“Recall Mayor Victorino” Initiative Aims to Obtain 21,586 Signatures in 30 Days
October 25, 2021, 2:20 PM HST
* Updated October 27, 9:04 AM
An initiative seeking to recall Maui Mayor Michael Victorino, was launched with a public event held over the weekend. A group of grassroots organizers kicked off their effort to collect more than 21,000 valid signatures in 30 days from Maui County residents.
Group leaders say they are seeking Mayor Victorino’s removal as they stand in opposition to ongoing emergency health mandates, calling the county government practices an “overreach” of powers.
Mayor Victorino responded to our request for comment saying: “I support the right of the people to initiate a recall effort. After more than a year of dealing with a worldwide pandemic, I want the people of Maui County to know that my decisions were guided by the needs of people and the best available advice of medical experts and professionals across many sectors. I made the hard decisions that kept our community safe while working toward an eventual economic recovery. Aside from the governor’s first lock-down at the pandemic’s start, the County of Maui never shut down and continued to serve all residents. We are just now emerging from the worst public health and economic crises in our history and we will continue to move forward. Finally, I want to thank the many people who have contacted my office with kind words of encouragement and support.”
Organizers with RecallVictorino.org say Saturday’s event, held on the front lawn of the Kalana O Maui Building in Wailuku, drew an estimated 300 people. Attendees picked up “petition packets” for themselves and friends, with 500 of the 1,000 prepared packets distributed on Saturday.
The remaining petition packets will be available at six pickup locations and businesses around the island, and at upcoming rallies and events, including another event set for Wednesday, Oct. 27 from 4 to 6 p.m. at Kalama Park in Kīhei.
The group submitted an affidavit with the County Clerk’s office on Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021 to begin the legal process of seeking a recall.
Organizers say the 21,586 signatures needed for a recall special election, represents 20% of the 107,930 active and inactive voters in the 2020 election. The validity of including inactive voters (which could include deceased, individuals who have moved away, or those who are no longer involved in the election process in the past 10 years) will be challenged by this organization.
If a recall election is successful, then Managing Director Sandy Baz would become acting mayor until the next general election.
After submitting signatures, the County Clerk would have 20 days to verify the signatures, and petitioners would have an additional 20 days to collect supplemental signatures to make up for any that could not be validated.
“It seems the main reason people are being motivated to recall the mayor is because he continues to curate unrealistic mandates pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic instead of promoting early treatment alternatives and preventative care. Many involved are parents who cannot watch their children play sports, and those parents of children who cannot play sports due to the vaccine mandate – although there are many who seem called to rally for other reasons as well,” organizers said in a press release.
The County of Maui has welcomed spectators back since Oct. 16, but that did not include MIL or Department of Education sanctioned activities. Starting today, parents of the student-athletes of the home/host team will be allowed to attend in person MIL events under specified guidelines outlined by league officials.
The latest version of the County’s amended Public Health Emergency Rules allow for
- Social gatherings of up to 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors.
- Extending times for bars and restaurants from to midnight.
- Inviting 10 guests per table
- Unvaccinated patrons who receive a negative COVID-19 test 48 hours prior to dining, may be allowed to dine indoors.
- Inviting spectators for outdoor organizations to stay in their household pods of 10, but to keep gatherings at a minimum–no more than 25 in a particular group.
Brett Sherwood, who spoke on behalf of the organization For Our Rights said the group is challenging the time limit on the county’s emergency orders. “We are no longer in a state of emergency. Where’s the emergency? If you look around right now, it’s been 18 months since these emergency proclamations have been continuously renewed and our mayor does not have the authority to continue to do that. So we need to recall him from office based on the fact that him and Governor Ige are violating Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes regarding our public health emergency laws.”
Fellow attendee, Stacy Ribucan spoke at the event saying, “He’s not protecting my children’s freedom of choice. So It’s Mama Bear’s time to stand up and clean this house… Freedom of choice is my mantra and I think we need to stand up for all of the children here on Maui, and we don’t have a Papa Bear that’s caring for his flock.”
Paul Romero, resident and owner of Mākena Cross Fit said, “From day one, we have never complied with the mandates and never will… I knew this was wrong from the start and I stood my ground… It’s mind boggling how these small businesses are dealing and complying with absolutely zero enforcement happening, zero accountability to comply with these mandates.”
“We are stepping up for our rights,” said Sheila Walker, who described herself as a nationalist, patriot, and constitutionalist. “I’m doing this because I believe in our constitution, and I believe in our first and second amendment rights, and I will fight ’til my death to maintain our rights, and to protect our children.
The primary organizer is Sheila Walker with Cullan Bell, Paul Romero and Daniel Smith, who joined in submitting the affidavit. Organizational support includes participation from fellow residents: Napua Hueu, Zachary Grossman, Shelby Thomson, Bianca Antonio, Stacy Ribucan, Brett Sherwood, Sara Oner, and Satya and Bruce Douglas.
On Friday, Mayor Victorino met with the other county mayors, Governor David Ige, state Health Director Dr. Elizabeth Char, and Major General Kenneth Hara to discuss plans to further ease public restrictions statewide in the upcoming week, provided that COVID numbers continue to trend in the right direction.“
“Gen. Hara and Gov. Ige are working on a plan to lift restrictions that is structured, orderly, and in a way to prevent another spike in infections as we approach the holiday season. We want everyone to have a great but safe and healthy holiday season,” said Mayor Victorino during a Friday press briefing.
“Part of the plan will include increasing vaccination rates,” said Mayor Victorino, who received his booster shot at Maui Memorial Medical Center on Friday. “I want everyone to understand that we are not out of the woods. We’re in a better place, but we have to be vigilant. We’ve got to pay attention to what’s going on around us.”
*Maui Now reached out to Mayor Victorino’s office for comment on Monday morning. This story was updated to reflect comments received on Tuesday morning.