Charles Guccione, 76, a retired insurance agent, wants to bring a more businesslike outlook to the Hawaii County Council, and he believes he could do that as the North Kona District 8 representative.
The most pressing issue facing the county is jobs, Guccione said, and the best way to stimulate the economy is to make it easier for small businesses to do business. Guccione, a boat captain and scuba instructor, said the county and the state impose fees, such as the recent failed attempt by the state to institute a parking fee at the harbors, that only make it harder for businesses to stay afloat.
“That’s what got me involved,” said Guccione, who added he’s never run for political office before. “These poor guys are struggling to make a living, and they try to add yet another fee, a tax, really.”
Guccione proposes a tax incentive for employers who add new hires to the payroll.
He said county employee furloughs over the past two years haven’t affected police and fire protection, since those employees weren’t furloughed. He questions whether the furloughs would have been necessary, however, if the county only collected the fees that are already owed, such as haulers’ tipping fees.
“Maybe if we collected the fees that are already owed to us, maybe we could eliminate those furlough days,” Guccione said.
Guccione is also in favor of impact fees so that new development shoulders more of the burden of new roads, parks, sewer and water service and other amenities, rather than having it come out of property taxes.
If he’s elected, Guccione’s focus would be on serving his district.
‘We’re in districts,” he said.
He said he’d avoid being part of a majority or minority faction, but would he take bills on their own merits and especially consider their impacts on District 8.
“We should get our share, but if it’s something good for the island, I’d vote for it regardless,” he said. “I’ve never really been a politician, so I wouldn’t act the way politicians do.”
When it comes to both alternative energy and the county’s growing solid waste disposal problems, Guccione believes the county should look to other areas that have successfully overcome these hurdles and research how they did it.
“I’m not in favor of reinventing the wheel,” he said. “We’re not the only ones with these problems. Why don’t we check with other places to see what they’re doing?”
Guccione favors sorting as much of the recyclables out of the trash as possible, then using a waste-to-energy incinerator to deal with the rest. The electricity could then be sold to Hawaii Electric Light Co.
“If you can burn trash to make energy, you solve two problems,” he said.
There might even be a use for the resulting ashes, he said.
In the meantime, there’s still space in the Hilo landfill to accommodate Hilo garbage without having to truck it to West Hawaii.
“Keep it open until we solve the problem,” he said.