Cunningham seeks public takeover of HELCO


On the heels of three unsuccessful gubernatorial bids, Volcano resident Daniel Cunningham is now setting his sights on the Hawaii County mayorship.

Cunningham, 60, is a Florida transplant and former chiropractor who has a unique vision for Hawaii Island that includes parking a decommissioned nuclear-powered submarine in the ocean to create a county-owned utility providing free or low-cost energy. Utilities should not be owned by corporations such as Hawaii Electric Light Co., he said. The government should use eminent domain powers, if necessary, to take over the utilities, he said.

“We need to 86 private power companies and turn them over to the public,” Cunningham said.

Cunningham said the county should be able to get a federal grant for the submarine, which would provide power for 20 years. “Minimally invasive” geothermal energy is also a possibility, he said. Solar power should also be aggressively implemented, he said. If not free, energy should be able to be obtained for 2 cents a kilowatt hour, he said, compared to the 40-plus cents it currently costs on the Big Island.

The county’s ever-mounting garbage problem could also be solved with a little imagination, Cunningham said.

He proposes a massive floating platform in the ocean some 30 stories high that would be used as a recycling center as well as a livestock-raising area that serves as the first step toward space colonization.

“We’d be creating the 21st century City of Refuge,” he said.

The floating city would be governed by women, he said, because “men are so self-destructive.”

Cunningham also would work toward decriminalizing marijuana as a way to save money in law enforcement and prosecutions. He doesn’t advocate using drugs, but he believes the current high-priority enforcement only feeds the military industrial complex. Hemp, he said, could become the basis of a biofuel energy system, further saving residents money in power production.

“We should not spend one cent on cannabis enforcement,” he said.

Cunningham also favors deregulating medicine. As a former chiropractor who lost his license because he was using hypodermic needles in his practice, Cunningham believes the state oversteps its bounds and makes medical care more expensive for everybody. Because many nutritional supplements are delivered by injection, he believes alternative medicine practitioners should be able to use hypodermics. The system of licensing doctors and nurses should be replaced with a system of certificates of competency, he said.

“By deregulating medicine, I think a lot of the costs would go down,” Cunningham said.