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Some Central Maui residents may see different voting districts

Commission redrawing district lines statewide in wake of census

A map shows the proposed state Senate districts for Maui County. The state Reapportionment Commission is drawing up new voting districts for communities statewide in the wake of the U.S. census conducted every 10 years. — Map courtesy of the state Reapportionment Commission

Some Central Maui residents and rural communities north of Wailuku may soon be represented by state legislators that predominantly speak for Maui’s South and West Maui communities.

Meanwhile, smaller neighborhoods such as Old Sand Hills and Spreckelsville will also see changes in their state House districts.

These are some of the changes for Maui County that the state Reapportionment Commission is scheduled to soon adopt along with other redistricting plans for the rest of the state involving congressional and state legislative district lines.

Reapportionment is conducted every 10 years following the U.S. census. The state commission is tasked with ensuring each political district is created equally using census data.

Proposed changes in Maui County include:

A map shows the proposed state House of Representatives districts for Maui County. The state Reapportionment Commission is drawing up new voting districts for communities statewide in the wake of the U.S. census conducted every 10 years. — Map courtesy of the state Reapportionment Commission

• Expanding Senate District 6, a seat that is currently held by Sen. Rosalyn “Roz” Baker and currently encompasses South and West Maui, to now include the Legends at Maui Lani and Waikapu Gardens subdivisions. These communities are currently in District 5, a seat that is currently held by Sen. Gil Keith-Agaran and includes Central Maui. The proposal will retain upper Waikapu in District 5.

• Expanding State House District 10, a seat that is currently held by Rep. Angus McKelvey and predominantly includes West Maui, to also include Kahakuloa, Waihee and Waiehu Kou to Oceanview Estates. These areas north of Wailuku will be removed from House District 8, a seat currently held by Rep. Troy Hashimoto.

• Expanding State House District 11, a seat that is currently held by Rep. Tina Wildberger and covers Kihei, Wailea and Makena, to encompass all of South Maui, now including North Kihei.

• Adding Old Sand Hills to House District 8, which includes Wailuku and outlying areas. Old Sand Hills will be removed from House District 9, a seat that is currently held by Rep. Justin Woodson and mainly encompasses Kahului.

• Adding Spreckelsville to House District 13, a seat that is currently held by Rep. Linda Clark and includes East Maui, Lanai and Molokai.

If the redistricting plans go through, commission members and Maui politicians said this will also allow candidates from new areas to run for certain offices.

The Maui County proposals are nearly set but not finalized yet, as the commission continues to deal with issues related to U.S. military data on nonpermanent resident personnel and spouses in Hawaii, which mainly affects Oahu and Hawaii island, Commission Vice Chairperson Dylan Nonaka acknowledged earlier this week.

Chairman Mark Mugiishi said during the commission’s meeting Thursday that maps will be drawn up again and there will be further meetings that will allow for public input in the coming weeks.

However, the commission is under a time crunch as their maps need to be sent to the state Office of Elections, which then has to do its own work as candidates may begin filing on March 1 for the upcoming elections later this year.

Hashimoto called the latest proposals “far from perfect” and hoped the commission “would have split the representation burden amongst other areas, other than Central Maui.”

But he said at least all of Central Maui will have representation from a Wailuku or Kahului lawmaker.

In an earlier proposal, both Hashimoto and the Waikapu Community Association said plans were to move Waikapu from Central Maui districts to be with South and West Maui.

But with testimony from the community, Nonaka said that proposal was taken off the table and adjustments were made.

“This to me did not seem fair as Waikapu clearly should have some type of Central Maui connection,” Hashimoto said of the earlier proposal that has since changed.

“This latest commission’s proposal, in my mind, creates a compromise where all Central Maui communities will continue to be represented either in the House or in the Senate by a Central Maui representative,” Hashimoto added.

Keith-Agaran echoed his fellow Central Maui lawmaker’s sentiments.

“My own preference would have been to keep the heart of Maui intact as one Senate district, as we’ve had for the last 20 years. But I also realize that population growth would make it difficult to keep the same boundaries,” said Keith-Agaran, a Kahului resident.

He acknowledged that he has friends, supporters and family in both Maui Lani Legends and Waikapu Gardens.

But while he will not be formally representing them, he said if he is reelected he will “certainly remain interested in the needs and concerns of those communities.”

“Addressing needs for all Central Maui will remain my priority,” he added.

Reflecting upon past reapportionment changes in 2010, Keith-Agaran said that also shifted communities in his then-Kahului House seat. And, as the population continues to grow, he expects more changes in 2030, the year of the next reapportionment, as there may be more homes adjacent to the Maui Tropical Plantation toward Maalaea, and perhaps on the land makai of Honoapiilani Highway between Waikapu Gardens and Kehalani Makai.

Another area for growth is the rest of the slope below Wailuku Heights, Keith-Agaran said.

Waikapu Community Association President Travis Polido said that overall the community feels that “Waikapu should remain a part of Central Maui with the same House and Senate representatives that would advocate for needs that are specific and important to Central Maui.”

Community members testified before the Reapportionment Commission’s Maui Advisory Council in November and also before the Reapportionment Commission at its public hearing in December, Polido said.

Letters have also been sent in opposition to the current proposals on the books.

“Alternative solutions were discussed that would help keep our Waikapu community intact while meeting the requirements for redistricting,” Polido said. “We are awaiting the final decision from the state Reapportionment Commission.”

To testify on the proposed districts, and for more information on meetings and proposed maps by island, see elections.hawaii.gov/about-us/boards-and-commissions/reapportionment/.

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

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