County boards and commissions seek members

HILO — The county is looking for more than a few good men and women.

A number of boards and commissions, made up of private citizens, have had trouble getting quorum at meetings. Some have difficulty even getting enough members to make a quorum. Of the 38 boards and commissions listed on the county’s website, seven are listed as inactive.

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“We’re slowly filling all of them,” Rose Bautista, an executive assistant to Mayor Harry Kim, said Tuesday. “They’re the voice of our community. They represent the community, so it’s important to hear their voices. And they advise the mayor on whatever the issue may be. It’s about the community being heard and participating in county government.”

Bautista said three of those groups should be activated soon.

“We’ve got enough members for a quorum on the Veterans Advisory Committee. We’re also looking to activate the Arborist (Advisory) Committee and the Fire Board of Appeals,” Bautista said.

The last meeting held by the veterans panel was on Oct. 17, 2013, according to the county website. The county dropped the number of committee members from 16 to 12 in an effort to revive the moribund body, whose purpose is “to advise the county on matters pertaining to the operation, maintenance and management of veterans’ cemeteries and other related veterans’ issues.”

Seven members, all military veterans, as required, have been approved by the county council: Michael Doolittle, Minoru Hanato, Isaac Nahakuelua, George Sheridan, Antonio Gaspar, Emile Wery and Dale Wilson.

Three mayoral appointees to the committee, all women, are awaiting council approval: Deb Lewis, a retired Army colonel; Marcia Jean Brinkley, a nurse who served at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Nursing during the Vietnam War; and Carolle Brulee-Wilson, a Navy veteran.

Other boards and commissions seeking immediate applications include: Environmental Management Commission, which is seeking applicants from Council Districts 2, 3, 7 and 8; Game Management Advisory Commission, Districts 1, 2, 6, 9; Transportation Commission, Districts 6, 7, 8, 9; and Banyan Drive Redevelopment Agency, which has a single vacancy that can be filled by someone from any council district.

The county also wants to fill nine vacancies on the Cost of Government Commission, representing each of the nine council districts. Members serve consecutive 11-month terms.

“We need a whole new slate every time a new administration comes on,” Bautista said.

In addition, there’s a single vacancy on the Liquor Commission, and members are being sought for the Community Action Development Plan in the Puna, North Kohala and Ka‘u districts.

Members of most boards and commissions, after approval, serve five-year terms.

Board and commission members are unpaid volunteers, but travel expenses to and from meetings are reimbursed. Applicants must be U.S. citizens, Hawaii state residents and may not hold any other public office.

“There are a lot of qualified people,” Bautista said. “Many times I go out into the community and let them know that the boards exist. Many of them don’t even realize we have those boards and commissions, but some, when they hear about it, apply.”

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Application forms are available online at www.hawaiicounty.gov/office-of-the-mayor. For more information, contact Bautista at 961-8211 or rose.bautista@hawaiicounty.gov.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.