Kauai mayor Baptiste dies

Mayor Brian Baptiste
Mayor Brian Baptiste

By Diane Ako - bio | email and Paul Drewes - bio | email

LIHUE, KAUAI (KHNL) - Sad and shocking news out of the Garden Isle. Mayor Brian Baptiste has died. He was recovering from heart surgery at home on Kauai, when he passed away Sunday evening.

The Mayor had quadruple bypass surgery at Queens Medical Center on Oahu on June 13, and was released from the hospital on June 20. He flew back to Kauai on June 21, and died Sunday evening June 22. Mayor Baptiste is survived by wife Annette and four children.

Mayor Baptiste was in his second term, winning reelection in 2006. Even though the news of his death is still setting in, those worked with the Mayor said his legacy will live on.

State Rep. Jimmy Tokioka (D- Lihue, Koloa) said, "He got people to volunteer with many projects. The Ho'olokahi Project is something this island will always be indebted to him and his family for. His vision for volunteerism and getting people to respond to the call can never be replaced." Former county councilman Tokioka worked with the Mayor for six years and is a close friend of the family.

Kauai County Councilman Ron Kouchi was also a good friend of Baptiste. "He was well known as a person who attended everything that happened on the county of Kauai. There will be a big hole in the bleachers and community events where he was regularly seen," said Kouchi.

State Sen. Gary Hooser reflected, ""He's a good man, with genuine concern for the good of the community. He wore his heart on his sleeve. He was passionate, hard working and truly committed to the people of Kauai. He will be sorely missed."

Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann issued this statement: "I was stunned to learn this evening of the death of Kauai Mayor Bryan Baptiste. During the past three years, I had the opportunity to collaborate with him through our work on the Hawaii Council of Mayors and enjoyed our partnership immensely. His solid grasp of the issues facing the County of Kauai, ability to craft workable solutions, and willingness to partner with his fellow mayors made him a very effective leader. With his help, this unusual and unique partnership was able to accomplish much on behalf of all the people of our counties.

I thought he was 'Mayor Aloha,' in that he exuded a unique local style of leadership. Bryan was quick to smile, put people at ease, and said just enough to get his point across, yet make people feel comfortable with a decision-making process. I'll miss him very much, as I know the people of Kauai will. We've lost an outstanding public servant.

Kauai has lost a great leader, and I have lost a dear friend and colleague. Gail and I send our heartfelt sympathy to the Baptiste ohana."