VIDEO: Mayor Reserves Judgement on GMO Debate

May 27, 2014, 12:24 PM HST · Updated May 27, 5:39 PM
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Mayor remains neutral on GMO debate. Maui Now montage.

Mayor maintains neutrality on GMO debate. Maui Now montage.

By Wendy Osher

Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa is keeping a neutral stance on the GMO debate as a petition has surfaced seeking a moratorium on the cultivation of genetically-engineered organisms or GMOs in Maui County.

“I think first of all, the system has been set up so anybody who wants to put anything on the [ballot], the way to do this is to either get the Council to pass a resolution, or to go by petition. So any organization or group that wants to be able to put something there, this is the proper way to do it,” said Mayor Arakawa in an exclusive interview.

The anti-GMO group, the SHAKA Movement filed a petition with the County Clerk to get the item placed on the November ballot, but an early count shows less than half of the 9,768 signatures submitted, or 4,720 of those signatures were deemed valid.

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The group is now tasked with obtaining 3,745 more valid signatures from registered voters within a 20-day timeline in order for the petition to move forward in the Charter-mandated process.

“They’re going to be getting signatures, and if they can get enough signatures, it will go on the [ballot] for the voters to look at — I think that’s fair. As the process goes, I think the voters will have to take a look at what the bill actually requires, and to see whether or not they approve or disapprove of it — and that’s also fair. This is the way the system should work,” said Arakawa.

“I’m not going to argue one way or the other, because it’s going to be up to the different groups to be able to make their point publicly about it. As the administrator, we’ll administrate whatever rules are in place and we’ll see where it goes from there,” he said.

***Correction: The county administration says the SHAKA Movement has submitted an Initiative Petition to propose an ordinance, and not a petition for a Charter Amendment, as the mayor had incorrectly stated.
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