Moving into 2021 with a renewed commitment to Maui County


“When day comes, we step out of the shade, aflame and unafraid. The new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it, if only we’re brave enough to be it.”

This is my favorite verse from “The Hill We Climb” by Amanda Gorman, the 22-year-old youth poet laureate who dazzled the nation with her stirring presentation during the inauguration ceremony for President Joseph Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Jan. 20.

Considering all we have been through over the last year, I want to assure Lanai, Maui and Molokai residents that your County Council has the conviction and fortitude to forge through the coming year’s challenges — both foreseen and unforeseen.

We will strive to be a light for the community, embracing our kuleana and committing to doing what’s best for all of Maui County. This is our promise to you.

As we begin our new council term with renewed vigor and determination, our focus on our community’s health and safety remains paramount.

We are committed to calling for more parity in vaccine allocations and continuing support to families and businesses through the ongoing effects of the pandemic.

With the onset of digital communication becoming the new norm, we will work to increase opportunities for our community to stay involved in the legislative process and improve direct access to council members. Our hope is to encourage more discussion.

This includes conducting more online town hall meetings, increasing social media presence, improving the convenience of giving testimony with the new eComment feature and continuing to prioritize solutions that encourage interaction with our constituents.

We are looking to implement new a communications platform called GovDelivery. This tool will offer the opportunity for constituents to identify legislative items of interest and opt into text messages or emails to stay informed about legislation’s progress.

We will continue to look at innovative ways to engage our youth and keep them connected to key issues. Most recently, we announced our ‘Imi Pono Competition winners, empowering high and middle school students to seek innovative ways to support revitalizing the economy. The results were resounding and proved the value our youth has to offer.

Winners from the contest included ideas for vertical greenhouses, a show that highlights local businesses, an innovative sprinkler system that saves water, a program to build desks to support homeschooling, hydroponic farming to increase food productivity and traditional medical practices adopted by Native Hawaiians.

With an outpouring of enthusiasm from teachers and students, we are in the process of planning an ongoing series of ‘Imi Pono activities.

Most recently, we began working with Maui Economic Opportunity, Maui Chamber of Commerce and others to develop a program that provides students with guidance, resources and information related to their field of interest.

As we move into our 2021-2023 council term with eight standing committees, established by Resolution 21-4, Draft 1, we are ready to tackle full and substantive agendas.

Tasks facing the council and its committees this year include some of the most consequential in memory:

• Protecting local residents and businesses with diligent efforts to combat COVID-19.

• Updating the West Maui Community Plan and Maui’s Water Use and Development Plan.

• Establishing the Charter Commission, the Conservation Planning Committee and Commission on Healing Solutions for Homelessness.

• Continuing to seek more affordable housing and mitigate the effects of climate change.

• Diversifying and growing the economy with prudent investments in infrastructure, agriculture and environmentally sustainable, high-wage industries.

With a challenging year ahead of us, I am optimistic and excited for what lies before us. We are ready and positioned to start the year with enthusiasm, diligence and an innovative perspective for Maui County’s best interests.

* Alice L. Lee is the Chair of the Maui County Council. She holds the County Council seat for the Wailuku-Waihee-Waikapu residency area. “Council’s 3 Minutes” is a column to explain the latest news on county legislative matters. Go to mauicounty.us for more information.


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