by Mark Hyde
The May 4, 2016, edition of the Maui News contained an editorial urging the County Council to reject the Special Committee on Governance's recommendation to retain an elected mayor while employing a professional manager hired by the County Council to manage day-to-day county operations. While the newspaper's view is understandable, many in our community have expressed a desire to retain an elected mayor/single point of contact, and some have expressed distrust of the Council. Ultimately, changing the way the county’s day-to-day operations are managed is a core feature of council manager government. The model recommended by the Special Committee will achieve this much needed outcome while affording a check on Council excesses, real or perceived, through mayoral veto power.
Furthermore, because an elected mayor in the new format will not have responsibility for day-to-day operations, the number of staff needed by the next mayor will be significantly less than that of the current mayor. This will address the paper’s concern that a bloated mayoral/executive staff will continue after adoption of a new charter as proposed.
From the outset many in our community have said that Maui is different from other places and that we need our own model, not that used elsewhere. The Special Committee’s recommendation is just that - a tailored approach in line with the desires of the people of Maui and its history. It’s a win-win for our diverse, four island county.
Once the proposed governance model is formally adopted by the Special Committee and then delivered to the County Council for action, the Council should clear the way to place the measure on the November ballot for the people to decide what form of local government they want to serve their needs. Maui’s future will undoubtedly be more complex and demanding; the Special Committee’s proposed structure will better position us to meet these challenges.