HONOLULU (KHON2) — Too soon for tourism was the message during a rally at the State Capitol on Tuesday, Oct. 3.
Dozens showed up to deliver a petition to Gov. Josh Green to delay the reopening of West Maui.
West Maui County councilmember Tamara Paltin said Oct. 8 is much too soon to bring tourism back to her area.
“Majority of the people, if they want to go back to work, it’s because they have that fear and uncertainty about moving forward,” Paltin said. “If there was financial relief, they could be out serving their own community instead of serving tourists.”
Over 14,000 signed the petition to delay the Oct. 8 reopening date, almost 5,000 of those were signatures from Maui residents.
Lahaina Strong community organizer Paele Kiakona brought the box right to Gov. Green’s door.
“We are here to accept him into our community so he can see firsthand how it is,” Kiakona said. “This is how many people don’t feel comfortable and don’t support this.”
Gov. Green did not come out to speak — his Constituent Services director took the box of petitions.
“He is actually not here today, he’s offsite working, but I will make sure that it’s delivered to him today,” Bonnelley Pa’uulu said.
Even some Oahu residents did not like the optics of a no-show governor.
“It happened to them,” Cory Asuncion said. “We from Oahu, but we feel them. I feel them. Where is the governor? He should be out here hugging everybody!”
Folks in attendance shared a united message — they know that decisions about tourism to West Maui need to be made, they just want to be a part of that decision-making process.
“It’s just baffling to me,” Kiakona said. “We didn’t even get a chance to speak for ourselves, you know, the decisions that were, are being made for this October eighth reopening will ultimately affect us. So, shouldn’t we be consulted with?”
“If this date follows through — with the plans for the powers that be including Governor Josh Green — for October eighth, it only proves to us that they are not willing to take initiative to make a change,” said Lahaina resident Zane Kekoa Schweitzer.
“All the people are really asking for is that back-and-forth dialogue in a public, open setting. I don’t think that’s too much to ask,” Paltin said.
KHON2 reached out to Gov. Green’s office for a statement, his press secretary sent a link.
The Office of the Governor said that Gov. Green was not in the office on Tuesday because his calendar is scheduled weeks in advance and then clarified later that he was not in the office at the time that the petition was delivered.