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Mayor Mitch Roth focuses on improving county services in State of the County address

Mitch Roth state of the county
Hawaiʻi County Mayor Mitch Roth
Hawaiʻi County Mayor Mitch Roth gives his 2022 State of the County address.

Mayor Mitch Roth thanked Hawaiʻi Island residents for enduring another year of COVID-19 during his State of the County address Thursday. He highlighted the investments and county efforts to help residents throughout 2021 — and also outlined his priorities for the next year.

High on that list: continuing to update and streamline county services – the county’s electronic processing system. Roth acknowledged the frustration and discontent among residents, but says in seven months the county has successfully transitioned to paperless transactions.

"As a measure of where we are versus where we were, we can take a look at the average building permits issued by month in 2020," he said. "Before administration took office, an average of 269 permits were issued a month in 2021. With the implementation of ethic and a two-month delay in process, we eventually were able to up that status quo to 296 permits a month."

Roth says the county is now averaging more than 500 building permits a month, which will help his administration’s efforts to build more affordable housing for local families. He says there are 5,500 affordable housing units in the pipeline for construction.

Roth also said that growth requires repair and maintenance of the county’s infrastructure.

"By the end of 2022, we hope to complete Kalanianaole Avenue reconstruction, Waianuenue Avenue rehabilitation, as well as an additional 28 miles of much-needed paving maintenance," he said.

"We have also added a total of 428 projects to the Department of Water Supply pipeline, with the understanding that the water is a necessary building block for sustainable communities island-wide and will be critical in our quest to build affordable housing for our residents to thrive and succeed."

Roth says another priority is to bolster the health and safety of Hawaiʻi Island communities by investing more into the fire department. He says last year’s Mana Road Fire, which burned more than 40,000 acres and destroyed several structures, highlighted the need to bolster response services.

"Since the fire, we've invested heavily in our departments, and with the help of the Sayer Foundation, and other grants have been able to secure two Big-Dog wildland fire response vehicles to brush trucks to water rescue crafts, and purchase a replacement for Chopper 2, totaling $6 million investment toward the health and safety of our communities. We've also been able to hire 34 firefighters within the last year."

Roth says his administration is also investing in the police department to address community concerns.

He also outlined priorities in natural, cultural and environmental preservation, sustainable food production, renewable energy, and improving public transportation.

You can view Mayor Roth's State of the County address below:

Casey Harlow is an HPR reporter and occasionally fills in as local host of Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Contact him at or on Twitter (@CaseyHarlow).
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