What Hawaiʻi County voters need to know about three proposed Charter amendments?

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The first Hawaiʻi County Charter became effective on Jan. 2, 1969, serving as the “constitution” of the government on the Big Island.

There is a mandatory charter review every 10 years. And during other years, amendment proposals can be brought before the electorate by the County Council.

For the 2022 General Election, there are three proposed amendments to the Hawaiʻi County Charter on the ballot. The passage of an amendment requires a majority of voters to vote yes.

Proposal No. 1: Membership for the Board of Ethics

Shall the Hawai‘i County Charter be amended to increase the membership of the Board
of Ethics from five members to seven members?


The proposed amendment was introduced by Councilmember Susan L.K. Lee Loy in May. The Board of Ethics had requested an increase in numbers in order to ensure a quorum for meetings, which had become a problem during the COVID-19 pandemic, and help with its workload.

Councilmember Lee Loy also said that the Hawai’i County’s Board of Ethics had the fewest members in the state; and increasing the number would bring the board in line with Maui, O’ahu and Kaua’i.

The fiscal impact, according to the County, is minimal. Mileage and meals are the primary expense on this board, so costs could increase by approximately $650 per year based on the average cost for the prior five years.

Proposal No 2: Expanding the Duties of the County Auditor

Shall the Hawai‘i County Charter be amended to expand the duties of the Office of the
County Auditor to include investigating allegations of fraud, waste or abuse within the
operations of the County of Hawai‘i?


Proposal No. 2 was introduced by Councilmember Ashley Lehualani Kierkiewicz, who represents District 4 in East Hawaiʻi.

At the beginning of 2022, the County created a pilot whistleblower program that enabled county employees to anonymously report abuse, fraud or issues to a hotline. But under the current charter, when the tips came in, the auditorʻs “hands were tied” to do anything, according to Kierkiewicz.

She said she was made aware by the County Auditor of situations “where the Charter actually restricts the office from investigating those inquiries.”

This amendment would allow the county auditor to do those investigations, and upon completion of an investigation, to provide findings and recommendations to the appropriate county official or officials.

The fiscal impact, according to the County, is “none expected.” It says the county auditor currently has a budget to carry out audits. It said there could be additional costs depending on the outcome of the investigations performed, but the amount cannot be estimated at this time.


Proposal No. 3: Establishing a Youth Commission

Shall the Hawai‘i County Charter be amended to establish a Youth Commission, which
would consist of at least nine but no more than 15 members between the ages of 14 and
24-years old, whose duties would include advising the Mayor, County Council, and
official agencies of the County on legislative and budgetary matters, assess existing
programs and advance new programs that support youth development, and encourage and
coordinate youth participation in County initiatives and other forms of civic engagement?

Councilmember Kierkiewicz also introduced Proposal No. 3. It was modeled after a similar commission created in the city and county of Honolulu two years ago and other similar commissions around the country.

Councilmember Kierkiewicz said she looked back on her own experiences as a youth, which included being part of the Youth Builders program and interning for former Big Island Mayor Harry Kim and at the department of environmental management.

“I just appreciated the opportunities to just get to know how government works, make an impact and here I am, on the Council,” she said in May when advocating for the Youth Commission at a Council committee meeting.

The purpose of the proposed Youth Commission is to provide an opportunity for young people to provide their perspective to the county government.

“Every decision we make on the Council impacts our youth,” Kierkiewicz said in an email Tuesday. “This gives them a seat at the table and venue to exercise their voice.”

The fiscal impact, according to the County, would be minimal. The County said that based on the average costs per member of its other boards and commissions, the estimated cost would be about $5,000 per year.

Click here for the full language of the proposed 2022 General Election Charter Amendments.

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