Term lengths are a hot topic in Hawaiian politics

HONOLULU (KHON2) — How to reduce corruption? That’s the question many lawmakers are asking in the wake of waves of scandals at the city and state level.

A possible solution? Set a limit on how long individuals can serve.

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Senators and representatives of the Hawaii State Capitol have no term limits. Wednesday the states Commission for Improving Standards of Conduct talked about how stopping terms after 10 or 12 years could impact how our state is governed.

“I think I’ve finally come to the position where I think term limits would mess up the process a bit,” said CICA member Barbara Marumoto.

The idea is to bring new blood into our political landscape.

“People in power retain power, and it’s not because – I mean no disrespect to the people in those positions – but it’s not because they’re necessarily the best and the brightest. “said former state senator Gary Hooser. . “You have to be very competent to fill these positions. But it’s because of their longevity, it’s because of that money they have in the bank that no one is going to challenge them.

It’s also moving at the Honolulu City Council, where three resolutions are in the works to move term limits for Council members, the prosecutorand the mayor at eight years in total.

Currently, these positions can serve two consecutive four-year terms, but can then return as a candidate after an absence. The prosecutor was placed under term limits in 2020. Previous prosecutors include Peter Carlisle, who served for 14 years, and recently besieged Keith Kaneshiro for 17 years over two spells.

“While term limits are a good idea in practice, the results have been very problematic,” said John Hart, a communications professor at the University of Hawaii Pacific. “For example, in one-party states with bicameral legislation, like Hawaii, you get a substitution effect. In other words, when someone shows up at one office, they go to another office, so you’re not really getting the revenue you expect.

But Hart said there was still something voters could do about the terms.

“Unfortunately, it turns out they’re not a very good solution to a problem that’s a bit more complicated than we think,” Hart said. “And we already have a solution at the ballot box – voting out people who serve more than one term.”

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The city council resolutions passed their first reading with reservations.

Jessica C. Bell