Hawai'i County has a contentious race for Mayor, with 13 candidates running for the office. Between now and Saturday’s primary election day, we’re taking a closer look at some of the candidates and their priorities. One of the candidates has held the job before. From Kona, HPR’s Sherry Bracken reports.
Harry Kim was Hawai'i County Mayor from 2000 through 2008, following 24 years as Hawai'i County Civil Defense Administrator. Kim says one of his concerns relates to a state law “act 97, it removed all requirements for anyone wanting to drill a geothermal well, an exploratory well. It means that anyone could drill anywhere. I’m for geothermal. You have to do it right.”
Another concern is more universal. “On this island the homeless and at risk are growing by leaps and bounds” Kim says “We have to find every way to make sure that we do everything we can to ease the financial burden on them.”
Kim says the mayor can only do so much, and should rely on developers to provide services to supplement the county budget. About half that budget comes from property taxes. Would Kim consider raising them? “I don’t care to raise taxes of any kind” he says.
During Kim’s 8 years as Mayor, county spending more than doubled, from $175 million dollars to $403 million dollars. But Kim says his predecessors were too thrifty, and he needed to hire around 550 people to catch up, “In addition, I’m proud of the amount of money we saved. The last two years, $26 million dollars was savings for future expenditures.”
Harry Kim has been endorsed by the Sierra Club, the Hawai'i Government Employees Union, the Carpenters and Firemens Unions.