* EDITOR'S NOTE - This is the second in a series of stories covering contested legislative and County Council seats and County Charter and state constitutional amendments leading up to the Nov. 6 general election.
Three-time Maui County Council Upcountry residency seat incumbent Gladys Baisa said voters should easily be able to differentiate her from her general election opponent: She's the one with the diverse list of accomplishments.
Baisa, 72, of Pukalani also is the former longtime head of Maui Economic Opportunity Inc.
She faces off Nov. 6 against Richard Pohle. Pohle, 73, is a retired doctoral physicist, Kula protea farmer and founder of the Upcountry Meter List Association.
"Yes, I'm basically a one-issue candidate, but I'm running because I have to. After following this for years and not seeing anything get accomplished, I was angry enough to pull my papers," said Pohle, who has a lot without a meter.
Baisa is waiting for a meter, too, she said, but is more interested in concluding the matter for the entire community.
Maui County Council
(Upcountry residency seat)
Gladys Coelho Baisa
Born: Aug. 13, 1940; Paia
Occupation: Maui County Council member
Elected offices held: Upcountry County Council member since 2007
Education: Maui High School, 1958; St. Francis Hospital School of Nursing, licensed practical nurse, 1961; Maui Technical School accounting certificate, 1967; numerous management, financial, workshops and other courses, 1969 to present
Community involvement: Past Rotary International Assistant District Governor; past Maui United Way Board of Directors Allocation Committee; past Hawaii State Commission on Persons with Disabilities chairwoman; past Maui Advisory Board for HEI; present J. Walter Cameron Center Board of Directors Personnel Committee chairwoman
Family: Married, three children
Born: Sept. 15, 1939; Providence, R.I.
Occupation: Retired scientist
Education: Bachelor of science, Brown University, 1961; doctorate in physics, University of Maryland, 1969
Community involvement: American Cancer Society, Road to Recovery driver
Family: Married, four children, eight grandchildren
Baisa pointed first to shepherding amicable conclusions to the yearslong controversies over bed-and-breakfast permitting and Maui's master planning process. She'll also seek the open County Council chair position.
"Getting the gargantuan General Plan done for me has been an incredible experience," said Baisa, the committee chairwoman. "Every day, I had to learn about all aspects of the community - from water to parks to developments to housing to historic districts - I had to learn a little bit about everything.
"It has prepared me for the next leadership role."
Pohle called Baisa a "career politician."
She said she is an open, tough-but-fair public servant.
"I know it's probably not the best way to put this, but my mother used to say, 'It's better to stick with the devil you know than the devil you don't,' " she said. "Really, though, people know me. You can look at my record. I'm not embarrassed about anything. And for me this isn't some 9-to-5 job, it's more of a mission."
And what about her opponent?
"Water meters, water meters, water meters," Baisa said. " 'Where's my water meter?' "
Pohle did repeatedly circle back to the issue, saying Baisa and other politicians only give "lip service" to it. They've been more worried about upsetting Upcountry anti-development interests, he said.
Baisa said she's always been actively searching for a solution - and believes that Mayor Alan Arakawa and Department of Water Supply Director Dave Taylor now have one.
The meter list has more than 1,000 applicants, most of whom want to build homes on empty lots. Last month, Arakawa's administration announced a plan to evaporate the water list within three years using 3.5 million gallons a day of surface water, among other measures.
Pohle said it doesn't go far enough. He wants to buy the Piiholo South Well, "a gusher" that can produce 1.7 mgd.
"The meter list is a fraud based on a lie," Pohle said. "My son told me that came off as too negative, my new slogan is: 'Freedom, free enterprise and the American way.' I might wear a cape."
It's a countywide race, and Pohle is "basically a Republican," so he added reducing regulations. This includes throwing his support behind the large-scale mall project in Kihei and opposing the idea of creating an environmental court.
Baisa has expressed support for a dedicated court to find tailored solutions to the county's myriad environmental debates.
Pohle said it's just another way to get in the way of development.
Baisa will next help find a solution for the county's unfunded retiree liability.
"We just can't keep ignoring this," she said.
* Chris Hamilton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.