Baptiste vows he won’t be a lame duck

Mayor Bryan Baptiste has challenged government and residents to dispense with rhetoric on ways to improve Kaua‘i and move forward together with concrete plans.

Baptiste hopes to add more police beats, improve public access to government services through www.kauai.gov and create partnerships to carry out goals, he said during an inauguration ceremony at the Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall Friday.

Baptiste, elected to a second and final four-year term by two votes in the September primary election, said his administration will focus on fundamentals.

“We have repaired our neighborhood centers, replaced tools and heavy equipment, resurfaced more roads than ever before, worked on sewers and septic systems,” he said. “None too glamorous but all so necessary.”

Baptiste said the county should now be focused on improving systems for maintaining public roads and buildings and establishing programs or systems to promote efficiency.

In addition, the county should “right-size the workforce to get the job done,” he said.

Baptiste will encourage increasing the number of islandwide police beats from 10 to 12. Doing so is a must because “We are stretched too thin and must expand to fill our needs,” he said.

The mayor said he looks forward to the opening of a fire station in Kealia.

Accreditation or re-accreditation of the county’s fire department will also be a goal, Baptiste said.

“More bill payment and permitting opportunities will be on line (www. kauai.gov), and our Internet newsletter will become a reality,” he said.

“Our Ka Leo O Kaua‘i program will continue solving problems and building communities,” Baptiste said.

During the next four years, Baptiste predicted there will be more affordable housing.

“Affordable housing is on the horizon,” he said. “Units for rent and purchase are being built as we speak, and more are on the way.”

“Lets assure our children that if they want to live here, they will be able to live here,” he said.

Cross agency and community partnerships must be formed and nurtured, Baptiste said.

“It has brought us success in the war on drugs, in our battle against homelessness,” he said. Highway improvements in Wailua funded by Gov. Linda Lingle and the Legislature will begin to ease the crunch on that part of the island in 2007, Baptiste said.

To reach goals, stakeholders should put aside their differences and reach out collectively to find solutions, he said.

“We must continue to care for one another as strong communities,” he said. “It is truly about living aloha.”

Commitment by all is what is needed to make Kaua‘i a better place, he said.

“Lets discuss, let’s debate, but most importantly, let’s decide,” he said.

Baptiste said his administration will be at the forefront of solving problems. “We will not duck issues,” he said “We will push the envelope.”

One of the bigger island issues is solid waste management, a subject avoided by Baptiste during his remarks. Newly appointed Kaua‘i County Council chair Kaipo Asing said the council will work toward updating the county solid-waste plan.

Also sworn into office were county clerk Peter Nakamura, deputy county clerk Ernest Pasion, Eddie Sarita, the manager of the convention hall, Beth Tokioka, who heads the county Office of Economic Development, deputy finance director Belma Baris, county engineer Donald Fujimoto, fire chief Robert Westerman, administrative assistant Gary Heu and Bernard Carvalho, who heads the county Office of Community Assistance.

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