Ask the Mayor: Why Do Council Members Have Backs to Audience?

May 8, 2018, 11:24 AM HST · Updated May 8, 11:24 AM
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Mayor Alan Arakawa answers some of the most-asked questions submitted to his staff.

Aloha Mayor,

Q: I see you are running for a council seat. Now, council members turn their backs to the audience in Maui County Council Chambers. That conveys a message that the constituency is to be ignored.

It is very unusual, as most chambers feature the council facing the audience.

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Would you support changing that seating arrangement?

A: I actually feel the same way you do. In fact, back when I was a councilman, former Councilmember Sol Kaho‘ohalahala came in to the council chambers one night and took the seats apart and tried to turn them around.

We’re the only council in the state that is set up with the backs to the audience. Our attempts didn’t work.

Later, in 2012 I believe, the council looked into what it would cost to reconfigure the seating and from what I heard back then, the work was priced around $500,000.

This is where our County Campus project would have been a good investment. We could have added more parking for the public, enabled us to stop renting and leasing and move some of our departments into our own building and, the council would have been able to redesign a new council chamber for themselves.

Submit your own questions about County of Maui programs, services, operations or policies to Mayor Alan Arakawa at [email protected], (808) 270-7855 or mail them to 200 S. High St., 9th Floor, Wailuku, HI 96793.

Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the “Ask the Mayor” column.

This column originally appeared in publication on Feb. 13, 2013.

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