KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii: Tuesday night’s Kona Town Meeting was billed as a state of the county update, but with Mayor Billy Kenoi and his opponent in the upcoming election – council chair Dominic Yagong – both on the agenda to speak, the evening had the feeling of a campaign forum.
Both officials spoke about the initiatives they have spearheaded over recent months. Kenoi focused on road projects, including the fast tracked, on time and under budget Ane Keohokalole Highway, Kona’s new mid-level road. Yagong touted a plan in Paauilo that will use county owned Hamakua land to grow food for the Food Basket.
One hot topic at the meeting… trash. Specifically, a recent study that recommended the county truck garbage from Hilo to Kona. Yagong was critical over the administration commissioned study, which cost a few hundred thousand dollars and contradicted an Integrated Solid Waste Management Plan completed in 2009. Mayor Kenoi said no decision has been made to truck Hilo waste to Puuanahulu, the West Hawaii landfill.
Other differences emerged: both elected officials laid out their position on geothermal energy expansion on Hawaii Island, as well as their individual budget philosophies.
Overall, Yagong struck a critical tone. The candidate for the mayor’s office didn’t pull any punches when it came to some administrative actions.
Both figures spoke for about an hour, answering questions from the public after making their presentation.
Kona Town Meeting is developed, produced, coordinated, and conducted by Community Enterprises, which was founded in 2005 to create a forum for concerned citizens of West Hawaii. Its mission is to present educational forums for Kona area residents which includes speakers from government, business, and non-profit organizations for monthly town meetings. Visit the Kona Town Meeting website for more info.
(VIDEO by David Corrigan, VOICE of Stephanie Salazar)