D’Almeida: Overregulation hinders economic recovery

Eric Paul D’Almeida sees over-regulation as a prime reason the county can’t pull itself out of its economic slump.

D’Almeida, 51, is running for the County Council District 1 seat, and he said he’s seen plenty of examples of burdensome regulations at both the state and county level in the Hamakua District. As a council member, he would push to ease the burden of county permits and regulations to make it easier for small businesses to get off the ground, he said.

“It’s no secret that starting a small business in Hawaii is very hard,” he said.

He doesn’t see furloughs as the best way to balance the budget. But he thinks county government could be restructured to end duplication and cut waste.

“Government could be streamlined,” he said. “As a conservative, I’m not a fan of big government. … I would end the furloughs, and I would try to find them something else to do. I don’t believe cutting government means people are going to lose their jobs. There’s always restructuring.”

D’Almeida opposes expanding the Hilo landfill and he advocates a waste-to-energy incinerator as the solution. If Hawaii Island doesn’t have enough garbage to support an incinerator, then it should look into allowing other islands to send their garbage here for a fee.

“I’m not in favor of digging holes and putting trash into them,” he said. “I’m not in favor of digging another hole or digging a bigger hole to put our trash into.”

Trucking garbage across the island would ultimately be required to send it to wherever the incinerator is built, he said.

Alternative energy should be a big part of the county’s source of electricity, he said. But he’s not ready to require Hawaii Electric Light Co. to use a certain percentage of alternative energy or cut rates.

“It’s hard for a conservative like me to force any private business or private enterprise to do stuff,” he said. “Maybe we can work with HELCO to find some better energy solutions.

Geothermal energy has to play a big role in that mix, he said. D’Almeida said he’d want to do some research to see why people near the geothermal plant in Puna are getting sick, while people in other areas living near geothermal plants aren’t having health problems.

There may be something going on with that particular plant, I don’t know,” he said.

As a part-Hawaiian, D’Almeida said he understands the cultural sensitivity of geothermal, but he believes “Madame Pele would want to help her people.”

D’Almeida said he would use his psychology training as a mediator on the council to help avoid factions, and he’d look after his district in countywide issues.

“I firmly believe that when you’re elected by the constituency, you represent that constituency,” he said.