Charmaine Tavares makes one last Molokai Stop

Mayoral candidate Charmaine Tavares does not hate chickens. She does not oppose funding for the new fire station, and despite her roots in a famous Republican family, she does not belong to any political party in the state of Hawaii. In front of a large crowd of supporters gathered at One Alii park last Thursday, Tavares cleared up a couple of rumors in a lighthearted public speech, and in a later interview discussed everything from her party affiliation to her feelings on La`au Point development and affordable housing. Tavares explained that Maui would not be affected by a proposed bill banning roosters and other specified fowl from residentially zoned Maui county areas. Hana, Molokai and Lanai are exempt from the bill, which has been introduced in the council in various forms for the past 15 years. Regarding the new fire station funding, Tavares said she voted for it – in fact the council vote was unanimous – and got a bad rap for asking a few questions about ways to reduce building costs. The mayor’s race has received much public attention this year, explained Tavares between bites of the chicken heke served at her community dinner, her “first real meal in days.” “I’ve never before seen so many forums and debates,” said Tavares. “It shows that people are really interested in the issues. But unfortunately I also have a day job…I’m on the council!” Tavares says she sees one of the biggest issues in the county as growth or the regulation of permits to allow for it. “The question for me is always ‘Who are we growing for?’” she said, noting that the question applies very much to development issues on Molokai and affordable housing concerns. Regarding the Ranch’s Master Land Use Plan, she declined to take an official position. “I don’t have any opinion about La`au because it’s for the community to decide,” she said. But she did offer some general commentary on the issue. “I hate to see issues that split the community like this. It’s sad to see that kind of stuff. In cases like this you have to consider whether it makes sense to find some kind of activity or industry that better matches the lifestyle of Molokai.” Tavares said she respects Molokai’s agricultural tradition. “I would like to see agriculture be a bigger part of the economy here,” she said, and added that she would like to see an investment in biofuels and alternative energy using non-GMO crops. When asked where she differs from the current mayor, Tavares stressed her commitment to affordable housing. “The Mayor believes we don’t need any more affordable housing,” she said. “But when you have people standing in line two nights to get a lottery number for a house that costs 400 or 500 thousand dollars then you have a problem.” Tavares, who in Hawaii belongs to no party officially, says it is hard to walk the non-partisan walk. “It’s hard when you come from a very famous Republican family…with a very Republican father,” she said. The Maui News recently reported that Tavares voted for democrats Al Gore and John Kerry in the last two elections. “I try to focus on the issues, because that’s what’s important,” said Tavares. “You don’t have a Republican pothole or a Democrat pothole. It’s just a pothole.”


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