KAILUA-KONA – Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim’s bid for re-election fell short Saturday. The 81-year-old incumbent was seeking his fourth term overall, but trailed two candidates in his quest to retain his seat in the primary.
Hawaii Prosecutor Mitch Roth led the crowded mayoral pack, having earned 20,225 votes, good for 31.1% of the total, according to the final results released Sunday by the Hawaii Office of Elections.
Community organizer and activist Ikaika Marzo in second place, with 13,764 votes, good for 21.2%, followed by Kim with 9,988 votes, or 15.4%.
Neil Azavedo, Hawaii County’s division chief in Public Works for the Highways Division, was in fourth place with 7,274 votes, or 11.2%. Stacy Higa, CEO of Na Leo TV, earned 5,921 votes, good for 9.1%.
Since none of the candidates receive more than 50% of the vote, the top two finishers will square off in the Nov. 3 general election, which will be Roth and Marzo.
Roth, who outraised his 14 competitors in contributions by a wide margin, said in a Saturday evening interview that he feels good about the results thus far.
“We’re very optimistic, we’re very excited to move forward,” Roth, 55, said. “We had a lot of good people in this race.”
Roth was first elected prosecutor in 2012. He said after the early results came in that he was looking forward to a runoff election and the next steps should the results hold.
Marzo, 36, has never run for office prior to his attempt for mayor.
“We’re so happy, so relieved,” Marzo said Saturday in reaction to the early results.
The president of Kalapana Cultural Tours created a large following during the 2018 Kilauea eruption by posting daily updates of the lava flow online. He and several others formed a grassroots community center known as “the hub” that distributed meals, donations and emergency items to the affected community during that time.
If the results hold, it could mean the end for Kim’s long career in public service. The former Civil Defense director was previously mayor of Hawaii from 2000 to 2008 before he regained the seat in 2016.
“Judge me by my work, that’s all I ask, and if that’s not good for what you want as a mayor, then you’ll let me know. And I accept that,” Kim said in reaction to the early results. “I said that from the very beginning and I say it again. Obviously, it’s disappointing. I didn’t realize that it was not the kind of government that’d work, but it apparently it was not and I accept that.”
The last four years have been busy. Kim dealt with disasters from the get-go: the Kilauea eruption, Hurricane Lane, protests on Mauna Kea, and now, the COVID-19 pandemic.
His administration tackled major island-wide issues in that time, too, implementing short-term vacation rental regulations and recently implementing new county building permitting process rules – an issue that nearly every candidate said needed to be addressed.
But the mayor has also had to defend increasing a number of taxes and fees in the last four years and increased budgets. He also suffered a pair of heart attacks and pneumonia.
Kim said he wouldn’t change much on how he led the island during the last four years.
“On the whole, I’m very, very happy with what the government did, responding,” he said.
He wasn’t sure what the next chapter of his life will look like. He said he called close members of his administration after he saw the results and spoke with them.
“My life has always been a very simple one,” he said. “I enjoy nature like you’ll never know. Whether I’m mayor or not, the things I enjoy are the same and I’ll continue to have more time to enjoy them.”
Waltjen Leads Prosecutor Race
In Hawaii County’s three-way race for prosecutor, Hawaii County’s deputy prosecuting attorney Kelden Waltjen won big.
Waltjen has earned enough votes to avoid a runoff in November.
Jared Auna came in second with Christopher Bridges earning enough votes for third. Both Bridges and Auna run their own private practices.
Waltjen, who earned his law degree from the University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law, has worked as deputy prosecutor since 2012, the year Roth won the job as Hawaii’s top prosecutor.
The prosecuting attorney, the only other countywide office besides the mayor, is a nonpartisan four-year post. The office’s budget is around $11 million with over 120 staff members, 38 of whom are attorneys.
Hawaii County Council Results
Hawaii County County Council results show incumbents keeping their seats. There will be runoffs in the general election for districts 1 and 5. Here’s a rundown:
District 1 (top two advance to general election): Dominic Yagong, 2,307; Heather Kimball, 1,770; Bethany Joy Morrison, 1,170; Jaerick Medeiros-Garcia, 288; Monique Perreira, 235; Jaclyn Moore, 221; Elroy Juan, 215 District 2: Incumbent Aaron Chung, 6,714; William Halversen, 873 District 3: Incumbent Susan Lee Loy, 4,153; Paul Neves, 1,638; Henry Kaaihue Jr., 1,495; District 4: Incumbent Ashley Kierkiewicz, 4,527; unopposed District 5 (top two advance to general election): Incumbent Matt Kaneali‘i-Kleinfelder, 2,677; Ikaika Rodenhurst, 2,372; Fredric Wirick, 651 District 6: Incumbent Maile David, 4,348; unopposed District 7: Incumbent Rebecca Villegas, 3,167; Jane Clement, 2,349 District 8: Holeka Inaba, 3,381; Craig “Bo” Kahui, 2,210 District 9: Incumbent Tim Richards, 3,683; Philip Aiona, 2,631; Ranae Keane, 565
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