A shortage of good jobs and Hawaii County’s growing garbage problem are tops on Maile David’s priority list as she campaigns for the County Council District 6 seat, spanning the southern region of the island from Kealakekua to Volcano.
“What are we going to do about our trash,” asks David, 59, a third-generation Kona resident. “This affects everyone, islandwide.”
David opposes trucking Hilo garbage to the West Hawaii landfill in Puuanahulu, and said a new, lined Hilo landfill should be built to handle east side garbage problems. “Hauling trash to Kona doesn’t resolve our trash problem. It just transfers the problem to another location,” she said. “We’ve got to get more recycling options for the general population so it all doesn’t end up in the landfill.”
A waste-to-energy incinerator shouldn’t be the first option, she said.
“The safety issues have to be addressed first,” she said.
Decreasing the county’s reliance on fossil fuel and making the county more energy-independent should start with an emphasis on making solar panel installation more affordable for homeowners, she said. Currently, Hawaii Electric Light Co. requires homeowners to pay for an expensive study if the saturation of photovoltaic energy reaches 15 percent in an area.
“We should help people become individually energy efficient,” she said. “We need to help homeowners so they can convert to solar power and get off the grid. Resolutions we can do as a council body to help that effort are very important.”
While three West Hawaii council districts contribute almost 70 percent of all property tax revenue collected by the island, David doesn’t believe a proportionate share should be returned to those districts. She said in the past there may have been inequities, but more recently they have been addressed with large projects in West Hawaii.
“We’re one island. It has to be divided up equally to provide services for the whole island regardless of where it comes from,” she said. “We should all share in the revenues equally.”
David opposes employee furloughs because she said it puts a disproportionate burden on the employees to balance the budget. She favors a one-time across-the-board assessment on all property owners to collect the money needed to balance the budget. David stressed that it would not be a property tax increase that would continue, but a special assessment for emergency use.
“Our county workers should not bear the sole burden of our deficits. It really is a hardship on some of these workers,” David said. “We should all share the burden and not tag a certain working class.”
David said each council member is charged with seeing to the specific needs of his or her district, but the council should work as a team to address issues islandwide.
“You build an island one community at a time.” she said. “In order to get services for your district, you have to be able to work with everyone.”
David has witnessed the nine-member council break into majority and minority factions, but she doesn’t think she’d be part of either faction if she’s elected.
“Decisions shouldn’t be made based on majority/minority. I know it has been in the past,” she said. “But I really believe if we can work together, we can accomplish things.”