LIHUE — For decades, and without fail, one of the island’s most prominent government watchdogs, Glenn Mickens, showed up at County Council meetings on Wednesdays.
He always donned a blue UCLA jacket and came prepared — more than ready to offer his testimony on issues. In fact, Mickens was so dedicated that the only times he ducked out early was to watch what he deemed to be an important baseball game or to take his daily four-mile walk.
Councilmembers and friends offered their condolences and shared fond reflections of the late Mickens with his wife, Ruth Mickens, at the start of Wednesday’s council meeting.
“He always kept the County Council on their toes,” said Councilmember Felicia Cowden.
You always knew where Mickens stood, said Council Chair Arryl Kaneshiro. When Mickens was in agreement, he’d have a classic smirk on his face. And when he disagreed, he’d disapprovingly shake his head.
But even though he had his opinions, Mickens always interacted respectfully, Kaneshiro said.
“He will be sorely missed,” he said.
Mickens died at the age of 88 in July. Prior to moving to Kauai three decades ago, Mickens had a 15-year career playing professional baseball. At the age of 22, he started pitching for the Brooklyn Dodgers and even befriended Jackie Robinson during his stint in the big leagues.
He retired from his assistant coach position at UCLA (thus, the jacket) in 1989. Mickens subsequently moved to Kauai, a place that he and his wife fell in love with in the 1970s, where he immediately became a community advocate.
Councilmember Luke Evslin said that while he was in high school, he remembers watching Mickens at council meetings on television. The first time he got to meet Mickens — who was, of course, wearing his signature jacket — Evslin was star struck.
“He was always there and always paying attention,” Evslin said.
Among the issues that Mickens was passionate about was what he called the misapplication of asphalt on Kauai roads. After more than two decades of consistently sharing his manao, roads are now paved differently, said Lonnie Sykos, friend and fellow government watchdog.
“He kept me on my toes, and I took a lot of what he said to heart,” said Lyle Tabata, deputy county engineer, who presented a proclamation from the mayor in honor of Mickens.
Two things Mickens, who was also a regular letter to the editor contributor, was also adamant about, but never got to see come to fruition, were building more roads to alleviate traffic woes, insisting that people would never give up their vehicles, and allowing keiki from other bloodlines to be accepted into AJA (Americans of Japanese Ancestry) Baseball.
“He was a passionate firecracker,” said Councilmember Mason Chock.
Ruth Mickens said, “He would never give up.”
Coco Zickos, county reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or firstname.lastname@example.org.