- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 1, 2016

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii (AP) - A councilwoman on the Big Island is seeking to increase the number of years that council members can serve from eight to 12 years before having to sit out at least one term.

Kohala Councilwoman Margaret Wille’s proposal would allow council members to serve three consecutive four-year stints. Council members are currently restricted to four two-year terms. The eight-year limit was approved by voters in 1996, West Hawaii Today reports (https://bit.ly/1QoXriB).

The County Council is set to review the proposal Tuesday. If the bill is approved, the proposal would go on the ballot for voters to decide in the Nov. 8 general election.

The council considered an amendment in 2005 that would have allowed members to serve six consecutive two-year terms. The proposal was sponsored by Hilo Councilman Aaron Chung, who returned to the council in 2014 after sitting out eight years.

“That one died unceremoniously,” Chung said. “I introduced it late in my last term . It wouldn’t have benefited me.



Councils across Hawaii have different term limits for their members. On Kauai, councilors are limited to four consecutive two-year terms as they are in Hawaii County. Honolulu council members can serve two consecutive four-year terms, and Maui council members are allowed to hold their positions for five consecutive two-year terms.

Chung and Wille say longer terms would give council members the time to focus on more complex issues.

But Hilo Councilman Dennis “Fresh” Onishi plans to vote against the bill. He said he doesn’t agree with other concerns from council members that a two-year term requires them to focus more on campaigning than on their council duties.

“I believe that eight years is sufficient,” Onishi said. “That way council members in each district will be willing to work hard in their district. . You don’t have to worry about campaigning so much because you’re always out in the community.”

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Information from: West Hawaii Today, https://www.westhawaiitoday.com

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