Kenoi, Kim outline differences at friendly mayor's race forum - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Kenoi, Kim outline differences at friendly mayor's race forum on Big Island

HILO, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Billy Kenoi and Harry Kim have known each other for decades. Kim coached Kenoi when Kenoi was just eight years old. And Kenoi was Kim's executive assistant when Kim was mayor. So it was a friendly matchup when the two candidates for Hawaii County Mayor met Friday in a candidates forum at the University of Hawaii-Hilo.

One of the topics at the forum was what to do with the island's trash as the Hilo Landfill nears capacity. Mayor Kenoi pointed to Oahu's H-Power facility as something that Hawaii County can emulate.

"They (Oahu) have four times as much trash as we do, over a thousand tons. They generate over 50 megawatts of energy that powers over 40,000 homes, and they do it for a cost of 91 dollars per ton," said Kenoi.

"Whether waste to energy will be the solution here, I don't know," said former mayor Kim. "It may be something we'll pursue, but we will pursue alternatives besides a landfill."

Perhaps the most pointed disagreement between the two had to do with Community Development Planning on the Big Island, a program started by Kim when he was mayor.

"By law, government will work with the public to determine their lifestyle and the future of their land," said Kim. "I think it's very important that we do this, by ordinance, by law. I was not happy with this administration not fully embracing it."

Kenoi countered that his administration has started even more community development plans several Big Island districts. But, he added, "Community development plans are important because they give the community meaningful input. But they do not supersede community services that everybody expects every day."

Both candidates also came out in support of geothermal energy, but with close government oversight.

"I am here to support geothermal," said Kim. "I am here to tell you we must do it safely like California does it. We must enforce rules and regulations and not depend on the private industry to tell you what the situation is in regards to public safety."

"Currently we have 38 megawatts being produced," said Kenoi about Puna Geothermal Venture's plant. "A lot of fear and questions are going around that there will be a thousand megawatts and industrialization of Puna. And the politics of fear is the worst politics of all."

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