sinenci said he believes the daily weekday grind of driving from Hana to Wailuku, especially with Hana Highway’s “treacherous roads” and landslides, has taken a toll on the longtime council member.
Sinenci is the Hana Community Association chairman and the Hana representative on the Aha Moku Advisory Council.
He said the East Maui community needs more attention from the county to improve the remote area’s infrastructure, such as renovating the old Hana school building in town that houses nonprofit agencies.
“It’s termite-ridden,” he said. “It’s falling apart.”
Also, the Hana park bathrooms need to be improved, and a leach field was unwisely constructed at Hana Bay Park where children play in the ocean, residents fish and spend much of their time, he said.
Claire Carroll said her reason for running for the council seat is “that I have been doing many things for my community and would like to extend my passion (for) helping people on a larger scale.”
Bob Carroll has served on the County Council in two stretches – the first from 2001 to 2006 and the second from 2011 to the present, seven two-year terms in all.
Currently, he’s the council’s Land Use Committee chairman and vice chairman of the Housing, Human Services and Transportation Committee. He was on the Maui Planning Commission from 1997 to 2000, serving as both chairman and vice chairman.
He discounted the notion that his long, nearly daily drive from Hana to Wailuku and back has gotten too much for him. Carroll said he’s grown accustomed to waking at 4 a.m., leaving home by 5 and arriving in Central Maui at 7.
Driving one way takes two hours, he said. “I drive slow.” Then, he typically doesn’t get home until 7:30 or 8 p.m.
“I don’t think I’ve slowed down any (in terms of work output), but it does get tiring after a while,” he said.
Carroll said he agrees with his daughter’s assessment that personal differences among council members have made it more difficult to get the public’s business done, but he declined to go into details, saying that would be like throwing kerosene on a fire.
Bob Carroll said he has often found himself as a “swing vote,” in the middle of council factions.
“I work with both sides,” he said. “I get along with both sides just fine.”
Bob Carroll said he sometimes wonders if he could have been council chairman, instead of Council Member Mike White, amid last year’s early leadership struggle, but he said he wanted to remain as Land Use Committee chairman to ensure that housing initiatives continued.
Among his accomplishments was pushing through a fast-track, 25-unit, 100 percent affordable housing project in Hana, located between Hana school and town, he said.
Department of Planning Deputy Director Michele Chouteau McLean said she’s worked with Bob Carroll since the late 1990s and early 2000s.
“He’s a very, very nice man,” she said. “He’s very fair and very open. We could use more public servants and elected officials like him.”
* Brian Perry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.