Many options available for public to contact Mayor’s Office
Mayor Alan Arakawa is attending the “Hawaii on the Hill” events in Washington, D.C., this week and is allowing me to use the “Our County” column in his absence.
As communications director for the county, I am pleased to say there are many options out there for those wanting to get in touch with us regarding county-related issues. With the coming of social media and the development of civic issue apps for mobile phones, there might even be some avenues of communication that people aren’t aware of yet.
Let’s start with the basics. First off, anyone can call the Mayor’s Office at 270-7855 where our helpful front desk assistants Michelle and Mahie will take your call. You also can email issues and concerns to email@example.com.
We have executive assistants that specialize in different areas such as building permits, parks issues, boards and commissions, road conditions, etc., and we can often help communicate with our departments on someone’s behalf.
What we can’t do is ask our departments to break existing county rules or laws. A lot of people call the Mayor’s Office expecting us to wave a magic wand to fix their problems, but it doesn’t work that way.
We have to follow the rules like everyone else, but sometimes we can untangle a problem or clarify a situation so it can get resolved.
What people may not realize is that you don’t need the Mayor’s Office to make the county aware of an existing issue. Anyone can file a “Request for Service” online using the county website: www.mauicounty.gov/RFS.
It is always good to file for a request for service so that the issue gets recorded in the county system. That way, if you follow up with a phone call you can say, “check the RFS under my name, I filed that back in ___.” The county employee will see the record and can tell you if the issue has been resolved or not.
You can also report an issue using our COMConnect app on your mobile phone. Just download the app and you will be able to report issues almost immediately.
Over the last couple of years, people have taken pictures of abandoned vehicles, cracked sidewalks, trash and other community issues they want addressed and posted them on the COMConnect app where county workers can see the problems for themselves. To date there have been 400 issues posted on COMConnect.
People can also contact us through the Maui County Facebook and Twitter pages. On Facebook, the county has more than 8,000 likes and on Twitter we have almost 9,000 followers. Here are the links to both: www.facebook.com/countyofmaui/,twitter.com/CountyofMaui.
On Facebook, people will usually send us a message explaining their issue. On Twitter, they will mention@countyofmaui in a tweet. Either way works.
Just a fair warning, some of our Twitter users have said we do not respond as quickly as we should to their concerns. Although I personally get notifications on my cellphone for both Facebook and Twitter, Twitter users do expect a more immediate response. That’s just the nature of that particular social media and we are trying to respond as best as we can.
We also have an Instagram page, www.instagram.com/countyofmaui/, however people don’t usually use that to communicate issues.
People also communicate through our very popular “Ask the Mayor” column that appears in The Maui News and MauiNow.com, as well as other media publications and outlets. We receive a number of emails sent to firstname.lastname@example.org every week, asking questions ranging from potholes to pot smoking.
Also, don’t forget, the county puts out press releases every week, which you can find on the county website — www.mauicounty.gov — by scrolling down past the honu until you see our news section. Right now, you’ll see the latest information on street repairs, grants workshop schedules, Summer PALS and much more. Those press releases also get forwarded to the news outlets, and pushed out to our Facebook and Twittter pages.
Many thanks to communications team members Lois Whitney and Ryan Piros for all their hard work helping to coordinate communications and making sure vital information reaches the people of Maui County.
Feel free to call me with any concerns at 270-8222. Mahalo.
* Rod Antone is communications director for the County of Maui.