One appointed to commission, six to go

LIHUE — Planning for a full-time Charter Review Commission is under way.

“The mayor determines who he feels would best serve on a particular board or commission based on their background, experience and willingness to serve. He submits his nominees to the County Council for their approval,” said Paula Morikami, chief of staff.

There are no specific requirements for commissioners, other than the person must be a Kauai registered voter, she said.

In November, residents voted to make the commission — which is charged with reading Kauai’s charter and proposing changes as it sees fit — a full-fledged commission.

Before, it was scheduled to disband on Dec. 31, 2016, and not reconvene for another 10 years.

Having a permanent Charter Review Commission allows the public a venue to propose changes to the charter and frees up the council to deal with bigger issues. It also allows for more transparency, according to the county.

The Charter Review Commission is made up seven members, and will convene when there at least five appointed, Morikami said.

As of Friday, only one person — Isaac Cockett — has been confirmed as a commissioner, said Mary Daubert, county spokeswoman.

During his March 22 interview, Cockett said he doesn’t have an agenda.

“I really want to just serve the community and be a voice,” he said. “When I think about the Charter Review Commission and how it applies to me personally, I have two young daughters, and I would like to see whatever I could to to make a better future for them.”

Cockett, a 15-year Kauai resident and graduate of Kamehameha Schools, is the general manager of Koloa Landing Resort.

His application was approved on April 12.

Wyatt Angelo and Rose Ramos-Benzel have also been interviewed for seats on the commission.

Angelo, a retired attorney, has some experience with charters in Colorado. He and his wife have lived on Kauai since 2015.

“I definitely think there’s a selling job, especially when you get to the point where you want to propose changes. You have to explain why it’s important,” he said.

On May 17, the council voted not to approve Angelo, saying he was too new to the island to understand the issues.

Ramos-Benzel, director of development for the University of Hawaii Foundation at Kauai Community College, was interviewed by the council that same day.

“I come from a service heart, and I want to continue to be a part of the community,” she said in her interview.

She has lived on Kauai twice, and has run a marketing company here.

Ramos-Benzel said she wasn’t able to get a lot of information about the duties of the Charter Review Commission.

“I know it’s an important position, and to be honest, I’m quite nervous about serving,” she said.

A decision on her appointment has not been made.

Once appointed, two of the seven members will serve a one-year term and two members will serve two terms. Three members will serve a three-year term, Morikami said.

All seven members will be eligible to serve a three-year term after serving their first term. A total of six years is the maximum amount of terms.

“We are planning to stagger the terms of this new commission so that all seven members’ terms do not expire at the same time,” Morikami said.

The county expects the appointment process to take two to three months.


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