A former state representative and Hawaii County clerk, Ken Goodenow said he has the experience to help a freshman-majority County Council stay on track.
Goodenow said he’s looking for an islandwide approach to solving the county’s problems.
“I hope there won’t be factions. There will be five new council members, six if I’m elected,” Goodenow said. “I’m hoping some of the political dogma that has been a stumbling block for recent councils won’t be there.”
He said his islandwide approach would still benefit his district.
“A lot of the times, district issues and islandwide issues are the same,” he said.
Goodenow said an integrated solid waste management plan is needed to help the island solve its mounting garbage problems. That plan would include increasing recycling and building a waste-to-energy incinerator, but it wouldn’t include expanding the Hilo landfill.
“Expanding the Hilo landfill seems not to be an option given permitting problems,” he said. “It’s also a bad idea from an environmental standpoint.”
Goodenow said the county’s electricity rates are too high, and “the people are suffering,” and he sees alternative energy, especially geothermal energy, as a way to bring costs down. He said expanding geothermal on the island needs to be undertaken in a fair and transparent process, and people need to be assured of savings.
“The county needs to be firm that the community’s interests are represented,” he said. “Lower electricity rates will help agriculture; it will help small businesses; it will help everyone.”
Goodenow doesn’t think there should be a strict formulaic approach to divvying up county projects and services but he does believe some of the recommendations in a recent report on the county’s tax system should be implemented.
“There is public concern about the fairness of the property tax system,” Goodenow said. “We need to look at the big picture and work to evaluate the structure and ensure that the county’s tax collections are being fulfilled in a fair manner.”
Among the changes Goodenow would like to see is the removal of the fee required to contest property assessments. He also doesn’t think property owners should have to show a 20 percent difference between the county’s assessed value of their property and the market value of the property in order to appeal their assessment.
Goodenow would get rid of county employee furloughs as quickly as possible, and he’s “cautiously optimistic” the economy will improve enough to do so soon. A West Hawaii Today survey in 2010 found most residents weren’t even aware the furloughs were in place.
“Individual employees have taken pay cuts to help balance the budget,” he said. “As the economy improves, we need to take a serious look at what is the right size of government.”