Video by David Corrigan | Voice of Stephanie Salazar
HAWAII COUNTY: Inter-island politics are playing out in the once per decade redistricting process.
Big Island democrats are up in arms over a recent statewide Reapportionment Commission decision to count military members and their dependants when considering population totals as they redraw the state’s political boundaries.
The decision will likely prevent the Big Island of Hawaii from getting a 4th senate seat.
At a recent Hawaii County Reapportionment Advisory Council meeting held in Waimea, members of the Democratic Party voiced their disapproval of the state commission decision.
In attendance at the meeting: state-wide commissioner Dylan Nonaka, who corrected the record by saying he is not one of 8 Oahu residents on the nine member commission, but a resident of South Kona.
Nonaka explained the reasoning behind the commission’s decision in an interview with Big Island Video News. Facing a room full on perturbed Big Island politicos, Nonaka’s reasoning did not go over so well.
Many of the democrats in attendance argued that is the Hawaii Constitutional Amendment passed in 1992 that says the state commission acted improperly with its decision. That amendment changed the population base to be used for reapportionment from “registered voters” to “permanent residents.”
Senator Malama Solomon, serving the first district of Hawaii Island, said in a recent editorial that “given the population growth over the past decade, if Hawaii Island continues to have only three senators, each senator will represent 60,000 residents, where most other senators in the state will have only about 40,000 residents to represent.”
“How can the 2011 Reapportionment Commission simply ignore the Hawaii State Constitution?” she asked.
Rene Siracusa, the chair of the Hawaii County Redistricting Commission, told Big Island Video News that the local body’s approach to the issue will be to exclude military from their count.
Siracusa, who was appointed to represent the Puna district, says the state made the wrong decision.
Members of the Hawaii County Reapportionment Advisory Council said that counsel is recommending legal action to reverse the decision be postponed, perhaps until the first new district maps are drafted.