Wendell Kaehuaea isn’t for or against geothermal as an energy producing technology.
But the state Senate District 2 candidate said if Hawaii Island is going to produce and use more geothermal technology, he would like to see a few changes in how that’s done.
“We need more safety controls in place,” Kaehuaea said. “I want the geothermal guys to be more available.”
Specifically, he said he’d like to see Puna Geothermal Ventures officials keep office hours in Pahoa and not “sit behind the 14-foot fence.”
Hawaii Island residents also should be able to benefit financially. Profit from energy sales goes to Hawaii Electric Light Co.’s shareholders, while geothermal royalties go to the state, the county and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
Residents aren’t paying lower prices for electricity, he said.
Hawaii can give up fossil fuel use, he said. He’d like to deregulate HELCO, which would also help bring down energy prices, he said.
Other issues for the state include unemployment and transportation.
“You have to take care of small businesses,” Kaehuaea said. “Our mayor may talk about making it easier, but they don’t. We need to give the Hawaii guys a tax break.”
He’d like to see more medical practitioners on the island, as well as more competition for cargo hauler Matson. Kaehuaea said he supports changes to the Jones Act, a federal law that limits which companies may sail between domestic U.S. ports.
The state Department of Education this year discussed possible cuts to bus routes around the state, because of a $16 million funding shortfall. Kaehuaea said more competitive bids can save money and bus routes.
“One company has the whole state,” he said. If more companies were involved, with bids for smaller areas in which to provide bus services, “you can provide more jobs.”
The state has enough money to fund the buses, he said.
Officials are just spending it in the wrong places.
He’d like to see state Auditor Marion Higa conduct audits of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.
“They’ve got to listen to her,” he said.
He was critical of the state’s implementation of parking fees at some state parks, including Akaka Falls. Little fees here and there add up, he said.
Kaehuaea said he was also concerned about the University of Hawaii at Hilo.
“I don’t want to pump any money into the university unless it goes to the classroom,” he said.
Affordable housing is another issue the state should address, Kaehuaea said.
The housing price government officials define as affordable — about $250,000 — isn’t reasonable, he said.
He said the state could create leases on state land for people to build homes.
He said he opposes apartment housing, though.
“Apartments you get problems,” he said. “You cannot put people in pigeonholes.”
Finally, Kaehuaea said he would like to see more controls on people receiving welfare checks. Specifically, he said he’d require people receiving assistance to complete community service.
“They’ve got to do something” to qualify for the assistance, he said.