Maui County Council elects Kama as chair; 8 members await court decision on 9th seat
January 2, 2023, 3:37 PM HST
* Updated January 2, 4:19 PM
Saying that Maui County Council Member Tasha Kama has a broad base of support from the community and stalling on a decision to find a council leader would hurt the community, the council during its organizational meeting today voted unanimously to elect Kama as council chair.
The vote of 8-0 to elect Kama as chair reflects an absent member from the Wailuku-Waiheʻe-Waikapū residency seat. The position, previously held by Alice Lee, remains unseated because district results are being challenged by a state Supreme Court complaint and the court has not yet decided.
If council did not elect a chairperson today, its staff, committees and key decisions could be in peril, according to Council Member Tamara Paltin, who motioned for Kama to be elected as chair.
“It’s so important for us to nominate a chair today so we can hire our staff, so that we can be ready to respond to any and all situations that can arise before we nominate a chair,” Paltin said.
She added that Kama in the past has shown leadership in public speaking and in representing the council.
“Prior to the election she had a broad base of support from either side of the issues,” Paltin said.
“Council Member Kama did receive broad support from all of our community members,” echoed Council Member Keani Rawlins-Fernandez. “That’s who we serve here — our residents of Maui County.”
In accepting the role, Kama, whose residency seat covers Kahului, thanked members for their confidence and support. In a statement after the vote, she described the role as interim.
“It is with great humility that I have accepted the role of council chair, even as we await the confirmation of our ninth member,” Kama said. “In that sense, I see my seat as chair as an interim one, to facilitate the urgent organizational work of the council until such time that our body is complete.”
“It is imperative that we get to work right away on pressing issues facing the council, including appointing the county clerk, deputy county clerk and our council services leadership and staff,” she added. “The functions of the council cannot proceed until these key roles are confirmed, so I have accepted this temporary role to ensure we can move forward as a body as a whole.”
The council’s organizational meeting is the first meeting of the year and of the new term. Maui County Council inauguration for the 2023-25 term was held this morning during a ceremony at the county building.