Maas: KIUC members, board dialogue key

Kaua’i Island Utility Cooperative board of directors candidate Craig Maas says his decision to run in the board election was crystallized about four months ago.

Editor’s note: This is one of a series of stories on the seven candidates for three seats on the Kaua’i Island Utility Cooperative board of directors. Members have been mailed ballots, which include a voter guide. Ballots are due to KIUC headquarters in Kukui Grove Village West by 4 p.m. March 18.

“The decision was made when the KIUC board started to get really criticized, and whether it was right or wrong, there was a real communication breakdown,” Maas said.

Members of the KIUC board and management were the subject of a series of articles in late October last year that ran in The Garden Island, about spending habits.

Board members came under increased scrutiny from members, resulting in a perceived defensive stance by the KIUC board.

Maas feels that, regard-less of whether the criticisms were fair or not, the KIUC board members handled the situation badly.

“I felt that there needed to be an immediate liaison between KIUC and the public,” he said. “If there had been clear communication channels, the fear and blame would go away.”

Maas wants to get involved with the KIUC board to see if he can help open those channels of communication.

“I feel they (KIUC board) are handcuffed through their own policies. I would like the board to have the freedom to be more open,” Maas said. “There should be nothing hidden.”

Maas said he asked board members at a recent meeting why they couldn’t be more open with members. Their response was, under current policy, they have to filter statements through legal counsel for fear of lawsuits, he said.

Maas feels that being more open may alleviate the fear board members face as well.

He also feels the coop board members and leaders are doing an excellent job. “There’s always going to be the push and pull, the give and take,” he said.

One of the hardest challenges KIUC will face in the future, according to Maas, is adopting alternative sources of energy. “India and China are growing at such a rate that oil is going to go to $70 a barrel before it goes to $50,” Maas said.

With all of the island’s energy produced by burning fossil fuels, the increased-costs are going to require alternative-energy sources. “We are in an economy that is based on profit and loss,” Maas said.

The tenets of profit and loss are going to call for exploring wind power, hydro-power and photovoltaic technology.

“You have to do all the studies to see what you are going to harm, and if the harm is worth the resource, you go for it,” he said. “We need to make the right decisions, and we need to consume less.”

Maas is a resident of Kilauea, and is married to real estate broker Lisa Maas. The two have no children.

Maas is semi-retired, he says, sitting on the board for Circles of Light, a nonprofit organization that acts as advocates for children.

He also runs his own business, Maas Financial. “I keep one of my rentals under that (business), and I counsel people, mostly friends and relatives for free, about loans, banking etc.,” he said.

Maas, who will be 59 on March 14, was a mortgage banker for a dozen years when he lived in California’s Bay Area.

“When you are the head of a brokerage company you have to look at every contract to make sure there are loans available to back it up. You have to analyze every contract. I must have handled 5,000 buy-and-sell contracts, and gotten mortgages for those,” Maas said.

He sold homes as well.

The move to Kaua’i occurred more than 10 years ago, and began with a business offering adventure golf tours. “That business failed because it was ahead of its time,” Maas said.

He dabbled in the real-estate market, and settled into a pattern of semi-retirement. Maas Financial was launched not long after.

Today, he feels he possesses the credentials and time to be a director at KIUC.

“I have the time, and I am willing to give the time,” he said at a recent candidates’ forum where he appeared with five of his fellow running mates.

There are seven candidates running for three open seats on the nine-person KIUC board. Ballots for the election are due by March 18, and should have been received in the mail at members’ homes by now.

Maas graduated from Pepperdine University in California with a bachelor’s degree in 1971.

He says being his own boss for 26 years has taught him ethics, because “you have to make the right decisions to survive as your own boss.”

He feels he has the technical financial skills to be an effective director, and the necessary life experience, both personal and professional, to carry out the duties of a director.

“After the forum the other night, Lisa asked me, ‘How do you feel, Craig?'” Maas said. “I told her maybe I could have said things a little better, but if my karma is good, hopefully we’ll take it to the next step (and win one of the seats).”

Maas says he wants to repay some of the great appreciation Kaua’i has given him.

“I just want to give back some of the beautiful love and stability Kaua’i gave back to my life,” he said the day before a flight to Katmandu, Nepal, for a three-week, educational vacation.

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