Maui Election

Maui Deputy directors named to Ag, Housing, Transportation, Environmental Management, Public Works and Finance

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(L to R) Kauanoe Batangan, Deputy Director of Department of Transportation; Robert Schmidt, Deputy Director, Department of Environmental Management; Koa Hewahewa, Deputy Director, Department of Agriculture; and Steve Tesoro, Deputy Director of Department of Finance. Not pictured: Saumalu Mataafa and Wendy Taomoto.

Mayor-elect Richard Bissen announced the appointments of the following individuals to deputy director posts:

  • Kauanoe Batangan, Deputy Director of Department of Transportation
  • Koa Hewahewa, Deputy Director, Department of Agriculture
  • Saumalu Mataafa, Deputy Director of Department of Housing & Human Concerns
  • Robert Schmidt, Deputy Director, Department of Environmental Management
  • Wendy Taomoto, Deputy Director of Department of Public Works
  • Steve Tesoro, Deputy Director of Department of Finance

Kauanoe Batangan is the founder and principal consultant of Kuleana Pono Consulting, a public affairs and project management company. He is the founder of the Daniel K. Akaka Congressional Fellowship and has worked at the federal, state, and local levels of government. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Stanford University and advanced degrees from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and the University of Tokyo’s Graduate School of Public Policy.

Koa Hewahewa is the director of forestry operation for Hōkūnui Maui, overseeing the designing, planning, implementation, and management of habitat restoration of a 20-acre Native Hawaiian habitat corridor, and multi-story agroforestry food farm within a 258-acre regenerative farm. He is the former project director for Waihe’e Valley Restoration. In 2019, Hewahewa was awarded the Malama ʻĀina Award presented by the Maui Civic Club. He is completing a bachelor’s degree program in Sustainable Science Management at University of Hawaiʻi Maui.


Saumalu Mataafa has been with the County of Maui for over 5 years with roles in the Office of Council Services, Office of the Mayor, and the Department of Management. He has worked as a research associate and program coordinator at the NASA Ames Research Center as well as specialist and research assistant at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Mataafa received a Bachelor of Science Aeronautics degree and a Master’s in Science Human Factors and Systems degree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He is a 2019 graduate of the Ka Ipu Kukui Fellows leadership program.

Robert Schmidt is currently serving as the deputy director of the County of Maui’s Department of Environmental Management and was previously the department’s operations program superintendent responsible for County landfills and refuse collections. For 34 years he worked with the City of Cashmere in Washington State where he served as the City’s director of operations for seven years, managing a variety of departments and projects.

Wendy Taomoto has been with the County of Maui for over 25 years and is currently an engineering program manager in the Department of Water Supply. Previously she was a civil engineer for 11 years with the department and served for seven years as the County’s Capital Improvement Program Coordinator. She earned a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering from Oregon State University.


Steve Tesoro’s extensive professional career in finance spans three decades with experience in accounting and finance management from the corporate, regional, and business unit level. He has work with startup companies and established public companies with revenues ranging from $15 million to several hundred million. He has held financial control officer positions and was the vice president of finance for Nevadabased Selling Source LLC/Partner Weekly LLC. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in

Accounting from DeVray Institute and a Master of Science in Accounting from University of Nevada Las Vegas.

“Because I firmly believe that it will take the combined experiences, skills, and can do work ethic of teams led by good leaders to make the advances we need to make for our County, together with each department director, we have made a deliberate effort to find those who will rise to the challenge and find ways to not just solve our most pressing issues, but do so with a view of what impact our decisions today will have for our grandchildren a generation later,” said Mayor-elect Bissen. “Each of these deputy directors and the appointments announced earlier will contribute greatly as individuals, and when brought together it is my hope that we will be able to give our citizens what’s deserved: responsible, skilled, and thoughtful leadership.”


James “Kimo” Landgraf’s appointment as Deputy Director to the Department of Water Supply and Josiah Nishita as Deputy Managing Director were previously announced. While appointed department directors require confirmation by the County Council, the appointment of deputy directors do not. 


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