When the Molokai Planning Commission meets for the first time in February, new member Sherry Tancayo will be seated in the place formerly occupied by Don Williams.
The Maui County Council Policy Committee voted Jan. 4 to recommend Tancayo, a 22-year resident of Molokai, to the spot vacated by Williams. The full council is expected to confirm this nomination within the week.
A self-proclaimed “rodeo mom” of two who volunteers with Molokai 4H and other local organizations, Tancayo decided it was time to step up. “Instead of just sitting and bitching, I wanted to do something about it.”
While working with Na Pu’u Wai’s Sexual Abuse Prevention Task Force, Tancayo noticed many Molokai High School youth remain in a “limbo state” without clear goals or motivation.
The answer? “We need different types of jobs that blend into our island,” she said. “The Planning Commission can be involved (in attracting new jobs) without wrecking the overall mana of our island.”
Tancayo is “absolutely against large cruise ships,” but does support American Safari Cruises in its efforts to bring the Safari Explorer with its 36 visitors to Molokai. “We need this shot in the arm, desperately.”
Although pro-business, Tancayo emphasized that she opposes the Big Wind proposal to bring an industrial wind farm to Molokai’s West End.
She does, however, support local renewable energy projects such as solar farms. “If we can put up windmills on our own then Oahu can buy the electricity from us; we need to make it a community project.” Tancayo emphasizes the need to create jobs for locals, not off-islanders, like those who would construct and maintain the large-scale wind project proposed by Pattern Energy.
“The unemployment rate leads to alcohol and drug abuse and violence,” she said. New business would ease these problems while also keeping Molokai families from splitting up when one spouse takes an off-island job, she said.
One simple way to create jobs, says Tancayo, is to ease the Maui County restrictions on bed and breakfast operations. She believes the Transient Vacation Rental rules for Maui County are too restrictive and don’t necessarily apply to Molokai.
The bulk of the work for the Molokai Planning Commission is to consider permits and exemptions for land use and construction on Special Management Area land. For the most part, Tancayo thinks SMA rules “work OK,” but need to be “personalized for Molokai.”
Before coming to Molokai in 1988, Tancayo worked for the California Highway Patrol. She then worked for three years on airport security at Molokai Airport before becoming a full-time mom.
Tancayo will only be in office until March of 2013 before she needs to reapply for the appointed position.
Admittedly not a person who attends a lot of MoPC meetings, Tancayo said she “wants to go in and see how things are going … we need to listen to people.”
In the past, the MoPC — the only Maui County political representation that actually meets on Molokai — has had a problem in meeting quorum. At least five of the nine members must be present for the twice-a-month meetings to take place. In December, the MoPC was forced to cancel a meeting for lack of quorum. It was Williams’ failure to attend meetings that led to his recent resignation from the MoPC.
“Attendance is a key factor,” said Tancayo. “You have to be involved and take it seriously,” she said about the regular meetings and public forums.