WAILUKU – Maui County Mayor-elect Alan Arakawa named six new members to his Cabinet on Monday, including two key people to help him achieve his campaign goals, Danny Agsalog as director of the Department of Finance and Dave Taylor as director of the Department of Water Supply.
With the stumbling economy still heavy on most people’s minds, and job creation and finding more water on the lips of political candidates this election season, Arakawa chose people he was familiar with – and who are educated and experienced – to run the county’s finance and water departments, he said.
Arakawa also picked former longtime and award-winning television and print journalist Rod Antone as the county and mayor’s spokesman, replacing Mahina Martin. In addition, Arakawa chose deputy directors for the water and finance departments as well as for county communications.
Agsalog will regain the position he held from 2003 to 2005. He replaces Finance Director Kalbert Young, who was appointed by Arakawa during his first administration and stayed on through Mayor Charmaine Tavares’ four-year term.
Agsalog also was senior adviser of the City and County of Honolulu’s Emergency Services Department and Department of Community Services. He also is a small-business owner. In addition, Agsalog was the micro-enterprise manager for Maui Economic Opportunity Inc.’s Business Development Corp.
Agsalog has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Hawaii-West Oahu and a master’s degree in business administration from Hawaii Pacific University.
Arakawa appointed Jeremiah Savage, an accredited asset management specialist and regional field training leader with Edward Jones, to serve as deputy director in the Finance Department. Savage has a bachelor’s degree from Pacific Lutheran University and held a leadership position for EEC International Korea.
Arakawa said the two combine to have a broad base of knowledge in small business, local government, investments and asset management.
“We are at a pivotal place in our economy, and it will be vital that we move in the right direction,” Agsalog said. “Mayor-elect Arakawa’s vision and goals for this community make sense to me, and I am committed to apply my professional skills and experience to our community.
“It will also be my honor to work with all of the very skilled and hardworking members of the Department of Finance,” he said. “These are difficult times and will require strong leadership to make tough decisions.”
Taylor is the current county Wastewater Division chief. He would replace Tavares’ appointee, Jeff Eng. But Taylor, who is known for having good relations with the council and community, will have to be confirmed by the Maui County Council first.
The other Cabinet positions that need confirmation are the heads of the departments of Corporation Counsel and Prosecuting Attorney.
Taylor’s job should be high profile or come with the highest expectations from Arakawa, since much of Arakawa’s campaign focused on solving Maui’s water problems. The mayor-elect has said he believes that can be done by acquiring existing surface water sources and private distribution systems.
“Water-related issues are clearly some of the most complex challenges facing our community,” Taylor said in news release issued Monday. “I am humbled that Mayor-elect Arakawa has chosen me to take a leadership role in working with the community and the council to make progress in this critical area.”
Arakawa supervised a county wastewater treatment facility for years before getting in public service. He, and many others this campaign season, accused the Tavares administration of dragging its feet on solving water-access issues, such as never finishing a water distribution plan, or ending the long waiting list for people who own land in Upcountry and need water meters to subdivide properties and build homes.
“I am confident that Dave’s nearly 20 years of experience in all aspects of infrastructure
management, his knowledge of the many aspects and challenges of DWS, engineering background, and
outstanding leadership skills are key factors in DWS’ ability to tackle everything on my long to-do list,” Arakawa said.
Taylor has a Bachelor of Arts and a master’s degree in engineering and related fields.
In his news release, Arakawa said that as Wastewater Division chief, Taylor has extensive experience managing all aspects of Maui County’s wastewater and recycled-water infrastructure. Like his predecessor, Arakawa has said he wants to rid Maui County of coral reef-damaging injection wells.
Under the Tavares administration, Taylor helped advise a community working group, which aimed at phasing out injection wells. Tavares wanted to end the controversial pollution-producing practice in the next decade, but it could cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars to do so completely with all the equipment upgrades, pumps and pipes needed.
To assist Taylor, Arakawa also announced the appointment Monday of Paul Meyer, principal of Meyer Associates LLC and former executive vice president of finance for Maui Land & Pineapple Co., as the the water department’s deputy director.
Meyer has a master’s degree in business administration from the University of California, Berkeley, and experience in management, finance, control and accounting. He’s also supervised “commercial property acquisitions, development and operations, and formulating strategic and tactical plans for a variety of organizations,” said Arakawa.
“I am excited that bright, highly qualified and professional individuals such as Dave and Paul will be part of our team to address the various critical issues involving our islands’ water supply,” said Arakawa.
As for Antone, he’s worked for KHON, KHNL and the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. His experience includes public relations, campaign consulting and marketing on the Mainland.
In addition to dealing with the media, Anton will act as a liaison between the different county departments.
“I am very pleased that someone with Rod’s experience is joining us,” Arakawa said. “His knowledge of the media and communications will help us make the county more accessible for everyone.”
Antone, who also will teach an introduction to news reporting class this fall at UH-Maui College, said he was happy to return to Maui.
“Maui County has a lot of important issues to deal with, and the public deserves to be well-informed every step of the way,” Antone said.
The Maui native’s work history also includes being deputy press secretary for U.S. Congressman Steve Pearce, of New Mexico. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in broadcast news from the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Arakawa also hired Ryan Piros as assistant communications director. Piros is vice president and program director for KPMW 105.5 FM.
Arakawa so far has held true to his pledge to fill as many of the top department positions as possible before the end of this month.
Dozens of noncivil- service jobs are up for grabs. However, current county employees are allowed to reapply for their positions.
Arakawa already has named his former managing director, Keith Regan, to the same post as well as flower farmer Teena Rasmussen as economic development coordinator. MEO Executive Director Sandy Baz has been picked as budget director, and Herman Andaya Jr. as chief of staff.