Baptiste likes doing, not talking

LIHU’E – Bryan J. Baptiste doesn’t say much during most council meetings. He

sits at one end of the table and only interjects his point of view when he

feels it’s absolutely necessary.

But the people of Kaua`i must feel

comfortable with his low-key style, because Baptiste has been among the top

three votegetters in both his previous runs for council (1996 and

`98).

He’ll start his third term next January if he advances past the

primary election this month and finishes in the top seven again in November’s

general election.

“I’m not a big talker,” he said. “I believe in doing

things. I always ask everybody with all their good ideas to come to the table.

Don’t come with complaints and gripes. You need to have a solution attached. I

ask people to come up with positive solutions.”

And yet it’s a talking

project Baptiste is proudest of since he’s been on council. He introduced

“visioning” meetings, wherein the council and other government leaders got

together outside of the council meeting room and tried to talk out their

differences and then share their dreams.

“Some people don’t like that. They

like to see angry debate because it seems to verify that checks and balances

are working. They (critics) may be thinking we’re too amiable. But argument

stops action. It does no good to do personal attacks. It’s (visioning) a new

way of doing things, and I’m proud of that,” Baptiste said.

He said he

stays in government because of the young people on the island.

“The only

reason I do what I do is the children. This is a wonderful place, but all that

could change,” he said. “The only (incoming) people who can afford to live here

have found wealth somewhere else. I’m not saying our kids have to stay here,

but they should have that option.

“We have to diversify our economy to

allow our children to live here, working one job, to raise their family and

have good quality of life.”

To that end, Baptiste said he supports creating

jobs in the medical field and in technical industries.

“Otherwise, we are

pricing kids out of the market. It’s a Catch 22 situation. It is a tightrope.We

have a service-oriented economy and we also need to diversify,” he said.

“I

grew up here. My roots are longer than most on the island. My roots can be

traced way back,” Baptiste said. “I love the island as it is, but the world has

shrunk, the world is faster. The slow pace and the environment need to be kept.

Maybe niche marketing, tweak the tourism a little bit toward health tourism so

that dollars are paying for jobs in a higher category.”

Baptiste, 45 next

month, and his wife Annette live in Wailua. They four children.

Baptiste

became well-known on Kaua`i while working for the Ho`olokahi community

organization.

Staff writer Dennis Wilken can be reached at 245-3681

(ext. 252) and dwilken@pulitzer.net

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