WAILUKU - Mayor Charmaine Tavares will seek a second four-year term in 2010.
Tavares, 66, of Pukalani, made her announcement Monday night during a fundraiser that drew 550 supporters to the Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa.
"I ask for your help and support in the coming election," she told the crowd. "It will take all of us together to be successful. Join me for four more years of building a strong foundation for a better tomorrow."
The Maui News / AMANDA COWAN photo
Mayor Charmaine Tavares is running for a second four-year term next year. She announced her plans Monday night during a fundraiser at the Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa. Former Mayor Alan Arakawa, salesman Kalani Tassill and planning consultant Chris Hart also have announced their candidacies for mayor.
Two other announced mayoral candidates, former Mayor Alan Arakawa and planning consultant Chris Hart, said Tuesday that they both expected Tavares to seek re-election.
Also in the running is Valley Isle Motors salesman Kalani Tassill, 52.
"It doesn't surprise me," said Arakawa, 58, of Kahului. "I wish her the best of luck. We'll see what happens. . . . Let the public decide."
Arakawa was mayor from 2003 until early 2007. Tavares upset him in 2006, taking 51.3 percent of the vote and beating him 19,964-18,213 in the second special election.
In an interview Tuesday at The Maui News, Tavares said the reward of her job comes from making a difference in people's lives.
"I care very much about this community," she said. "I always have been trying to help people all my life."
Tavares said she has devoted her life to being mayor and community service.
"I have no other life than this," she said.
She said what she hears most often from people in the community is how much they appreciate the county's efforts to establish and expand the Maui Bus program.
Since 2007, the county has received more than $5 million in federal funds for additional buses, the mayor said. And, with the passage of a bill recently in Congress, another $2 million will be available to the county to expand the bus program further.
"The Maui Bus has reached consistent ridership of over 6,000 boardings per day," she said. "This results in ridership of over 2 million each year."
Tavares pointed out that the Maui Bus started in 2006 with 293,000 annual riders.
She said she was pleased when a woman told her the Maui Bus saved her from losing her job when she could no longer get a ride to work from a son.
Tavares said she told herself: "This is why I do what I do."
The mayor said she's proud of her administration's work in laying the foundation for 95 percent energy self-sufficiency for Maui County by the year 2020.
"I believe that we can transform our local economy and create a sustainable future by giving a high priority to energy efficiencies and renewable energy initiatives," she said in her prepared remarks Monday night.
On Tuesday, she said it will take more than electric and hybrid cars. Other initiatives include developing fuel from alternatives such as biofuels, and wind, solar power and waste-to-energy alternatives.
Tavares said her administration organized two Energy Expos to showcase new ideas and to have working groups of representatives from government and the community to work together on energy self-sufficiency.
The mayor said she'd like to see alternative energy technologies become a new economic engine for Maui County and to have the county become a center for renewable energy research, training, testing and development.
Also, with the downturn in the economy, Tavares said she's proud of the work her administration has done to help small businesses and those who want to establish small businesses.
During her remarks Monday, Tavares said she believes Maui County is on the road to economic recovery.
"I feel confident that, within the next year or two, we will see stronger and healthier signs from our business sector and visitor industry," she said. "We have already seen glimpses of hope such as increased airlift to bring more visitors here and renewed interest in the film industry."
Tavares said she will make herself readily available to groups interested in hearing her speak about her campaign or about her administration's goals and plans for the future. But she said her campaign won't do sign-waving, door-to-door canvassing or telephone polling.
Hart, 68, of Wailuku, said he knows it will be a tough challenge to unseat an incumbent mayor, but "I look forward to presenting my candidacy.
"It's really for the voters to choose," he said, adding that one of his disadvantages is being a candidate without as much name recognition as his opponents.
"I need to get myself and my name out to the community," Hart said.
Hart was director of the county Department of Housing and Human Concerns from December 1984 to January 1986 and he was head of the county Department of Planning from January 1986 to January 1991. He has led Chris Hart & Partners, a landscape architecture and land planning firm, since January 1991.
Hart said that with his educational background and work experience in county government and the community, "I am definitely a capable candidate for the job."
He added that he believes it's important for someone with a planning and business background to be involved in the implementation of the county's updated General Plan.
He said he is in the process of divesting himself of the shares of the business to prepare for the mayoral campaign.
* Brian Perry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.