Voting district proposal dies again

LIHUE — Separate proposals on whether to divide Kauai County Council seats into individual voting districts and stagger terms lengths have died — again — but the matters will be revisited in May.

Both issues could face voters for the fourth time in 2018.

The county’s Charter Review Commission last week considered two proposals that would have changed the makeup and protocol of the council election process — to no avail.

“We just couldn’t get a consensus,” commission chairman Allan Parachini said Friday.

Currently, all seven members of the Kauai County Council run at-large, meaning they do not represent a specific district. The elected officials also each serve two-year terms.

The districting proposal would have created districts represented by a designated official. Whether or not voters could vote only for candidates in their respective districts or countywide is an issue of contention. Parachnini said commission members continue to discuss that issue.

The Charter Review Commission conducted Monkey Survey polls earlier this year to determine numerous options for districting. These could have included as few as two districts represented by specific elected officials with the remaining council members running at-large. Another scenario would have created up to five specific-represented districts and two at-large positions. In theory, Parachini, this would provide better electorate representation.

The staggered term proposal would have extended term lengths from the current two years to four years. During the first election under this proposal, however, voters would only select from three candidates to run for two-year terms while the other candidates were “on hold” waiting to run for four-year terms.

Parachini said the concern about staggering terms focused on whether voters would feel disenfranchised by only being able to vote for half the council during the next election.

Former Charter Review Commission member Jan Ten Bruggencate said options regarding staggering terms and districting should remain open.

“This is not an issue that is going to go away,” he said. “Right now, we have to deal with what we have.”

Most important to the commission, Parachini said, was to convey to voters that they had a say in whether council members ran by district or represented the entire county.

The decision will be made next month when the commission makeup changes.

“When we have two members, we will be able to revisit this issue and move forward,” Parachini said.

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