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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, August 24, 2001

Proposed Waialua-Kaua'i district draws fire

By Kevin Dayton
Advertiser Capitol Bureau

A handful of Waialua area residents raised objections last night to a plan to create a House district that would combine Mokule'ia and Schofield Barracks on O'ahu with North Kaua'i.

Residents worried that the interests of O'ahu residents in the Mokule'ia area would be drowned out because they would be vastly outnumbered by voters on Kaua'i and in the Schofield and Wheeler areas.

 •  More information is available at the Reapportionment Commission's web site, www.hawaiiredistricting.org
Critics also pointed out that the proposed boundaries would plunk Waialua Intermediate and High School in the proposed canoe district, but would place almost all of the families who send students to that school in a neighboring district that includes the North Shore.

Waialua residents wondered if the representative who is elected in the canoe district will pay proper attention to the Waialua school when the parents of the students at the school would live outside the canoe district and would be unable to vote for that representative.

"You would completely disenfranchise the only high school in our area from our representative," said Kathleen Pahinui, who is chairwoman of the North Shore Neighborhood Waialua Board. "The representative would almost surely be from Kaua'i. That person doesn't know diddly about who we are and what we do."

Reapportionment Commission staff said the commission will study the issue and consider adjusting the district boundaries slightly to include Waialua High School in the North Shore district. That change would not make any dramatic change in the populations of either of the proposed new districts.

The state Reapportionment Commission is responsible for equalizing the population in the 51 House districts so that each has about 22,833 residents, and the 25 Senate districts so that each has about 46,579 residents.

The commission can create districts with slightly more or slightly less people, but the difference between the largest House districts and the smallest cannot be greater than 2,283 people, or 10 percent of the target. The difference between the largest Senate district and the smallest cannot be greater than 4,657 residents.

So-called "canoe" districts are created when the population of an island can't be divided within those parameters, forcing the commission to include residents from another island in the district to meet the population target.

The proposed Mokule'ia-North Kaua'i canoe district would have 22,621 people, with about 12,900 from Kaua'i. Of the 9,700 O'ahu residents who would be included in the district, only about 600 live in the Mokule'ia area. The rest live in the Schofield and Wheeler areas, including thousands of dependents of active military personnel.

"It makes a big difference because the communities are so far apart and so different," said Aloha Coleman, principal of Waialua Intermediate and High School.

With its concentration of active duty military personnel and military dependents, some Republicans believe the canoe district may tip in their favor and elect a Republican representative in 2002.

The Reapportionment Commission has also proposed three other canoe districts, including a Senate canoe district that would combine Waimanalo and parts of Kailua in Windward O'ahu with Hanalei and north Kaua'i.

The commission has also proposed House and Senate canoe districts that would combine East Maui neighborhoods with the Big Island Puna subdivisions of Hawaiian Paradise Park, Hawaiian Beaches and Hawaiian Shores.

The commission gave preliminary approval to the maps earlier this month, and is planning hearings around the state in September to gather public comment on the proposed boundaries.

Reach Kevin Dayton at 525-8070 or kdayton@honoluluadvertiser.com