Arakawa Inauguration Address: Complete Text and Video
Posted by Wendy Osher
Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa outlined ways he planned to address the economy, jobs, water, housing and sustainability during his inaugural address.
[flashvideo file=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFw_z_31njk /] “For the economy, we will streamline the permitting process, not just for the construction industry but for local families and local businesses, many of whom cannot afford to remodel their homes or stores because the cost of permits alone is more than their renovations.
Arakawa said he planned to stimulate job growth by finding new and creative avenues to generate revenue for the county.
“We are looking at opening concessions at county parks, aggressively pursuing government grants and becoming a leader in the field of agricultural technology,” said Arakawa.
For water, Arakawa pledged to get water to both farmers and landowners who want to build homes saying the community has suffered too long from the problem. As for affordable housing, Arakawa suggested a program in which foreclosed homes could be repaired and put back on the market at affordable prices.
In the area of sustainability, Arakawa said he planned to continue initiatives set by the previous administration, but also look at more ways to go green, “…whether that means developing land to increase food production or developing alternative energy, such as generating methane at our county landfill.”
While focusing on creating a business friendly future, Arakawa said it would never be at the expense of land or the environment.
Arakawa said the work has already begun to meet with schools and businesses, nonprofits and unions, and with the governor and other mayors, to make plans and set deadlines.
“We’ve hit the ground running because we’ve been here before. There is no learning curve for us which means we can move faster and more efficiently,” said Arakawa.
“It also means we don’t have to make the same mistakes again,” he said.
“I pledge that my administration will do everything possible to create these opportunities for success. And when those doors open, you must be prepared to walk through. I have no doubt that you will,” said Arakawa.
Complete TEXT of Mayor Alan Arakawa’s Inaugural Message:
“Council chairman Mateo, County Council members, Senate President Tsutsui and other senators, Speaker Emeritus Souki and other representatives, and distinguished guests, good evening and aloha.
Thank you for joining me today on this occasion, which I’d like to start off by acknowledging Mayor Charmaine Tavares. Mayor Tavares did much to help make this transition process a smooth one. She has been gracious and cooperative and so has her staff and her department heads. I thank her for her service and the rest of the county does as well.
Mayor Tavares has done her part, and now it is time for the rest of us to do ours. As Ronald Reagan once said, “We must act today in order to preserve tomorrow.”
We will accomplish this by working together, from county park staffers to council committee members, from the small business owner to upscale resort workers. We all need to do our part, because this mess of an economy we’re in isn’t going to straighten itself out on its own.
It may take months or even years but we will make this county a better place to do business and to live for our generation and for generations to come.
But I want to make something very clear. We have a lot to do and not much time to do it. The voters have spoken for three election cycles now and they have made it clear that they want to see results.
It did hurt me to lose this office four years ago. But, in many ways, it was a blessing in disguise. It was during that time that my wife’s father got sick and needed the family to look after him. He has advanced dementia and is now at Hale Makua. We did our best to make him comfortable at home but he needs full time care that we could not provide any longer.
Still, caring for him at all is something we could not have done had I remained mayor. I often reflect upon that and how life works sometimes. I think maybe every one of you out there has a story about how life threw you a curve ball in the last four years. Maybe you lost your job or couldn’t pay your mortgage. Maybe you’ve had family members move in with you while they get back on their feet financially. Maybe your marriage has fallen apart over arguments about bills or maybe your retirement is all gone now.
The bottom line is the world is a very different place now. Maui County is a different place. Everything is constantly evolving, myself included. And so must we as a county and community.
This economy has forced all of us to take a hard look at ourselves. We’ve had to reflect and reprioritize our lives and decide what is really important to us.
And I remember what was important to you. The same things that so many of you spoke to me about over the years, namely the economy, jobs, housing, water and sustainability.
I pledge to honor the priorities you have set by doing what I’ve always done, by acting upon them.
For the economy, we will streamline the permitting process, not just for the construction industry but for local families and local businesses, many of whom cannot afford to remodel their homes or stores because the cost of permits alone is more than their renovations.
By finding new and creative avenues to generate revenue for the county, we will stimulate job growth. We are looking at opening concessions at county parks, aggressively pursuing government grants and becoming a leader in the field of agricultural technology.
In terms of water, I pledge that the water department will get water to the people. This means that farmers will actually be able to farm and landowners will actually be able to build homes. Our community has suffered too long from this problem and it must end.
We will also actively pursue affordable housing projects. One way is through a program which purchases foreclosed homes, repairs them and puts them back on the market at affordable prices.
Lastly, we need to find more ways to become sustainable, whether that means developing land to increase food production or developing alternative energy, such as generating methane at our county landfill. We will also continue the green initiatives set by the previous administration.
On this point, I want to make it clear, we want the county to be as business friendly as possible, but never at the expense of our land or our environment.
And to the county council members I pledge to work together with you on every issue.
Let us remember that our problems more often than not should unite us rather than divide us.
It is time to forget old grudges and old arguments. The county needs our cooperation more than ever. Let us forgive each other and move forward.
And for you, the county worker, your time is now. Maui County can only be 100 percent efficient if you are 100 percent efficient. Each one of you is important, and each one of you matters.
Without you, the people of Maui County cannot conduct their business. I promise you every tool and resource for you to do your jobs but along that comes accountability.
We are all public servants and every action we take needs to be for the good of the community.
I also pledge that each and every one of my appointees will be held to the highest standard. They are the best that I could find; some of them even worked against me during the election.
But experience and creativity mean more to me than politics and so they stand here before you ready to serve.
In fact, they have already been working. We all have from day one. We’ve been meeting with schools and businesses, nonprofits and unions, with the governor and other mayors, two of whom are here today – Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle and Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho. Together, we’ve been making plans and setting deadlines.
We’ve hit the ground running because we’ve been here before. There is no learning curve for us which means we can move faster and more efficiently. It also means we don’t have to make the same mistakes again.
I’ve made mistakes in the past which I’ve reflected upon over the last four years. Now, I have a second chance to make things right again.
We all have a second chance, another opportunity to get it right. But opportunities only work if you take advantage of them. Remember that government is not the solution to this economy. You are, our community. Your creativity and your determination and your hard work are the county’s best resource.
As John F. Kennedy once said, “In your hands my fellow citizens, more than mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course.”
I pledge that my administration will do everything possible to create these opportunities for success. And when those doors open, you must be prepared to walk through.
I have no doubt that you will. Thank you, and God bless.” –Mayor Alan Arakawa