Voters in Paia and Spreckelsville, as well as parts of Maui Lani and Wailuku, would cast their ballots in different legislative districts in a redistricting plan proposed by the Hawaii Reapportionment Commission.
Under the plan, all of Paia would vote with East Maui, Molokai and Lanai in the 13th House District, a seat currently held by Rep. Mele Carroll, with the boundary of the district drawn near Baldwin Beach Park. Spreckelsville would vote with Upcountry residents in the 12th House District, currently represented by Rep. Kyle Yamashita, with the district boundary near Kanaha Beach Park.
Parts of Paia and all of Spreckelsville have been included in the 9th House District, which also includes Kahului and Puunene and is currently held by Rep. Gil Keith-Agaran.
Lance Holter, a Paia resident and ex-officio chairman of the Maui Democratic Party, said he was pleased by the change, saying he judged that Paia residents seemed to feel more connected to East Maui, and that Paia had been "dangling out there" on the fringe of the 9th House District.
"I think this cleans it up nicely," he said.
The commission's draft redistricting plan accounts for population changes recorded in last year's census. The commission is planning a series of meetings on the proposed maps across the state, with a final vote to be taken in late September.
In other changes, the line between the 8th and 9th House Districts would be redrawn to trace Waiale Road. That would switch some residents of upper Maui Lani into the 9th District, and some Wailuku residents between South High Street and Waiale into the 8th District.
Rep. Joe Souki holds the 8th District seat, which also includes Wailuku, Waihee and Kahakuloa.
And while only a few people would be affected, a change that would redraw the 12th District boundary to include people who live below Keokea would save voters a long drive to the polls on election day.
Under the plan, residents of Kealakapu Road and Easy Street, in a rural area below Kula Highway near Sun Yat Sen Park, would vote with the rest of Upcountry.
They had previously been included in the 11th House District, which put their polling station in Kihei.
Maui Democratic Party Chairman Todd Craine was glad to see that change.
"We had some people who were livid when they came to vote and found out they had to drive to Kihei," he said. "There's just no easy way to tell them they have to drive an hour to vote in their own district."
He and others said they didn't see any major concerns for Maui County in this round of redistricting, noting only minor changes were proposed.
But many observers from both parties said they were very troubled by the Reapportionment Commission's plan to include nonvoting members of the military in population counts, which would heavily weight electoral districts in favor of Oahu.
Several said that a 24-percent population growth on the Big Island over the past 10 years should have resulted in a new Senate seat. But counting the nonvoting military would keep that seat on Oahu.
"With all deference to the military, I think the Big Island truly deserves that seat," Craine said.
Holter said it appeared that members of the Reapportionment Commission were seeking to keep power on Oahu.
"We could have had another district on the Big Island, and I think they're deserving of it, because they've had an increase in population," he said.
"It really isn't a partisan issue," added former Maui County Republican Party Chairwoman Kay Ghean. "To deny the people of the Big Island a Senate seat, I just think is shameful. Democrat or Republican - it's more likely to be a Democratic seat, but either way, the people should be represented."
While Maui doesn't appear to be affected by the issue this time around, that might not be the case a decade from now, said Madge Schaefer, chairwoman of the Maui Reapportionment Advisory Council.
If Maui's population continues to grow, the Valley Isle too could find itself denied a new legislative seat in favor of Oahu, she said.
"It's a dilution of our voting strength," she said. "Long-range, it's important for the people of Maui to realize that if this precedent is set . . . there surely will be (an impact) for Maui that will leave us shortchanged as far as representation."
Maps of the proposed new district boundaries can be viewed online at hawaii.gov/elections/reapportionment/.
* Ilima Loomis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
* The article includes a correction from the original published on Page A3 on Sunday, August 7, 2011.