Greggor Ilagan’s website has a clock counting down the seconds to the Aug. 11 primary, an indication of the anticipation the Puna District 4 County Council candidate feels as he works toward becoming the youngest Hawaii County Council member.
Ilagan, who just turned 26, jumped into the race because he saw a need for more effective representation in the district. He’s spent the past few months not only campaigning, but meeting with officials and getting answers to his questions about the pressing needs of the district.
“I really feel that Puna has not been represented very well,” Ilagan said. “I want to focus on my district first and Hawaii County second.”
The most pressing problem facing the district, Ilagan said, is traffic safety on Highway 130. While it is a state road, the county should pick up the ball and get things moving, he said. After talking with the state Department of Transportation district engineer, Ilagan thinks there’s more that can be done.
“I realize it’s a state highway, but we need to do something about it,” he said, “and if the County Council can start prioritizing it, then it can get done.”
Ilagan is aware that a good portion of property taxes come from West Hawaii, but he doesn’t think the West Hawaii districts should get back exactly what they put in. Public safety has got to come first, he said.
“I do want to give them their fair share of the property taxes,” he said. “But first things first is the safety issue. I feel we have to take care of safety issues first for West Hawaii and East Hawaii.”
Politics and factionalism need to be put aside for the good of the community, Ilagan said. He said he would find out what other council members need and “find a way to factor my agenda in there.”
“I don’t see why we can’t help each other out,” Ilagan said. “There’s no point in just picking a side just to be in the majority. It’s the people we are here for.”
Ilagan doesn’t believe a new landfill could get the necessary permits in Hilo, but he’s not convinced a waste-to-energy incinerator is the way to go, either. He said he’s not sure the technology has advanced enough to make it practical, and he questions whether there’s enough trash on the island to justify a large facility that might require other islands’ trash be shipped in to make it worthwhile.
“It’s a great theory,” he says about waste-to-energy. “The theory sounds great, but we’d have to research it to make sure it’s feasible.”
While a West Hawaii Today survey showed most Big Island residents weren’t inconvenienced by employee furloughs, Ilagan thinks the days off have had an effect on productivity.
“People are realizing a slow response time (from government), but they’re not pinpointing it to the furloughs,” he said.
Ilagan proposes more one-stop centers and sharing of secretarial and support staff as a way for the county to save money while still maintaining productivity.
Ilagan favors reducing energy costs by incorporating more solar, wind, hydro and biomass energy in addition to geothermal.
“I support geothermal,” he said, “I just don’t want to sacrifice safety.”