Editor’s note: For Hawaii’s Nov. 6 General Election, Civil Beat asked candidates to answer some questions about where they stand on various issues and what their priorities will be if elected.

The following came from Shane Sinenci, a candidate for Maui County Council (East Maui). The other candidate is Claire Kamalu Carroll.

Go to Civil Beat’s Elections Guide for general information, and check out other candidates on the General Election Ballot.

Candidate for Maui County Council (East Maui)

Shane Sinenci
Party Nonpartisan
Age 51
Occupation Special education teacher
Residence Hana


Community organizations/prior offices held

Hana Community Association chair; ‘Aha Moku Councils Hana representative; Hana School Leadership and Safety committees; Hana Advisory Board to the Planning Commission.

1. Are changes needed in how the County Council is run, and if so what are they?

As a rural resident of East Maui, I find the district voting process very cumbersome for small community candidates like myself. For example, all nine districts in Maui County votes for my seat including Molokai and Lanai islands; which means campaigning in all nine districts to solicit votes. This is a disadvantage for grass-roots candidates like myself because the majority of voters in Central Maui will ultimately determine the outcome of my race, despite not living in my district. Special interest groups and lobbyists can easily sway a county vote in their favor if they decide to fund a specific campaign. For example, in 2016 I ran a campaign against the incumbent and won my district by 73 percent, but still lost the overall race due to the eight other district voters.

2. The Legislature has authorized Maui County to implement a 0.5 percent GET surcharge. Should the county do it, and if so, what should the additional revenue be spent on?

I believe Maui County should implement the 0.5 percent GET surcharge to fund infrastructure projects, including highways and public utilities upgrades. In the last three years, an increase of 48,000 new residents and 70,000 visitors have contributed to traffic congestion and general wear and tear. For example, the Paia Bypass plans are not what community residents agreed upon. Instead, the DOT’s response is that there is not enough funding to satisfy the most logical choice. It has been the state’s approach to build “band-aid” projects, without properly addressing community needs, and the result has been mistakes that people have to live with for the coming years.

3. There is a desire to grow the economy through new development yet also a need to protect our limited environmental resources. How would you balance these competing interests?

Maui County needs affordable housing more than they need high-end commercial and luxury homes. Already, one in every three homes on Maui is a vacation rental; leaving no inventory for residential housing. The result was been an exodus of young families seeking affordable options elsewhere and rampant homelessness. Maui County is quickly becoming a home for the rich only and not for the common folks. We need to start building for real people, and not for people with multiple homes.

4. What would you do, if anything, to strengthen police accountability?

I support body cameras and vehicle cameras to increase police accountability.

5. What specific steps would you take to strengthen Hawaii’s lax lobbying, ethics and financial disclosure laws?

(No comment. I need more research to respond.)

6. Would you support eliminating Hawaii’s high fees for access to public records when the request is in the public interest?

If information was acquired using public funding, then I believe the public should have access to it.

7. Voters complain their elected officials don’t listen to them. What would you do to improve communication?

I would hold quarterly meetings and town halls in my district, to garner input from the community.

8. What more should Maui County be doing to prepare for the effects of climate change, including sea level rise and threats to the reefs?

I think Maui County needs to revisit its building codes and regulations to address the effects of climate change, sea level rise and surface runoffs.

9. What do you see as the most pressing issue facing your district? What will you do about it?

In East Maui, we have public facilities that are 50 years old and older. With the influx of visitors, we are not able to accommodate the additional numbers, let alone our own residents. We desperately need to upgrade and modernize our facilities to meet the demands of the 21st century. Public safety is imperative and without proper safety measures and emergency systems in place, we cannot ensure public well-being for all.