Tavares vows to put services at forefront
The Maui mayor-elect targets water, trash and aiding education
WAILUKU » Maui County Mayor-elect Charmaine Tavares said she will not be resting on her laurels -- not after seeing two first-term mayors turned away by voters in the last eight years.
"I can't sit around. We've got to hit the ground running," Tavares said.
Maui County voters rejected first-term mayors James "Kimo" Apana in 2002 and Alan Arakawa on Tuesday.
Tavares, 63, who has served five terms as a councilwoman, said she knows the electorate will not wait two mayoral terms for an incumbent to demonstrate results.
Tavares said her initial focus will be on providing county services and making sure that work performed by the county gets done.
"They want results that are positive for the community," Tavares said. "They want water that's delivered, that's safe. They want their trash picked up, and why not?"
The mayor-elect said she will look at ways to help improve the quality of life for county taxpayers, including education.
"Education is a state function, but that doesn't mean the county should ignore it," she said.
Tavares said the county has been subsidizing the school bus system and also the high school program called Environmental and Spatial Technology, which coordinates math and science with everyday experiences such as surveying areas using GPS and designing items.
She said based on positive results at schools on Maui, she supports expanding the Environmental and Spatial Technology
program to intermediate schools.
Tavares indicated her administration plans to continue support for the nursing and dental hygiene programs at Maui Community College.
Tavares said while she ran as a Republican in her early years on the Council, she is now an independent.
She said Democratic U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye's endorsement of her candidacy helped her.
Tavares said Inouye was "trail-blazing" by looking at issues and not political partisanship.
She said her administration will be reaching across party lines.
Arakawa, 55, said the voters now are different from 10 years ago, and he believes his defeat is partially linked to a trend toward a "very impatient" electorate.
"Over time, I think you're going to see more and more of it," he said.
He said an increase in people who are accustomed to obtaining results at their fingertips is developing a generation that wants "instant gratification."
Arakawa said his administration had developed more than a hundred programs, but "the public isn't paying attention to what gets done."
He said another major trend is the low turnout of voters.
Voter turnout in Maui County was 48.3 percent on Tuesday, compared with 52.6 percent in the general election in 2002 and 65 percent in 1998.
"You have fewer and fewer people making decisions for everybody," he said.