Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023 |
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County Council Vice Chair Ross Kagawa
LIHUE — A resolution that would end term limits for County Council members could be on the ballot in August.
The amendment was proposed Wednesday by Councilmember Ross Kagawa.
Kagawa said he penned the amendment because on Kauai, it’s difficult to get voted onto the council, to get re-elected and to find enough residents who are willing to battle it out at the polls.
When he ran for his first term, Kagawa said there were only nine candidates for seven seats.
“That’s really sad,” he said, “when you consider there are 70,000 people who live on Kauai.”
The reason many residents might not run for office, he said, is because they may see the two-year limit as not worth it.
As it stands, councilmembers are limited to four two-year terms.
The proposal was deferred Wednesday to the March 14 meeting. Moving forward, the bill will go through a public hearing process, then to committee and then back to the council before it could be placed on the ballot.
“You’re learning about your job as you’re doing your job, and a year and a half later, you’re looking at possibly losing your job again,” Kagawa said.
He said it took him about that amount of time, two years, to learn his job as a councilmember well.
Many residents on Kauai, he said, might not consider being on the council a desirable position. For instance, councilmembers receive hate mail on a daily basis, he said.
“When you have numerous issues to vote on, you can’t please everyone,” Kagawa said.
Ending term limits, he said, might make it more attractive.
During a public comment session on the matter Wednesday, Kauai resident Ken Taylor said he was opposed to putting the issue back on the ballot because the whole point of having term limits is to open seats up for new people with new ideas.
“They may be smarter and better for the community than you are,” Taylor said. “The county can do without you. They did without you before you were on the
The issue of term limits comes up every now and then, said Councilmember Derek Kawakami.
“I think there’s some confusion about what the actual issue is,” he said.
Kawakami pointed out that councilmembers won’t be deciding their own term limits. The proposal is simply to decide whether the issue should be on the next ballot.
“Let the people decide,” Kawakami said. “That’s what a democracy is.”
Kauai resident Felicia Cowden, who ran for County Council in 2014, said she had a proposal before the Charter Review Commission to change the terms of councilmembers altogether.
“My proposal was for four council positions to be four-year terms and three council positions would be two-year terms, like they are now,” Cowden said.
The four-year terms, she said, would be full-time, so councilmembers would be able to more closely direct their attention to the needs of the county.
The terms would be staggered, Cowden said, in order to prevent a super majority. The value in the proposal is that there would never be a completely new council; there would always be two members from the previous council remaining, she said.
As far as term limits being added to the ballot, Cowden said she feels good about it.
At the end of the current term, Council Chair Mel Rapozo and Councilmember JoAnn Yukimura will have served four consecutive two-year terms and will be termed out per the county charter.
A public hearing on the matter will be held Feb. 21 at 1:30 p.m. in council chambers at the Historic County Council Building. From there, it will go to full council at the March 14 meeting.
Kagawa said he’s not certain if he’ll run for another term, but he’s keeping the possibility open.
“If I can get the support of my family, we will see,” he said.
Term limits are good. Keeps corruption down to a minimum. Politics shouldn’t be a career
Put a end to vehicle safety inspections on ballot vote on something people care about
I agree with Felicia’s four term and two term proposal. Add that to the ballot. Also I think Joann and Mel have had their chance and it is time to go.
How do you spell status quo? First off it’s moot how many people ran against Kagawa 8 years ago because last time we had an election there were plenty of new candidates- a total of 14 I think. Plenty. It IS rather disturbing how accurate the saying is “don’t run unless your name ends in a vowel” but allowing these same guys to stay in place for years and decades will not make Kauai better. It’s almost like they’re saying “look it’s taken me years to line up all the corrupt connections, bribes, nepotism etc – don’t make me throw it all away so soon. Look the incumbents have a huge advantage and generally get re elected; no need to give them *more* power to make bad decisions.
I agree with the “end council” part of your idea. That would give you more time to pay back all us Hawai’ian Citizens for the pillaging, war crimes and fraud you have committed against the true and honest HAWAI’IAN KINGDOM.
It is not surprising that it would take you two years to “learn the job”, Mr.Kagawa. Mr. Taylor had it right, and good on him for saying so. The same education curve cannot be said for most others who would be elected to public office.
I think Ms. Cowden has it about right, as long as there is a total amount of years, say 8, any councilmember can serve until they must take a break of at least two years.
No do NOT end term limits. Entrenched members of congress are a big reason we have a dysfunctional elective branch of the federal government.
Great, now the good old boys club wants lifetime memberships.
The standard argument against Term Limits is always that it doesn’t allow politicians to stay in office long enough to get experienced, (learn the ropes). The problem is, that it encourages politicians to look for ways to stay in office longer and potentially make a career of office. The problem is we need citizens in office that are in touch with their neighbors and concerned with during public service, not concerned about keeping their jobs. It’s when we get career politicians that we end up with the polarized dysfunctional system that we have today. Not saying that this is Mr. Kagawa, just saying that term limits is part of the solution and doing away with them would be a step backward. As it stands now, if a councilperson does a reasonable job they will probably be reelected and then serve the maximum 4 terms which would be eight years.
Term Limits are a sure way of draining the Good Old Boy Network!
Complacency is not good for Kauai! Or in any Government!
Mel and Joanne are monarchy. Too long already. 1989? For Mel Rapozo. 1978? For Joanne Yukimura.
Bill Kaipo Asing, 1978. Deceased.
Mr. Kagawa was paid over 100k plus what ever benefits for two years of job training and now he thinks he’s a professional council member. Yes Mr. Kagawa you better check with the family and friends because the “popularity contest” is the only way you will be able to continue serving. You lost my vote when you shared your prejudice comments to KITV tv news station regarding home stays and vacation rentals on the island. By the way this isn’t hate mail it’s plain and simply a little reality for ya.
Give me a break. Kagawa is a poster boy FOR term limits.
This guy is basically saying he wasted two years of our time “learning the job”.
Here’s an idea Ross, maybe you should not have run for council member until you had some idea what the job entailed.
Apparently Kagawa does not think he can handle a real job, and wants to milk the County for life…
Could you imagine if the rest of us said that it took 2 YEARS to learn our jobs? We would be fired!!! Term limits are exactly for people like this!
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