Man with a Plan

A Hart in the race for mayor.

Mayoral Candidate Chris Hart is known as the “Man with a Plan” – a nickname justified by his extensive resume that includes serving under the Maui County Planning Department for two decades. Last week, Hart was on the Friendly Isle for a few days, and stopped by the Dispatch office to talk story about his campaign.

It’s Hart’s first time entering the political arena as a contender for the Maui County mayor’s seat, but says his business and land planning experience set him apart from the rest.

“As a land planner, I have the ability and knowledge to set the course for the future,” he said.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture from Syracuse University in New York, Hart joined the Army and was stationed in Hawaii in 1967. During his stay, Hart visited Maui and never left. Over the course of his 40-year residency, Hart assumed the roles of Maui County’s Deputy Planning Director from 1980-85, and then as Planning Director from 1986-91.

Since then, Hart has founded his own landscape and planning firm, Chris Hart & Partners, Inc., served as a board member for numerous nonprofits, and now has his eye set on serving the community as a political leader.

“Maui County is at a critical turning point,” Hart said. “We need a plan that directs and preserves the integrity of the communities here.”

As Mayor, Hart said he would initiate a plan that would revitalize the economy, adopt renewable energy practices, preserve historical and cultural resources, maintain infrastructure, and promote beautification of the land.

“It’s important to maintain the character of the towns as country towns,” Hart explained. “It is the identity of Maui County.”

Hart says this is especially true for Molokai, and preservation of its culture and history is high on his list. Hart’s other priorities for the Friendly Isle are to revive the pre-existing visitor facilities to help create jobs – he believes Molokai Ranch should be put in the hands of local ownership or a state entity to uphold accountability. And he would like to see Kaluakoi fully restored, including the hotel and golf course.

He also plans to further develop agricultural practices to provide food security and support renewable energy initiatives to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.