LIHUE — When Kauai voters head to the polls in November, they’ll be deciding on a charter amendment that could end term limits for members of the County Council.
In March, the council opted to give voters the opportunity to decide on term limits in a 5-2 vote. Councilmembers JoAnn Yukimura and Mason Chock voted against the resolution that was introduced in January by Council Vice Chair Ross Kagawa.
This isn’t the first time the question has been on the ballot. In the 2006 election, voters voted overwhelmingly, 13,266 to 6,139, to establish term limits.
The question that appears on the ballot: “Shall the term limit for councilmembers be removed?”
Kauai voters weighed in on the topic with The Garden Island.
November’s election will be 18-year-old Cheyenne St. John’s first election. She’s excited to be voting.
St. John said she didn’t know the question will be on the ballot, but will be voting to keep term limits in the charter.
“It has to be a chance for others to have their chance to see if they can do better and to keep people from staying their whole life and giving everyone else a chance to have their spot,” she said.
If there’s a term limit for the U.S. president, the top level of government in the nation, then councilmembers should also have term limits, she pointed out.
The council “is like the top of government for Kauai, so it gives a chance for the younger generations to have their say,” St. John said.
As a female millennial, St. John said it’s important to be involved in government because it ensures the choices government leaders make end up with a positive impact on not only her life, but also the lives of her peers.
Lihue resident Jocelyn Slade, who plans to vote in November, also wasn’t aware the issue was to be decided. She suggested it might work to abolish term limits on councilmembers in some cases.
“I think they should, I don’t know, just depending,” she said. “Obviously if they’re doing a good job they shouldn’t, but I mean it all depends really.”
On the other hand, term limits do allow people to get a fair share in the office, she said.
Deanna Tully, who lives in the Wailua Homesteads, believes in term limits for councilmembers.
“It keeps people honest and keeping on the straight and narrow path, and it gives voice more to the people as well if there’s more influence on who remains or takes over in office,” Tully said.
Tully, who will be voting in favor of term limits, likes the idea that the question is on the ballot.
“I think it should be up to the people, whether or not term limits are part of the system or not,” she said.
Lihue resident Marceah Samuel said she’ll most likely be voting in favor of term limits.
“I think sometimes you get stuck in what you’re asking for and it might not be something you’ve gone out to ask the public what the needs are, because things change in Kauai,” she said.
If the mayor has term limits, so should councilmembers, Samuel said.
“This is an island and people get stuck in certain things,” she said.
Kauai resident Justice Allah El said he doesn’t believe in voting because the system is corrupt, but he does believe councilmembers should have term limits.
“I think everybody should have term limits. People get old and sometimes they get locked into certain ways of thinking. It’s just a way of changing the people and getting it going. It’s only fair,” he said.
Ryan Silva of Lihue said he believes that if U.S. presidents have term limits, so should Kauai’s councilmembers.
The idea that the question about ending term limits is on the ballot makes him question the whole system, he said.
“I don’t see why they would want to put an end to that in the first place,” he said.
Bethany Freudenthal can be reached at 652-7891 or bfreudenthal@thegarden island.com.