Maui News

Elmer Cravalho, Maui’s First Mayor Dies

June 28, 2016, 8:17 AM HST
* Updated June 28, 3:14 PM
Listen to this Article
4 minutes
Loading Audio... Article will play after ad...
Playing in :00

Photo by Wendy Osher.

Photo by Wendy Osher.

Maui’s first mayor, Elmer Cravalho died last night, Maui Now confirmed with the Rod Antone from the Office of Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa.

Cravalho was elected to the Territorial House of Representatives in 1955 and served as speaker from 1959 to 1967.

He was elected Mayor of Maui County in 1969 and served for ten years before a sudden departure after winning a second term in 1978, according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

His vacancy was filled by the late Hannibal Tavares.

“I’ve known Mayor Cravalho since I was a child. He was a very intelligent man, had a soft heart for people and wasn’t afraid to make a decision or take a chance,” said Mayor Alan Arakawa.


“Maui certainly would not be the prosperous place it is today if not for him, those number one rankings that Maui gets for ‘Best Island’ and best place to visit are all because of his vision.


“Even after he left office Mayor Cravalho continued to help people when he joined Kula Community Federal Credit Union. He helped almost every farmer stay afloat during tough times, myself included, sometimes on nothing more than a handshake.

“He was a remarkable and amazing man, along with being my mentor and a personal friend. I will personally miss him very much and Ann and I offer our sincerest condolences to his family. Our community joins them in their sorrow.”



“An era has passed with Elmer Cravalho. He was iconic in local politics and a guiding force in creating the State of Hawai‘i. Elmer was renowned in Maui County for helping the new immigrants from the Philippines integrate into the United States to become a vibrant part of our community. He was also an architect of Maui’s infrastructure and development by limiting growth to the South and West side of the island to preserve the natural beauty on the East and North side. My sincere condolences go out to the Cravahlo family.”

– Senate Majority Leader, Senator J. Kalani English
State Senate District 7
(Hana, East and Upcountry Maui, Moloka‘i, Lana‘i, Kaho‘olawe)

“I am saddened by the passing of Mayor Elmer Cravalho. He was one of the remaining bridges between the Plantation era where everyone had some link to agriculture to today’s Maui that relies heavily on the visitor industry and construction. He worked to make sure the local community and working people received some tangible and lasting benefits from the rapid development growth that followed statehood. He may have received some criticism for how he negotiated those benefits but I will always admire how he stood up for folks who were committed to living on Maui and raising our families here. Mayor Cravalho was also always a great friend of the Filipino community and helped open up opportunities for Filipinos to contribute to Maui’s civic life. My condolences to my friends Karolyn and Ronald and the entire Browning ‘ohana.”

– Senator Gilbert S.C. Keith-Agaran
State Senate District 5
(Kahului- Puunene- Wailuku- Waiehu- Waihee)

“I am truly sorry about the passing of Elmer Carvalho. He was a masterful legislative leader and an inspirational politician who cared deeply for his community. Elmer worked hard for the everyday person and stood up for their best interests. You could always see him in the community talking story over a cup of coffee as he was the kind of man who was always approachable. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall while he was Speaker of the House because I know I would have learned a lot from him. While his loss will be felt by many, he left a great legacy for all of us in Maui County.”

– Senator Rosalyn H. Baker
State Senate District 6
(South and West Maui)


House Speaker Joseph Souki remembers former Maui Mayor Elmer Cravalho, as a smart business man and a caring person totally devoted to the people of Maui.

“He will be remembered as a strong negotiator for the people of Maui,” said Souki. “Under his leadership both in business and politics, the island of Maui has prospered.”

Cravalho died June 27 on Maui.

In 1954, Cravalho rose to prominence during the Hawaii’s Democratic Party revolution. He served as speaker of the state and territorial House from 1958 to 1967.

Cravalho had the honor of relaying a message from Governor John Burns in Washington, D.C. to a crowded House of Representatives, then chambered in Iolani Palace, that the U.S. Congress approved statehood for Hawaii.

“He was a great man and a good friend. He will be dearly missed.”

Hirono Statement On Passing Of Elmer Cravalho

Senator Mazie K. Hirono released the following statement on the passing of former Hawaii House of Representatives speaker, Maui mayor, and businessman Elmer Cravalho:

“Mayor Cravalho was a politically astute visionary. He cared for Maui first and foremost and his primary concern during his time in public office was to do what was best for Maui County. One of the areas where Elmer left a lasting impact is the diversification of Maui’s economy. He was a leader in developing and growing Maui’s visitor industry. We are thankful to Mayor Cravalho. My thoughts are with his ohana.”

E-Mail Newsletters Receive daily or weekly updates via e-mail. Subscribe Now
News Alerts Breaking news alerts on your mobile device. Get the App


This comments section is a public community forum for the purpose of free expression. Although Maui Now encourages respectful communication only, some content may be considered offensive. Please view at your own discretion. View Comments