Yuki Lei Sugimura named Maui County Council vice chairperson with 7-2 vote
February 18, 2023, 7:00 AM HST
Maui County Council on Friday night named Upcountry Council Member Yuki Lei Sugimura as council vice chairperson.
The organizational decision was delayed due to an election challenge that eventually determined Alice Lee had won the council’s Wailuku-Waiheʻe-Waikapū seat. Lee was then named council chairperson with a 9-0 vote.
During Friday’s council meeting, Council Member Tasha Kama made the motion for Sugimura to be vice chair, which was seconded by Council Member Nohelani U’u-Hodgins.
“Council Member Sugimura is the member of this body with the most seniority,” Kama said. “I believe that she can effectively serve in the role as vice chair for this body.”
Sugimura’s nomination for vice chairperson didn’t go without pushback, though. The 7-2 vote reflected opposition by council members Keani Rawlins-Fernandez and Tamara Paltin.
After Sugimura was nominated by Kama, Rawlins-Fernandez countered, motioning instead for U’u-Hodgins to serve as vice chairperson. Council Member Shane Sinenci seconded.
“In her short time being on the council, I’ve seen her make great efforts to work collaboratively to bring us together and I really appreciate that in this term. It’s been kind of tumultuous,” Rawlins-Fernandez said about U’u-Hodgins. “And I think it’s good for us to share the titles and not hoard them. How amazing would it be to have our youngest council member to be a vice chair of our council. I love lifting up our next gen.”
U’u-Hodgins thanked the two but declined. The motion was then withdrawn.
“You guys are so kind but I would feel super uncomfortable doing that, but thank you so much. I do really appreciate you guys’ vote of confidence,” she said.
Before the vote on Sugimura as vice chair, Rawlins-Fernandez voiced opposition.
“Budget chair, Kula Ag Park committee, MPO, vice chair — there are nine of us, and it would be good to share kuleana with the other members on the council and not hoard them all,” she said. “So I will be voting against the motion.”
Sugimura was recently named the chairperson of the council’s Budget, Finance, and Economic Development Committee. In the last term, Rawlins-Fernandez held the position of budget committee leader and council vice chairperson.
Also during Friday’s meeting, the council voted unanimously to adopt a resolution that names Council Member Tasha Kama as pro tempore.