Mayor Arakawa speaks at Biz Fest

Incumbent mayor Alan Arakawa spoke to our reporter at the 8th Annual Maui Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce event


Photo by Kainoa Deguilmo

The office of the mayor distributed souvenir coins before session one at the 8th Annual Maui Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce Business Fest at the Grand Wailea, Oct. 2. Mayour Alan Arakawa and his opponent, Ms. Tamara Paltin, spoke and answered questions during the session. Select Kamehmeha Maui students were in attendance.

By Kainoa Deguilmo, sports writer

WAILEA — Mayor Alan Arakawa spoke about issues he saw in the community as well as his plans and actions for the future, at the 8th Annual Maui Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce Business Festival.

Students from Kamehameha Maui and members of the Maui and Hawaiian community were there to hear from Mayor Arakawa and other politicians and prominent community members at the Grand Wailea hotel, Thursday, October 2.

“Students need to come to these because it provides balance in the community and it also reminds them about what’s going on,” said Mr. Kai Pelayo, president of the Maui Economic Opportunity Board, who  was the master of ceremonies at the event.

This year, Mayor Arakawa is running against Tamara Paltin. Ms. Paltin is currently in the County Ocean Safety Office. She is the president of the Save Honolua Coalition and a member of the Maui Nui Marine Resource Council. She has also been a shop steward with the Hawaiʻi Government Employees Association.

Arakawa, who has been mayor since 2011, is a former member of the Maui County Council. For part of that time, he served as the Chair of the Planning, Parks, and Land Use committees. Previous to that, the mayor worked as a supervisor in the wastewater division of the Maui County Public Works Department.

The candidates spoke during the first session of the business fest, which was the Maui County Election Forum.

Mayor Arakawa identified one problem that he sees in the Native Hawaiian population — underrepresentation in preschools.

“They have made many successful cultural movements,” he said, “but they still tend to struggle with early childhood education. At the moment, they can’t send their kids to preschool. As a result, those kids learn and grasp things at a slower rate than the kids who have already went to preschool. So that would be a common problem.”

Mayor Arakawa also addressed what he is doing to address housing issues.

“We are identifying and creating homes in Waihe’e, Kula and other locations. Many people are getting homes and organizations are understanding rules and passing regulations,” he said.

He also spoke about the development of film and high-tech industries on Maui.

“A lot of people are CEOs of high-tech companies and films, and they come to visit Maui. We are working on establishing something with them and working things out,” he said.

Making all these pieces fit requires what the mayor referred to as a “jig saw” mentality.

“Take different components and problems, such as the parks in Hāna, the film industry, funding, and new business,” he said. “These are little pieces of the puzzle of our community. Nahiku wants a community center, Upcountry wants a new gymnasium, working with the water department on delivering water, each piece is very critical.” Arakawa also added, “You have to work with all the parts. When you plan, you are planning for the entire community. You are determining the future for the next generation. Each component is not only necessary for today, but for the next 25, 50, 100 years.”

I did not get the opportunity to sit with Ms. Paltin, but she is running on a platform founded on sustainability and self-sufficiency with three identified pillars of leadership: “community based, community driven [and] managing better together,” according to her official election website.

For more information on Paltinʻs views, click here to be taken to the Tamara Paltin for Maui Mayor site.

After each candidateʻs speech, they answered questions submitted by the audience, and students got a good look at the two candidates running for mayor this November.

“Watching all the different candidates and hearing their views was very interesting today,” Pelayo said. “When Paltin was up with Arakawa, it was interesting to see their presentations and how they had their own ideas of plans for the future if elected.”