WAILUKU - Maui County Council members on Wednesday expressed their support for the nomination of a "rodeo mom" to the Molokai Planning Commission.
Sherry Tancayo said she talks with residents from all over Molokai through her involvement with organized rodeo, Molokai High School and other community work. She said she wants to preserve Molokai's character, while also opening the island to opportunities for more economic growth. She said Molokai's planning process is dominated by a few outspoken groups, but she believes that most residents feel differently.
"Most of Molokai is silent, and I think they need to be represented," she said.
The council Policy Committee voted 8-0 to recommend approval of Tancayo's nomination. Council Member Joe Pontanilla was excused.
Tancayo said her husband had left Molokai to work but recently returned to the island because he had been laid off. She said she wanted to see enough growth in the island's economy to provide employment for people like him and so that her children and other young people would not have to move away from the island to find jobs.
"There is a lot of opportunities," she said. "Unfortunately, because the community is so divided, it's hard sometimes to let them in."
Asked about her views on an incident in December where protesters blocked an American Safari Cruises touring yacht from stopping at Kaunakakai, Tancayo said she didn't agree with the action.
"The community actually is for the cruise ship," she said, adding that the relatively small ship purchases local beef and produce, and visitors from the tour buy local crafts and products.
"I'd love to see them be comfortable and stay, because they put a lot of money into the community," she said.
American Safari Cruises announced in December that it had reached an agreement with opponents and would resume visits to the Friendly Isle later this month.
Tancayo said she has been involved in local community events for a long time but decided to put herself forward for the planning commission to represent another point of view.
"Instead of sitting in the back, I decided to get involved," she said.
Council members expressed enthusiastic support.
"I think Ms. Tancayo will do a good job for us on Molokai," said Council Chairman Danny Mateo, who holds the council's Molokai residency seat.
"I think we're in good hands if we're asking a rodeo mom to participate in the planning process," said Council Member Mike White. "That's the kind of courage and focus we need."
Also Wednesday, the committee voted 7-1 to recommend rejection of the nomination of Roxanne Teshima to the Civil Service Commission. Council members said Teshima's current position as a county employee could create a conflict in carrying out the commission's duties, which would include hiring and firing the county's personnel director and making rulings on the grievances of her fellow employees. They noted that they had appointed retirees but not active county employees to the commission in the past.
Council Member Don Couch voted "no" on disapproving Teshima, saying the commission could benefit from someone who "knows the system from the inside."
Policy Committee members also voted unanimously to recommend Josiah Sutton to the Council on Aging, along with Council Member Gladys Baisa, who would represent the County Council on the panel.
The nominations are anticipated to come before the full County Council for a final vote Jan. 20.
* Ilima Loomis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.