As a member of the 2011 Maui County Charter Commission, I have been waiting for over 8 years for the opportunity to vote on creating the position of a hired, professional County Managing Director.
You see, the Maui County Charter is our local constitution, so you can imagine that amending the charter is not an easy process, nor should it be.
Back in 2011, we had the opportunity to discuss changing how we managed our local government’s administration, but ultimately the question was deferred for another day. The County formed a special committee in 2015 that concluded that the County Managing Director model was the best way to make Maui County government more efficient.
The County Council had opportunities in both 2016 and 2018 to take the proposal seriously and place the question on the ballot for Maui County citizens to decide. But, despite months of hearings and public testimony, the recommendation to hire a professional County Manager never made it to the polls, until now!
At this point, you are probably wondering, what is a “hired professional County Managing Director?”
The position of Managing Director, as it exists currently, is a political appointment by the Mayor. A professional County Managing Director would instead be hired through a recruitment-and-selection process involving the Mayor, Council Chairperson, and citizen group. This vetted professional would in turn hire and manage a team of experienced and highly qualified department directors to take responsibility for day-to-day county operations, carrying out the Mayor’s vision for the county, but not tied to mayoral politics and political cycles.
One disadvantage to the current model is that many important positions in our county are tied to political relationships and election cycles. It is estimated that the equivalent of a year’s salary is wasted in the turnover between (mayoral) administrations.
Our current charter was adopted over 50 years ago and some say doesn’t need to be altered. Today Maui County employs over 2,600 people with a budget of over $800 million. I believe we need a management framework to match the work to be done, particularly in these complex and rapidly changing times.
Please join me and vote YES! for this Charter change.
Image Credit: Ohana for Professional Management