2019-2020 Council Term Accomplishments
Keani Rawlins-Fernandez has accomplished a tremendous amount of work on behalf of the community since being elected to the Maui County Council in 2018 for the 2019-2020 term.
As the youngest sitting Councilmember, Keani received unanimous support as Council Vice-Chair and as the Economic Development and Budget (“EDB”) Committee Chair and developed great working relationships with her colleagues on the Council, in the Administration, and at the State level that have proven to be beneficial to our county, as she collaborates with them on solution-oriented actions.
The EDB committee chair is charged with the considerable responsibility of guiding the full Council through the annual budget review and approval process, a great privilege to be entrusted with for a first term Councilmember.
Over the last two years, Keani has worked diligently to streamline the council’s budget review process to improve inclusivity, fairness and transparency for the public, as well as increased fiscal consideration of administrative and legislative personnel time, resources and taxpayer dollars.
Keani has championed several legislative proposals for Maui County, and fought hard to prevent others from passing that may be harmful.
Some of the amazing work she has accomplished this term:
- Stood as a consistent advocate for ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi in the council chambers, helping to ensure that the Hawaiian language and culture are accurately represented and normalized within the county’s business.
- Established an Experimental and Demonstration Housing Revolving Fund to support and foster creative housing solutions, and successfully advocated for $1 million to start.
- Secured $500k to create a Molokai Climate Change and Sea-Level Rise Adaptation and Resiliency Master Plan, kicking off consecutive climate change and sea-level rise adaptation and resiliency master planning for the rest of Maui County. This will be the first of its kind in the State.
- Successfully passed legislation phasing out short-term rental (“STR”) permits on Molokai and set a permanent cap of zero STR’s for the island, as the community desired.
- Established a temporary investigative group on tax reform to develop assessment tiering based on real property valuation, which enabled the council to significantly decrease real property taxes for homeowners and businesses.
- Created a brand new budget review process that is inclusive, fair, time efficient and more transparent for the public.
- Launched and successfully conducted the first ever entirely virtual budget session which ensured community engagement and legislative transparency throughout the review process, and led to Maui County trailblazing as the first in the State to allow in-person testimony while sunshine law was suspended. The pilot proved a success and the entire council and all committees are using the model to complete legislative responsibilities during the pandemic, simultaneously saving taxpayer dollars.
- Authored and passed legislation to form the new Commission on Healing Solutions for Homelessness, the first of its kind in the State of Hawaii, which takes a holistic approach to seeking solutions for homelessness, healing communities by maximizing engagement and acknowledging poverty is a symptom of larger social and economic issues.
- Stood as a committed advocate for pay equity in both the public and private sector.
- Has been a staunch advocate for victims rights, introducing multiple county Resolutions to bring awareness of the need for stricter laws and advocacy to support victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
- Vehemently opposed continued litigation in the Lahaina injection well lawsuit, speaking against the pollution of our ocean waters and costly legal battles.
- Introduced and passed the Feminist Economic Recovery Bill; securing Maui County as the first county in the United States and worldwide to adopt legislation that demands fair and equal economic opportunities for women, the LGBTQ community and all persons of color -and urging the Mayor to support a feminist economic recovery plan that allows for an equitable future for Maui County residents.
- Innovatively supported our local farmers by successfully funding $2.5 million in micro-grants to assist small local farmers during this time of extreme need.
- Stood as an amplified voice and a vocal advocate on the committee and council floor in support of the Charter amendment to create a Maui County Department of Agriculture, which would boost local food security and help diversify our local economy.
- Secured $100,000 in fiscal year 2021 for Molokai’s pilot smokeless incinerator project; the first of its kind on Molokai to assist in efforts towards a clean, viable and environmentally beneficial opportunity for handling and disposing of solid waste.
- Proved her dedication and commitment to pesticide-free weed management within Maui County by securing funding to purchase two weed steam machines for the Department of Public Works on Molokai and Maui.
- Worked diligently to try and save taxpayers $80 million dollars for the vastly unsupported and overpriced Wailuku Civic Complex.
- Passed a Resolution to begin a fiscal and performance audit of the Maui Redevelopment Agency.
- Drafted and passed the Mālama Maui County Pledge, to educate visitors as respectful guests to the islands.
- Her Molokai community advocacy work resulted in the first free COVID-19 community testing for Molokai in April 2020, in which over 400 residents were tested in a single day.
- Helped lead the charge against destructive military activity in Maui County and opposed the proposed naval training in the waters of Maui, Molokai and Lanai.
- Opposed the proposed detonation of World War II-era bombs at Molokini.
- Worked diligently to ensure county departmental directors were approved based on skills, experience, expertise and ability to adequately serve our community.
- Introduced and passed a proposed Charter amendment to resolve legal disputes and conflicting interpretations between the County’s Administrative and Legislative Branches through the judiciary branch.
- Introduced and passed a proposed Charter amendment to allow each Council member to nominate one Charter Commission member each and to appoint 9 members total, and the Mayor to appoint 2 members of the 11- member Charter Commission which meets every ten years to study and propose amendments to the Maui County Charter.
- Advocated for safe and affordable housing, and is fully committed to ensuring ethical practices and accountability by developers and county leadership, ensuring projects are attainably priced and is working proactively to eliminate exploitation of the affordable housing fast track process.
- Has shown courageous leadership against the exploitation of significant Hawaiian cultural and ancestral lands including the proposed TMT project atop Mauna o Wakea.
- Remains an active policy maker helping to preserve open spaces, natural and cultural resources within Maui County through innovative grant processes such as the purchase of Mokae in Hana.
- Secured twenty five thousand to design and install Moku signage on Molokai in the FY 2020 budget.
- Championed the effort to reinstate County funding of internships through the University of Hawaii, to create more college to county career pathways.
- Has shown her commitment to transparency and community engagement in local politics by hosting monthly town hall meetings for Molokai residents; in person and online to ensure maximum community outreach and public participation.
- Thoroughly vets every Boards and Commissions nominee to help ensure the best community service to the County.
- Successfully worked with the Molokai Community to collaborate plans for the relocation of the Puko’o Fire Station; hosting community and district meetings to ensure transparency for residents of East Molokai. She continued efforts include the completion of an Environmental Impact Study which would ensure a full cultural and archaeological assessment, as well as determine the best, most cost effective and community beneficial location, while simultaneously securing the permanency of the only emergency service responders located on rural East Molokai, responsible for all residents within an approximate 27 mile radius.
- Empowered her community’s voice through action by establishing (5) community action groups to address key areas of concern on Molokai:
- Climate Change and Sea level rise: Held the first Climate Change and Sea Level rise summit on Molokai, Oct. 5, 2019;
- Solid Waste: Helped facilitate county partnership with Okinawan-based company to secure a smokeless incinerator pilot project for Molokai for 2020;
- Cultural Resources: Successfully contributed to County of Maui’s Cultural Resource Plan update in 2019;
- Water: Initiated work continuing for the Molokai Water Working Group to ensure accurate data and beneficial planning as it pertains to Molokai’ water resource management;
- Molokai Community Plan: Organized community - upheld the integrity of the Molokai Community plan by: 1) Advocating for its inclusion into all government planning processes and permitting policies 2) Encouraging the accomplishment of action items 3) Managing the plan as a living document in order to make recommendations for amendments and changes in preparation for the next community plan update and to best benefit Molokai
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