Maui Discussion

Ask the Mayor: Why are So Many Columns about State Issues, Projects?

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Ask the Mayor

Mayor Alan Arakawa answers some of the most-asked questions submitted to his office staff.

Dear Mayor:

Q: Why is it that so many of the “Ask the Mayor” questions are about state issues and projects? Shouldn’t you stick to answering county-related topics?


A: Aloha and thank you for your question. When we began this column we knew that we would receive some questions about topics that were outside of our county jurisdiction, but we never expected so many state issues.


The reality is that the average person may not know which services/roads/facilities/programs are provided or maintained by the state, and which are handled by the county.

In some cases, there is overlap, such as with the air ambulance, which is a county-funded state service, or county lifeguards at the state-operated Mākena Beach. So it is reasonable to expect that folks often don’t know who to ask–or who to blame.

We receive many questions about state roads and highways, and about issues that are handled by various state departments such as health, agriculture and land and natural resources. However, oftentimes we provide a response to these questions because they have a wide impact in our community, and the column provides an opportunity to help educate people about the different responsibilities of state and county government.


Counties are usually in charge of local infrastructure and day-to-day operations of a community, such as police, fire, trash pick-up, sewer, water and county roads. Everything else usually falls to the state and/or federal government, including state roadways between towns and roads that service transportation centers such as airports and harbors.

If you have a state concern, you can contact any state department directly, or you contact the governor or lieutenant governor’s offices as well. Since Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui was born and raised on Maui, he can be a good point of contact for our local residents. In the meantime, we will continue to do our best to answer questions that have a wide impact in our community.

Thank you for reading!

Want to Ask the Mayor?

Submit your questions about County of Maui programs, services, operations or policies to Mayor Alan Arakawa via email at [email protected], by phone at 270-7855 or by mail to 200 S. High St., 9th Floor, Wailuku, HI 96793. Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the Ask the Mayor column.

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