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Hawaii County Official Mulls Running For The Top Office


When you think of elections in 2020, you might think first of the presidential election. But there are others — including a number of important county races across the islands. One of them is Hawaii County — where the mayor’s race is drawing interest from someone who’s already a public official.

Hawaii County Prosecutor Mitch Roth is in his second term, and is eligible to run again for the office in 2020. But he’s got some other thoughts.

“A lot of people have been approaching me about running for Mayor. As I’ve started to see what’s going on, I have been considering running.”

One of his major concerns: Hawaii County’s growing budget.

“Everybody has to buy using these procurement contracts but we may not be negotiating for the best contracts that we can. I’ll give you an example, our computers, we bought 23, I may be able to get those computers at a price that’s lesser on Amazon. When I became the prosecutor we asked, why aren’t we doing these things, and a lot of times the answer was, well, we’ve always done it this way.”

Roth says the County needs to look beyond its borders at best practices on how to save money. 

“We need to look at ways other places have done things to really make big differences. We have to take some common sense approaches. If this is the way we do it, why do we do it this way, and can we do it better?  If we have the whole picture and we’re communicating that whole picture and not hiding stuff from each other, we’re all going to do well.”  

Roth says another priority would be open communication between the Administration and the County Council, which he says is lacking.

“This year we have some really big overtime issues. The Council had no knowledge about overtime, no knowledge about our supplemental requests. If you’re making decisions, having that information is so important.” 

It is not yet clear what Roth’s level of support might be or who else may be considering a run —including current Mayor Harry Kim.

Political observers say  other potential candidates could include County Council Chair Aaron Chung and former Hawaii County Civil Defense Director Darryl Oliveira.

Roth says he’s not made a final decision.

“I still love being the prosecutor. If there’s somebody that steps up that I believe can really take us there, I’d be happy to stay as the prosecutor.”

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