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Baisa Chosen as New Maui County Council Leader

“I have long been interested in quality management… I am always interested in how can we do this better.”

November 29, 2012
Tom Blackburn-Rodriguez - Senior Contributing Writer ( , The Maui Weekly

Management by objective, strategic planning followed by evaluations at the end of the year on council performance?

According to Maui County Council Chair-elect Gladys C. Baisa, all of these tools and more are being planned, as the former executive director of Maui Economic Opportunity (MEO) and four-time electoral winner becomes the new leader of the Maui County Council.

She will take office on Jan. 2, 2013, and continue to the end of 2014.

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Maui County Councilmember Gladys C. Baisa’s residency area is Pukalani, Kula and ‘Ulupalakua. As chair of the Maui County Council, she will assume even greater countywide responsibilities.

Interviewed in her office shortly after her unanimous selection by her fellow council members, Baisa talked about why she has sought a larger role in the leadership of the council and her thoughts about running for mayor.

When asked about the possibility of a run for mayor, Baisa clearly voiced her response.

"Let me put that rumor to bed right now," she said. "I have been telling people for the past four years, and I will say it emphatically one more time. I am not interested in ever running for or being the mayor of Maui County. I am very interested in doing my work here on the council and I am going to do that to the best of my ability."

She went on to say, "There are others who have their eyes on the 9th floor. I do not I am closing that door with a loud bang."

"I would like a shot a managing the council," Baisa said. "I come with a big background in management. I am used to managing a very large staff, a large executive staff, and organizing and directing, and I have long been interested in quality management I am always interested in how can we do this better."

Commenting on her life after the council, Baisa said, "I think that once I have completed my 10 years of council service, if I am fortunate enough to be able to do that, it will be time for me to take on a new role in life--and that is being retired!"

Baisa calls her rise to the chair of the council "amazing."

"In the Maui I grew up in the 1940s, this was not even on the radar screen," she said. "A plantation girl like myself, whose dad was just a plantation worker--my grandparents were plantation workers--wouldn't even dream of being where I am today. I wish that my parents were alive today so that they could see this. They would just totally be amazed."

Asked what her goals are as council chair, Baisa responded cautiously. "I've got a very long list," she said. "But I have learned that it is not wise to have too long a list. It's best to focus on a couple of things. Change does not come easy. You have to do it carefully you have to prepare people for it and get them excited about how things can be."

Baisa sees her first job as "melding the team." She wants to make sure all nine of the council members are working together. That they will have identified goals and objectives for the term, and will be working together and communicating with each other cooperatively to get them done.

"I will be working very close with my fellow members," she said, "and talking with them to help them identify what it is they want to do, how are we going to get it done, what our time table is, and spending time with them to say, 'Hey, how's it going and is there anyway we can help you?' But we are going to monitor progress very carefully."

Baisa is committed to working closely with the administration of Mayor Alan Arakawa.

"It is my intent to set some time with the mayor on a regular basis--at least weekly --and that we can set aside some dedicated time to talk and share about how can we work together to get things done and do things better, and if there are any concerns how we can address them," she said.

Another commitment Baisa mentioned was the possibility of an extension in the due date of the Maui Island General Plan.

"There will not be a requirement for another extension if I can do anything to get it done," Baisa said.

Currently, plans call for a public hearing on the plan that that has been accepted by the full County Council, and following that hearing, there will be a first reading at council on Friday, Dec. 7, and a second and final reading on Friday, Dec. 21.

Baisa also is working on suggestions to create a greater flow of council information to the public about its meetings, committee hearings and agenda items, well before they occur. She noted that the administration has a process for distributing information to the public, and said she will discuss having a public information individual for the council. If people know earlier, they may not be surprised and have more opportunity for comment about council actions.

Baisa has a full plate that includes potential reforms in the budget review process and reviewing the implementation of several charter amendments. Baisa was particularly grateful that Councilmember Mike White, with his business experience, was chairing the Budget Committee, and that he would be able to call on the experience and the fiscal conservatism of his committee vice-chair, G. Riki Hokama.

Baisa often speaks about her mother and the sayings she passed on to her. I asked her what she thought her late mother might say if she were able to give any advice to her now.

"There are a number of them," she said, "and I have been thinking about it as I was elected to chair the council. One of the things she was very careful to admonish us about was, 'Remember, the higher you go, the harder the fall.'"

"So she would say, be very, very careful how you conduct yourself," Baisa said. "Watch that little piece of meat in your mouth so it doesn't get you into trouble--referring to my tongue."

Baisa may be reached at or (808) 270-7939.



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