Naalehu resident Lee McIntosh wants to see a more limited but more effective government that respects individual liberties.
McIntosh, 30, is running for the newly redrawn South Kona/Ka‘u County Council District 6 that runs from the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park boundary all the way to Kealakekua.
While just three West Hawaii council districts account for more than two-thirds of the county’s property tax revenue, McIntosh doesn’t believe those districts should get back exactly what they put in. Instead, he advocates looking at an entirely new system of property assessments.
Property values could be determined on an area basis, with a flat square-foot base value, he said. Additional assessments, for waterfront, view, road frontage and the like could then be added to the base as appropriate for each property, he said.
“Rather than tie it down to certain areas, we really need to help bring up the entire county,” McIntosh said. “Then the entire county could be helped rather than east, west, north and south.”
McIntosh said his first concern would be his district, but he would also keep the entire island in mind and see how the district’s needs fit in.
“You need to find a balance,” he said. “I’d need to look at my own district, as well as the entire island.”
McIntosh said the County Council has in the past divided itself into majority and minority factions, but he doesn’t believe it has to be that way.
“The council needs to move way from east-west politics,” he said. “We need to look at problems, look at outcomes and work to get to those outcomes. You need to work to a compromise and try to get your colleagues to vote with you. You don’t want to create cliques and isolate yourself in that clique.”
On the issue of energy, McIntosh said the county could put pressure on the state Legislature and the Public Utilities Commission, but it has little authority to push Hawaii Electric Light Co. to increase the renewable energy component of its portfolio, or reduce its rates.
“The only way we’re going to see our electric rates drop is if the Legislature opens up the delivery of electricity,” he said.
He said pushing HELCO to use more alternative energy will only drive up electric rates.
McIntosh said the county will likely have to truck Hilo garbage to the West Hawaii landfill at Puuanahulu until a more permanent solution is found. He said the county doesn’t have the population needed to support a waste-to-energy incinerator, and expanding the Hilo landfill is unlikely because of the heavy rainfall in the area and the proximity to the Hilo International Airport.
“I think they’ll have to close that landfill,” he said.
He recommends a partnership with H-Power on Oahu and shipping the Big Island’s garbage there.
McIntosh has firsthand experience with being inconvenienced by county employee furloughs, even though a West Hawaii Today survey found most residents didn’t even notice the furloughs were ongoing. He said the county Elections Office was closed for furloughs the day he went to file his papers.
“I wouldn’t support furloughs. I’d look at how the county could cut waste,” he said. “I’m sure there’s waste in there somewhere.”