The Question: “How do we get our Council to do this?”

The forward-thinking and bold work of the Maui Council I wrote about previously clearly struck a chord.

If you missed it read: “Policy and Politics – Learning From Maui County”

The question: “How do we get our Council to do this?”

The answer: Stop rewarding bad behavior. Stop reelecting councilmembers who do not put the community and environment first, and/or who talk-the-talk but do nothing except hold space. Instead identify candidates who share common values, actively help to get them elected, and then stick with them as they do their job.

It’s clear a majority of Maui’s councilmembers’ are solid in their values – community-based aloha ʻāina values. They are smart, hard-working, and not afraid to challenge big money and the corporate establishment.

They’re also able to work together toward common goals, setting aside ego and political grandstanding, and they don’t let the perfect get in the way of the good.

Most council/legislative bodies are governed by the law of inertia – a body at rest will remain at rest unless pushed, pulled, cajoled, or coerced into motion. Many newly elected policy-makers come into the system raring to go and itching to make change happen. They soon run into the realities of inertia and discover that many of their colleagues prefer to simply balance the budget, bring home some bacon for their district, and avoid controversy and conflict.

The easiest path of action by a councilmember/legislator is often to do nothing. They must talk about doing something, and they must move the pieces around on the board so it appears they are doing something, but doing nothing is the safest and most common path taken.

To be clear, a single individual on any council can make a difference, but to do what the Maui Council is doing and in fact to move any new policy of substance forward requires a majority willing to break the inertia and move in a new direction, taking some risks.

And that’s what they have on Maui – a Council majority of 5 willing to consistently vote for positive change. This is why Maui has the most progressive property tax structure, the most aggressive affordable housing policy, the strongest support for local agriculture, and a moratorium on new hotel and vacation rental development – to name just a few examples.

Majority rules. We learned this on the playground in elementary school.

When you have a majority of members who share common values, who trust each other, and who aren’t in constant fear of losing their next election – the results can move mountains.

Critically important also is the fact that the community backs them up. The community on Maui shows up to testify, and they show up to help their candidates campaign and win.

It’s like that positive feedback loop you’ve heard me mention before. The Councilmember does good things, and the people recognize and mahalo that achievement, and they show up to help and support keeping them in office as well. It’s a nice positive feedback loop to be caught in – both sides feel the love and both sides are motivated to keep doing more.

My ask today is for only one thing:
Please check out the Pono Hawaiʻi Initiative statewide list of endorsed council candidates, and state legislative candidates. Help them!

The general election will conclude on November 8th. Ballots will be mailed to homes across Hawaiʻi on or about October 20th. There’s not a lot of time.

Please help if you can.

Gary Hooser

About garyhooser

This blog represents my thoughts as an individual person and does not represent the official position of any organization I may be affiliated with. I presently serve as volunteer President of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (H.A.P.A.) I am the former Vice-Chair of the Democratic Party of Hawaii. In another past life, I was an elected member of the Kauai County Council, a Hawaii State Senator, and Majority Leader, and the Director of Environmental Quality Control for the State of Hawaii - in an even earlier incarnation I was an entrepreneur and small business owner. Yes, I am one of the luckiest guys on the planet. Please visit my website AND sign up for my newsletter (unlike any email newsletter you have ever gotten, of that I am sure) - “Come to the edge.” “We can’t. We’re afraid.” “Come to the edge.” “We can’t. We will fall!” “Come to the edge.” And they came. And he pushed them. And they flew. - Christopher Logue (b.1926)
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