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New mayor, council take office

New mayor to open landfill on Sundays

New Maui County Mayor Mike Victorino takes the official oath of office Wednesday morning in the conference room of the Mayor’s Office in a private ceremony. The Maui News / COLLEEN UECHI photo

KAHULUI – In his first day on the job, new Maui County Mayor Mike Victorino went to work announcing that landfills will once again open on Sundays and that his office will convene groups addressing Native Hawaiian culture and economic diversity and bringing together environmentalists and the hospitality industry.

“It’s not about me, it’s all about we, so please help me with the County Council. Help us with the new members. Help us do a good job, because it’s not ‘I’m the one,’ it’s not ‘they’re the one,?’ it’s about we and our future,” Victorino said Wednesday in his inaugural address at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center Castle Theater. “Let us all work together to make it a better place.”

“I had a lot of prayer today,” he continued. “I wanted to ask you for your prayers so that I and my administration will also do what is right for all people in Maui County. This is very important.

“Today, I talked about collaboration. Today, I talked about family. Family is very important to me. And I want you all to remember, your family should be and is first and foremost.”

Victorino officially took the oath Wednesday morning in the Mayor’s Office Conference Room on the ninth floor of the Kalana O Maui building in Wailuku. He replaces Alan Arakawa, who could not run for re-election due to term limits, and defeated Elle Cochran on Nov. 6 to capture the office.

Maui County Mayor Mike Victorino gives his inaugural address Wednesday in the Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s Castle Theater. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

The new mayor took a ceremonial oath later at the public event in Castle Theater. The earlier official oath-taking was necessary because Victorino had to preside over the County Council’s organizational meeting in the afternoon until a new leader was chosen.

Council Member Kelly King was elected chairwoman of the council at that meeting.

Second Circuit Chief Judge Joseph Cardoza administered both oaths. The morning event was a private ceremony due to limited space. Victorino’s wife, Joycelyn, and other family members, along with friends and staff, witnessed the new mayor taking his official oath.

At the evening event, Victorino’s directors and deputies also took their oaths. There were blessings and remarks from Victorino and Gov. David Ige. In attendance were state legislators, former council members, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell and newly elected Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami, along with community leaders, prominent businesspeople and friends and family.

Ige said he looked forward to working with Victorino, as the two share the same priorities, such as building a better place for their families, fighting homelessness and bringing economic diversity to the state.

Maui County Chief Judge Joseph Cardoza swears in Cabinet members of new mayor Mike Victorino’s administration at an inauguration event at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center on Wednesday evening. Directors will require approval by the County Council to officially take their posts. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

“One thing I learned a long time ago, I know the mayor (Victorino) is very familiar, . . . government is a team sport,” Ige said.

When the county, state and federal governments work together “we can make great things happen,” he added. “I do believe Mike’s values and our causes will guide us in making the right decisions for this community here and the state of Hawaii.”

At the beginning of his speech, Victorino displayed his comical side, getting laughs from the crowd while thanking those who helped him along the way, including Joycelyn, known to residents for her warm personality. In his message to constituents, he spoke about collaboration and working for the people.

He also covered specifics, such as opening the landfills on Sundays beginning in February. He said he didn’t want to see refuse alongside roadways and in old sugar cane fields.

“We can have a clean island. We can work together,” he said.

Mayor Mike Victorino’s wife, Joycelyn; sons, Mikey and Shane; and Shane’s wife, Melissa, listen to the inauguration address Wednesday. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

At the Central Maui Landfill, he put Anaergia, which inked a deal with the county early in the Arakawa administration to build a waste-to-renewable-fuel project, on notice. Victorino said that if Anaergia can’t do what it was supposed to, “we should look around for somebody else.”

Sometimes at odds with each other, Victorino said he will bring together environmentalists and representatives of the hospitality industry to work out solutions. He said the mayor’s Office of Economic Development will research opportunities to diversity the county’s economy beyond tourism.

He also wants a group of kupuna and cultural experts to address protecting the Hawaiian host culture.

His priorities include building housing for the working class and lower income groups and establishing an internship program for high school juniors and seniors and college students to learn about county government.

Victorino said he was looking forward to meeting with representatives of Mahi Pono, the private group that recently bought 41,000 acres of former sugar cane land from Alexander & Baldwin.

Gov. David Ige, who addressed the inauguration crowd, drew a laugh from Maui County Mayor Mike Victorino and his wife, Joycelyn. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

He acknowledged the company’s vision of sustainable agriculture and nongenetically modified crops but added that he wanted “to keep Central Maui as green as it has been throughout my lifetime.”

Mahi Pono is a joint venture of Pomona Farming LLC and Public Sector Pension Investment Board, which bought the land for $262 million.

Victorino closed by quoting the late Jim Valvano, former head basketball coach of North Carolina State University. The coach said that people should do three things everyday, which is laugh, think and cry.

“That’s what I believe we can do each and every day to make Maui a better place,” the new mayor said.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@mauinews.com.

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