Maui County voters rejected four-year terms for council members, keeping the two-year term status quo. But voters approved all 10 other proposed amendments to the Maui County Charter.
The change to council term limits was voted down by 55.8 percent (27,220 votes), with 32.7 percent (15,974 votes) for it.
Among the measures that passed were amendments to establish an independent Office of the County Auditor, to assign shoreline and ocean rescue and safety to the Department of Fire and Public Safety, and to add to the powers of the county Department of Environmental Management the mission to "guide efforts to optimize opportunities for environmental, natural resource protection, sustainability, conservation and restoration."
The auditor's office, which was voted in with 54.4 percent (26,519 votes) for the amendment and 28.6 percent (13,945 votes) against it, is aimed at seeking greater efficiency in county government to save money and improve services. The auditor will be hired and fired by members of the Maui County Council.
The amendment regarding ocean safety officers means that they will be transferred to the county Department of Fire and Public Safety and will no longer be under the Department of Parks and Recreation. According to Charter Commission Chairman Josh Stone, the mayor already has begun to move ocean lifeguards into the Fire Department administratively. That amendment passed with 66.5 percent (32,458 votes) for it and 21.2 percent (10,349 votes) against it.
The amendment to add powers to the Department of Environmental Management aims to give the mayor a mechanism to budget for programs addressing environmental issues, such as miconia, coqui frogs and reef depletion - all normally the jurisdiction of state agencies. But the move to add to the mission of the Environmental Management Department addresses dissatisfaction with the state's oftentimes slow reaction to problems because of budget shortfalls. With 66.3 percent (32,321 votes) for the amendment and 18.7 percent (9,126 votes) against it, voters sent a clear message.
COUNTY CHARTER AMENDMENTS
at a glance
Results as of 10:10 p.m.
|Change council terms of office||15,974||27,220|
|Move ocean and shoreline rescue to|
|Department of Fire and Public Safety||32,458||10,349|
|Establish Office of the County Auditor||26,519||13,945|
|communications access system||33,903||6,853|
|Re-publish the charter whenever it is amended||31,626||8,115|
|Increase council residency requirements||37,229||5,769|
|Increase mayoral residency requirements||39,204||4,711|
|Increase county’s responsibility for|
|environmental protection and sustainability||32,321||9,126|
|Create departmental consistency||33,213||7,263|
|Acknowledging our heritage||30,334||10,562|
|Clarifying terms of office affected by a vacancy||28,428||13,448|
Six other charter amendments that won voter approval included proposals to:
* Increase the time period for residency requirements for Maui County Council and mayoral candidates from 90 days to a year before they file nomination papers.
* Require interactive communications access for public testimony at all County Council regular and committee meetings for residents of Hana, Lanai, Molokai and other areas.
* Add a new section to require that the Maui County Charter be revised and published to include all significant amendments adopted.
* Add provisions to four chapters of the charter (those covering the departments of Fire and Public Safety, Personnel Services, Police Department and Liquor Control) to provide consistency in the process in which the various commissions of the listed departments that appoint its directors or chiefs handle the evaluation and removal of directors and chiefs.
* Incorporate the state's motto into the charter's preamble.
The proposal to extend council terms stemmed from the idea that longer terms in office would allow council members more time to get seasoned and allow greater institutional memory in the job while reducing the focus on re-election.
The Honolulu City Council already has four-year terms, while the Hawaii and Kauai county councils have two-year terms.