Mayor-Elect Bryan Baptiste yesterday named Gary Heu his administrative assistant, immediately creating a vacancy on the Kaua’i Planning Commission.
Heu, currently Kaua’i manager for Verizon, is also vice chair and the labor representative on the Planning Commission. His term would have expired at the end of this year.
He will officially assume his new post when the Baptiste administration is sworn in at noon Monday, Dec. 2.
While Baptiste said he has been accepting resums for certain positions, he recruited Heu for the number-two slot in county government. Heu is Baptiste’s first announced cabinet appointment.
Before being formally sworn in, though, Heu will chair a five-person committee formed by Baptiste to screen resums and recommend to the new Mayor the top three candidates for several other appointed positions in Baptiste’s administration, Baptiste said.
Baptiste would not reveal the names of the other four selection committee members, to relieve them of undue stress and pressure, he said.
The administrative assistant is acting mayor in the mayor’s absence, and according to the Kauai County Charter must possess the same qualifications as the mayor: Be at least 30 years of age, a U.S. citizen, county resident and registered voter for at least three years.
It was not immediately known yesterday whether or not Mayor Maryanne Kusaka would move to appoint a replacement for Heu on the Planning Commission before her term ends on Monday, Dec. 2.
If she doesn’t, the task would fall to Baptiste, and could represent his first appointment to the myriad of volunteer boards and commissions.
Wallace G. Rezentes, Sr., Kusaka’s administrative assistant, said he looks forward to handing his chores over to Heu, and said just as Kusaka plans to work closely with Baptiste, Rezentes will work closely with Heu, to ensure a smooth administrative transition.
“Gary’s strengths complement mine, so together we will create a balanced team,” Baptiste said. “He’s also not part of the political system, so he will help us make real change for our county.
“The main thing is that we can share the same heart as we carry out our jobs,” said Baptiste.
“It’s very exciting to me that everything we will focus on can have a direct and positive impact on our community,” said Heu. “We have a chance to make a change in county government on day one.
“I want to be part of Bryan’s vision of creating a more user-friendly and customer-service-oriented government. This is a unique opportunity to be involved with a leader who embraces these concepts,” Heu continued.
The first initiative Baptiste and Heu will tackle is empowering county employees to become part of the solution, to be more efficient, specifically with regards to the county budgeting process, Baptiste said.
“On an ongoing basis, my emphasis will be on the community, while Gary’s will be with the county employees,” Baptiste explained.
Heu has been with Verizon for 21 years, and has lived on Kaua’i since 1980. In his current position with Verizon, he supervises 65 employees.
He has held various positions with Verizon, beginning as a warehouse clerk in 1980.
In the community, Heu was a member of the Kaua’i District School Advisory Council, and currently serves on the Kauai Community College Fund Board as well as the Planning Commission.
Originally from Kailua, O’ahu, Heu graduated from Kamehameha Schools and the University of Colorado at Boulder, with bachelor’s degrees in psychology and therapeutic recreation.
He lives in Kilauea with his wife, Lisa, and four children.
Staff Writer Paul C. Curtis can be reached at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org or 245-3681 (ext. 224).