Maui Mayor-elect Richard Bissen this week announced three more appointments to his Cabinet, including naming his chief of staff.

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In a news release, Bissen’s transition team said that Leo Caires, a longtime community and business leader, will serve as the mayor’s chief of staff. In that role, Caires will be tasked with overseeing the mayor’s executive staff and other divisions within his purview.

Bissen also appointed Mahina Martin, who has led government and community affairs for Hawaiian Electric, as the county’s next chief of communications and public affairs.

The mayor-elect also tapped Gerry Dameron, a nonprofit executive, to serve as the chief innovation officer, a role aimed at moving the county forward with promoting sustainability, affordable housing, job creation, improved infrastructure and environmental protection.

Politician wearing aloha shirt in headshot
Richard Bissen, a former judge, announced his campaign for Maui mayor in January with a platform centered on housing, jobs and the environment. 

According to the release, Caires earned a master’s degree in business administration from Chadron State College and a doctorate in education, leadership and innovation from St. Thomas University, where he focused his dissertation on the financial literacy of Native Hawaiians. He’s a business owner and commercial finance officer who’s served on community and government boards.

Meanwhile, Martin has more than 3 decades of experience working in public affairs. Besides overseeing government and community affairs for Hawaiian Electric, she also served as the communications director for the Tavares administration and is a former Department of Hawaiian Home Lands commissioner, according to the news release.

Dameron has 25 years of experience working in organizational leadership and technological innovation, the release says. For the last 11 years, he’s served as the executive director of Go Green Culture Foundation, a nonprofit. In his new role, he’ll focus on bringing together county departments to “utilize proven leading-edge technologies, dynamic systems and best practices,” according to the release.

The mayor-elect is expected to make more hiring announcements in the weeks to come. The three most recent appointments aren’t subject to council approval.

Civil Beat’s coverage of Maui County is supported in part by grants from the Nuestro Futuro Foundation and the Fred Baldwin Memorial Foundation.

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