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Women to form first female majority on Maui council

November 13, 2018

WAILUKU, Hawaii (AP) — Six women are entering Maui’s governing body, forming a female majority on the council for the first time.

Women ran for eight of the nine seats on the Maui County Council this year and took six, The Maui News reported Sunday.

Natalie “Tasha” Kama, Alice Lee, Yuki Lei Sugimura, Kelly King, Tamara Paltin, and Keani Rawlins-Fernandez are set to take charge of the council on Jan. 2.

“It’s historic. We’ve never had this done before,” said Kate Griffiths, chairwoman of the county Committee on the Status of Women.

The council has never had more than four women at any one time. Before the council was created in 1969, the board of supervisors oversaw Maui since 1904.

The first woman to enter the office was Jessie Ross Crowell, who was appointed to the board in 1938 to complete her husband’s term after his death. Caroline K. Rodrigues was the first woman elected, joining the council in 1955.

More women ran in the following decades. Former Maui mayor and Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle got her political start on the council in 1981, and she was joined by Velma McWayne Santos two years later.

Alice Lee is returning to the council after serving alongside Lingle and Santos in 1989. She was selected as the first female council chairperson in 1995.

“I didn’t really think about being the only woman because you have the work in front of you,” Lee said. “Because in reality, the council is one of the few occupations where there’s equality. It’s really up to the female to run. No one is stopping any woman to run for council and once you’re elected, everyone is treated equally. Equal work for equal pay.”

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Information from: The Maui News, http://www.mauinews.com

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