We must be guided by community values

Our County

My first week as mayor was a whirlwind of activity.

On Jan. 2, I was humbled to accept the honor of serving as Maui County’s chief executive. And, just four days later, I was in the Emergency Operations Center in the basement of the Kalana O Maui building, listening to emergency radio transmissions as Maui firefighters skillfully fought and tamed a fast-moving brush fire that threatened Maui Meadows homes and Wailea resort hotels.

Truly, we dodged a bullet, and thank God no one was hurt. When 15 to 20 mph winds died around 2 a.m. Monday, the fire had burned about 200 acres of kiawe and brush, but no structures.

I’m so proud of our firefighters, police and first responders. Thank you. And, mahalo to Red Cross volunteers for setting up an evacuation shelter at the Kihei Community Center. My wife, first lady Joycelyn Victorino, and I visited the shelter to see what we could do to help. There, we could see our community pull together as volunteers pitched in on the spot and took care of their neighbors and our visitors in a time of need.

I’m grateful for the emergency response and dedication of Public Works and Parks and Recreation department employees and for the great teamwork displayed by Maui Emergency Management Agency employees. And, thanks to Goodfellow Bros. for water tankers and bulldozers that cut firebreaks in critical areas to keep lives and property out of harm’s way.

Earlier in the week at my inauguration, it was a pleasure to welcome Gov. David Ige to our community celebration at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s Castle Theater. And I was pleased to have the support from Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell and newly elected Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami.

Ige talked about values that we all share and about setting priorities, including making progress in developing attainable housing, strengthening local sustainability, fighting homelessness and striving for economic diversification.

One of the highlights of Ige’s speech came when he said: “Government is a team sport. And when county, state and federal partners in government can work together we can make great things happen.” That’s a fine example of collaboration, and I couldn’t agree more.

I also appreciated West and South Maui state Sen. Rosalyn Baker, who expressed support for my new administration from the state Legislature and our Maui contingent.

My inauguration was a deeply spiritual and personal experience, a momentous day in my life. It was even more special to share it with my family: my sons, Shane and Mikey, and their families; my grandchildren; and my lovely wife, who has stood by me through thick and thin, better and worse. I have a great partnership with my wife, and I have a partnership with you, the people of Maui County.

I’ve often said that’s it’s not about me; it’s about we. And by that I mean we cannot be led wholly by self-interest or by what’s best for us as individuals. Instead, we must be guided by community values, by what will most benefit the people.

Finally, I ask residents of Maui, Molokai and Lanai to step up to serve our community as volunteer members of one of our many boards, councils, commissions and committees. The deadline for applications has been extended to Jan. 15.

Applications are available online at www.mauicounty.gov/Boards. Paper applications can be picked up in the Mayor’s Office on the ninth floor of the county building and at the information booth in the main lobby. They also can be found at all public libraries, at Council Services offices on Molokai and Lanai and in Hana; and at Parks and Recreation Department Permit Offices. Applications may be mailed to Mayor Michael Victorino at 200 S. High St., ninth floor, Wailuku 96793, or faxed to 270-7870.

* “Our County,” a column from Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino, discusses county issues and activities of county government. The column usually appears on the second and fourth Fridays of the month.