Ready or Not … Election Season Is Here Again …

Ready or Not … Election Season Is Here Again …

The 2024 election season is now underway. We are less than five months away from electing our national, state and county leaders. While the presidential contest may garner the most attention during this election cycle, there are important local races having a more direct impact on our residents’ lives. On Maui, for example, County Council members and some members of our State Legislature are on the ballot this year. Your voice and vote are extremely important to elect candidates who truly have our best interest at heart.

Maui has suffered a lot this past year. The wildfires in the West Maui and Upcountry areas devastated many of our ‘ohana, many of whom are still living in hotels. What is even more concerning is a greater number of families are looking for decent and affordable homes where they can live. Many are moving from their island homes to the mainland due to the shortage of housing and lack of options. Not only are the wildfire victims impacted, many of our residents are also being displaced due to high rents most of our working families cannot afford. To top it all, the cost to buy a house today on Maui has now reached a high of $1.3 million, a median price far out of range for our working families.

Your vote counts. Don’t miss the opportunity to choose our leaders who will change our quality of life here on Maui.
Photo: Alfredo G. Evangelista

In the past several elections, affordable housing was the main issue for all the candidates running for public office. Yet, we are still in the same predicament and this pressing problem is unresolved. Many are losing hope and faith with the lack of resolve by our policy makers to finally tackle this issue.

The County is proposing to ban short term vacation rentals (STVRs) that are legally approved and currently used by visitors to the island, to house our residents instead. Regardless where you are on this idea, the issue of converting these STVRs will be bogged down in court for many years. There are also significant challenges to converting these vacation units into long-term rentals for residents—such as, high rents, high Homeowners Association fees (HOAs), making these units unaffordable for working families, not to mention the unintended economic impact that may result with the outlawing of STVRs. This is unlikely to solve our housing crisis, both short-and long-term.

Voting now is a snap with the amount of options we have available to us. You can vote by mail, or opt to turn in your completed ballots at centers like the one shown here at the county building in Wailuku, or go to your assigned polling place and vote in-person.
Photo: Alfredo G. Evanglista

Some residents think such an action may just be “political cover” for not being able to build more affordable homes to provide long awaited relief for Maui’s residents. We need to build more affordable homes, plain and simple, if our policy makers genuinely want to solve this gravely extended housing crisis.

So, when you cast your vote this election cycle, make sure you study the records of all the candidates and incumbents to see if they have been consistent with supporting housing projects for Maui’s hardworking families. Too often, many candidates make promises which are not kept nor delivered. If you have not yet registered to vote, The Fil-Am Voice strongly encourages those who are eligible to vote to register. If you want change to happen, make your vote COUNT!