“If you asked the members at the primary election, they probably would have supported the current leadership, but through the actions within the last few months, especially as the election neared, this prospect began to quickly fade,” the source said.
In one of the most public incidents, the source said, Baisa took the side of the Mayor when trash wasn’t being picked up on holidays and landfill hours were cut. Many of her members were infuriated by the games played by the administration, especially during an election year after the Council gave them most of what they requested in their budget.
Then came the threat of taking away chairmanships. Multiple sources say that she was infuriated with White who was continually rocking the boat and continually questioning the Mayor through his Budget and Finance Committee. From the Old Wailuku Post Office, Launiupoko land deal, and then the trash situation. Her solution, if she could establish a majority without him, was to strip him of his Budget Committee chairmanship in favor of Arakawa darling, Don Couch.
By all accounts, Baisa was counting on at least one new member to enter the Council, as she only needed one to establish a solid majority. She had Robert Carroll, Don Couch and Michael Victorino on her side, with promised plum committee assignments.
The prospects seem good. Kaala Bueconsejo, Michael Molina and Joseph Pontanilla were all on the ballot. Bueconsejo had strong backing from Super PACS, and both Molina and Pontanilla had high name recognition from serving on the Council for 10 years and strong support from the Mayor.
She publically supported Bueconsejo, sign waving and posed in Facebook pictures with him. She was a bit more discreet supporting Pontanilla and Molina, only appearing at their fundraisers and telling friends to support them.
The problem was that all three were running against incumbents who officially voted for her as Chair. Bueconsejo was running against Elle Cochran, Molina against Mike White, and Pontanilla against Don Guzman.
On election night, any hopes of establishing an easy majority quickly faded with all incumbents on the Council being returned to their seats.
With the elections behind them, a coalition of members met, with varying experiences with the Chair, including Hokama and Cochran who the insider commented was left out of Baisa’s coalition and organizational meetings just two years earlier to discuss what was next.
The final outcome for the Council’s leadership was not surprising at all, taking into account what happened in the election. It is puzzling how Baisa would be surprised and not felt included. All indications show that she knew what was coming.
Politics is a game of a strategy and Baisa is a seasoned veteran. She gambled hugely on what seemed like a safe bet, but lost big. Like the old saying goes, unfortunately, elections have consequences.
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