Molokai and Hawaii – Island Politics

Molokai First Stop on Mayor’s Tour

Wednesday, March 8th, 2023

Maui County News Release 

Mayor Richard Bissen is launching Holomua Kakou to bring county government to the diverse communities that make up Maui County.

“Each community is unique, yet we are connected as one county,” Bissen said. “Our residents have busy lives with work and activities, and we appreciate the time everyone can share with us.”

The “Mayor Bissen and Your Team in Your Town” events will begin on Molokai on Wednesday, March 15 and Thursday, March 16, and feature two days of staff available from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Mitchell Pauole Center’s conference room for residents to drop in with any questions or requests for assistance.…

Legal Battles Over Well 17 and Kawela Stream Continue

Wednesday, February 1st, 2023

By Jack Kiyonaga, Community Reporter 

Two long disputed water resources, Well 17 and Kawela Stream, are gradually making headway towards resolution. A panel of lawyers from Native Hawaiian and environmental legal firms, hosted by Councilmember Keani Rawlins-Fernandez and other Molokai residents, shared updates and legal avenues for resolution with a huge group of community members two weeks ago at Mitchell Pauole Center. 

Molokai Ranch has been withdrawing water from Well 17 for decades without a permit, while diverting water from Kawela Stream for nearly a century in what has shown to be in significant excess of the Ranch is actually using. …

Bissen Introduces Mayoral Agenda to Molokai

Wednesday, February 1st, 2023

By Jack Kiyonaga, Community Reporter 

On Jan. 24, Molokai greeted its new mayor Richard Bissen with song, lei and a wide selection of residents and representatives. 

Bissen, a former judge, accompanied Maui County Councilmember Keani Rawlins-Fernandez to her Molokai townhall meeting at the Mitchell Pauole Center. 

The evening was both an opportunity to “warmly embrace our new mayor” and to outline new mayoral policies and information, explained Rawlins-Fernandez. 

These townhall gatherings, started by Rawlins-Fernandez back in 2019, “make sure that information is being shared and that there is a two-way dialogue” between government officials and the community, she said. 

Bissen used the opportunity to concisely lay out his department and agenda. …

Planning for Managed Tourism

Wednesday, December 14th, 2022

By Sage Yamashita, Intern Reporter

On a small, rural island like Molokai, whose residents have fought for preservation of their cultural heritage and against overdevelopment, tourism is a controversial subject. Many residents welcomed the lack of visitors brought by the pandemic, while local businesses often suffer from drops in visitor numbers. In an effort to rebuild, redefine and reset the direction of tourism, the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) is making progress with the Molokai Destination Management Action Plan (DMAP). Over a three-year period, the plan’s focus is on the stabilization, recovery and rebuilding of the visitor industry for the island.

 “HTA was getting a lot of heat at the state legislature because in 2019, Hawaii had a record breaking number of tourists, over 10 million that came to Hawaii,” said Keani Rawlins-Fernandez, county councilmember for Molokai, and member of the HTA’s Molokai Task Force.…

Voters Decide Future

Wednesday, November 16th, 2022

Voters Decide Future

By Jack Kiyonaga, Community Reporter

The highly anticipated general election took place last Tuesday, Nov. 8 .  Residents voted in a new governor and new Maui County mayor, and three Molokai candidates were elected to state and county offices.

Democrat Lt. Gov. Josh Green defeated Republican candidate Duke Aiona 64 to 33 percent in the governor’s race. Hawaii voters re-elected Democrat Senator Brian Schatz in a lopsided 71 to 21 percent win over Republican challenger Bob McDermott.

Richard Bissen took 59 percent of the statewide vote to beat out incumbent Mike Victorino for Maui County Mayor.

Three Molokai candidates came out on top in competitive races for county councilmember, state representative and state senator.…

How to Vote and What Happens After That

Friday, November 4th, 2022

By Catherine Cluett Pactol | Editor

The deadline to vote in the general election is quickly approaching next Tuesday, Nov. 8. There are several ways you can make your voice count in this important opportunity to choose candidates who carry your vision for the future. There are four Molokai candidates on the ballot. 

If you’re already registered to vote and you received a ballot in the mail, you can return it by U.S. Postal Service up until Nov. 8. This is a departure from what the Dispatch previously reported, but Kathy Kaohu, county clerk whose office handles elections processing in Maui County, said an agreement with the Postal Service allows ballots mailed between now and Election Day to be processed separately from the rest of the mail. …

Ranked Choice Voting

Friday, November 4th, 2022

Governor Ige recently signed extremely limited Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) legislation which would allow voters an opportunity to “rank” candidates in a particular race.

How many times has one not voted for their preferred candidate for fear that someone they do not support would win? With RCV, one chooses the candidate they would most rather have for the specific position. If their preferred candidate does not receive the most votes, who would be a second choice for the voter?

The candidate with the fewest votes is removed and those voters who chose that individual then have their second choice receive their vote. This process continues until a candidate receives 50 percent plus one and they are then elected.…

Vote in the General Election

Friday, October 28th, 2022

By Catherine Cluett Pactol | Editor

It’s time to vote! The general election is quickly approaching and last week, Molokai registered voters received their ballots in the mail. The deadline for your ballot to be received is Tuesday, Nov. 8 so it must be postmarked in advance, or it can dropped off at the voter service center in Kaunakakai by Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. 

Now is the time to participate in this important part of community-building to voice your preference for candidates who align with your values and vision for the future. Along with candidates statewide, four Molokai residents appear on the ballot running for key seats in this election.…

Candidate Hui Tour to Molokai

Thursday, October 13th, 2022

‘Onipa‘a 2022 News Release 

‘Onipa‘a 2022, a hui that unites Council candidates Noelani Ahia, Nara Boone, Jordan Hocker, Gabe Johnson, Robin Knox, Tamara Paltin, Keani Rawlins-Fernandez, and Shane Sinenci, announced the launch of their district tour. The Molokai event will be on Oct. 27 at 11:30 a.m. at the Molokai Canoe Club.

‘Onipa‘a 2022, is a people’s movement, arising out of a decade of grassroots organizing, acknowledging hard-fought advancements that could be lost this election without voter participation.

Two years ago, for the first time in Maui County history, the Council gained a progressive majority of five members, which resulted in extensive legislation to manage tourism and reduce vacation rentals,  promote long-term, affordable housing opportunities for residents, create a department of agriculture to increase food security, address climate change and sea level rise impacts, care for our unsheltered ‘ohana, fund farmers’ microgrants and promote local businesses, increase transparency and accessibility by transitioning Council meetings online, and more. …

Mahalo for the Votes

Wednesday, August 24th, 2022

Mahalo nui, Molokai! I am honored to have been chosen by our voters as the Democratic Candidate for House District 13 advancing to the General Election. Please know that each and every one of your votes made a difference. Molokai showed up at the polls, and it showed in the results. The love, support and encouragement I’ve received from our community and communities across our district fuels my determination to solidify this win for our people and ‘aina. I am excited to hit the ground running and look forward to engaging with residents across our district to bring forward place-based, community driven solutions that address our most pressing issues in ways that make sense for us and our way of life. …