Steven Araujo says a full audit of county government is needed as a first step to bringing openness, transparency and fiscal responsibility.
Araujo, 52, is seeking the newly created County Council District 5, representing Puna.
“Everything will fall into place after that,” he says of the audit.
Araujo said he would take a countywide perspective on issues, paying particular attention to what constituents want in each district.
“That’s the voice of the people,” he said. “I’m just a tool to represent the community and to have the community’s voice heard.”
He said factions can be avoided on the nine-member County Council if council members go back to their oath of office and realize they have sworn or affirmed to uphold the constitutions of both the United States and the state of Hawaii. The public also has a responsibility, he said.
“You swear or affirm to uphold the constitution and you don’t be part of a faction. The Constitution says ‘we the people,’ not ‘me the candidate,’ not ‘me the government,’” he said. “People, in turn, need to hold their elected officials accountable.”
Araujo thinks waste-to-energy technology needs to be studied as a way of addressing the county’s growing trash problem. He said he’s not sold on incineration as the best waste-to-energy technology out there, but he believes whichever technology is settled on, the county should use the resulting energy to power its own operations, thus saving taxpayers money.
“People will always make trash,” he said. “I’m not looking at any particular waste-to-energy. We should review what’s the best technology available and look at how long the technology lasts. Do it the right way and go from there.”
While West Hawaii pays the bulk of the property tax revenues collected on the island, Araujo said he’d have to study the property assessment and property tax system before he could comment on whether the region should receive a proportionate share back.
He favors expanding alternative energy sources on the island, because “we shouldn’t put all our eggs in one basket,” but he’s not convinced the County Council has the right to dictate what sources Hawaii Electric Light Co. uses in its mix.
“I don’t think it would be proper for any government to tell a private business, ‘You have to do this,’” Araujo said. “I think we need to take a look at existing laws on the books. … perhaps statutes could be changed and businesses could be allowed to compete.”
He said he’d need more information on the technical aspects of geothermal before commenting on whether it’s a good energy source.
“We should go with the safest, most efficient energy sources we can,” he said.