Mitch Roth will be Hawaii island’s new mayor.

Roth, Hawaii County’s prosecutor, was far ahead of Ikaika Marzo with 57.4% of the vote, according to the latest round of results released early Wednesday morning. Marzo trailed with 40.1% of the vote.

Statewide turnout was nearly 67%, which was higher than it was in 2008 when Barack Obama was on the ballot.

It will be Roth’s first time filling the county’s top executive seat, held by Mayor Harry Kim, who lost his bid for reelection by finishing third in the August primary.

Roth, 56, brings years of public service and administrative experience to the job stemming from his career in Hawaii’s judicial system.

Ikaika Marzo, candidate for Big Island Mayor, sign-waves with supporters along Hilo Bayfront. Photo: Tim Wright
Ikaika Marzo, candidate for Big Island Mayor, sign-waves with supporters along Hilo Bayfront. He was trailing Mitch Roth in the election. Tim Wright/Civil Beat/2020

He more than doubled the amount raised by Marzo, a community organizer and businessman, during the campaign. Roth brought in $426,088 to Marzo’s $172,006.

An attorney for more than 20 years, he also finished ahead of Marzo during the primary election, earning 20,235 votes, good for 31.1% of the total in a race that featured 15 candidates. Marzo earned 13,775 votes, good for 21.2% and a spot in the runoff election Tuesday.

Mitch Roth candidate for Big Island Mayor holds up his sign outside of his Hilo campaign office. Photo: Tim Wright
Mitch Roth holds up his sign outside of his Hilo campaign office. He was leading Ikaika Marzo in the race for mayor. Tim Wright/Civil Beat/2020

Perhaps the biggest difference between Roth and Marzo during the campaign – besides governmental experience – was their stance on astronomy and the delayed, controversial Thirty Meter Telescope proposed to be built on Mauna Kea.

Marzo was opposed to TMT being added to the 12 telescopes already on Mauna Kea, objecting to extending the leases on grounds that Native Hawaiians weren’t treated fairly when the university constructed the Mauna Kea Access Road on Hawaiian Home Lands back in the 1960s without permission from the U.S. Department of the Interior or the state.

Roth, however, supports construction of TMT and said that the entire community would benefit from the economic and educational opportunities it and the astronomy industry provide. The construction and high-tech jobs TMT would create will be all-the-more important for the island as it recovers from the pandemic, he said.

During the clash between opponents and proponents of TMT’s construction, Gov. David Ige assigned most of the responsibility to Kim. It’s yet to play out what the new mayor’s role will be if or when the project resumes.

County Council Races

County Council District 1
Heather Kimball 51.3%
Dominic Yagong 42%

County Council District 5
Matt Kaneali’i-Kleinfelder 47.2%
Ikaika Rodenhurst 43.6%

Hawaii County Charter Amendments

Technical and grammatical revisions of the charter: Yes, 65.2%

Splitting council meeting locations between east and west: Yes, 77.3%

Clarify the role of Department of Research and Development: Yes, 75.2%

Granting disciplining authority of police and fire commissions: Yes, 74%

Extending council members terms from 2 to 4 years: No, 47.8%

Allow Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Preservation Fund money to pay for staff: Yes, 52.1%

Granting the council chair authority to discipline council members: Yes, 81.6%

Clarify role of the Department of Information Technology: No, 46.4%

Establishment of a Disaster and Emergency Fund: Yes, 51.5%

Should the Department of Finance oversee the Public Access, Open Space and Preservation and Maintenance Fund: Yes, 44.2%

Mandatory Charter reviews: Yes, 69.5%

Should qualifications be added to Corporation Counsel requirements: Yes, 71.3%

Clarify duties of Hawaii Fire Department to include water safety: Yes, 58.8%

Membership on boards and committees: Yes, 47.6%

Capital budget and capital programs: Yes, 69.3%

Grant Board of Ethics authority to impose civil fines for violations: Yes, 70.2%

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more results come in.

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