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CANDIDATE PROFILE - HawaiʻI County Mayor

Harry Kim

Residence: Hilo


Harry Kim was educated at Southern Oregon State University, graduating with a B.S. in Education and a M.S. in Economics. He was a medic in the U.S. Army and later a public high school and college teacher. He began working for the County of Hawai'i as the Law Enforcement Assistance Agency Director 1972-1976, Civil Defense Administrator 1976-2000, two-term Mayor from 2000-2008 and another term as Mayor from 2016-2020.

Harry served as an international advisor on natural disaster response systems for the United Nations. He was selected by the National Academy of Science to review the volcanic hazards program of the U.S. Geological Survey.

Harry is married to his wife Roberta (Bobbie) Kim for 53 years and is a proud father of two sons and two grandchildren.

Why do you think you are the right candidate for mayor of Hawaiʻi County? 

I have always asked people to judge me by my work. I ask that anyone to look into accomplishments of past as a teacher, a coach, a Law Enforcement Assistance Administrator, Civil Defense Administrator and Mayor. In all of these positions I have made a pledge to always be of trust and truth. Those pledges are that whatever I do, I will work towards earning your trust of a commitment to do my best to make things better for our community. This pledge has been kept. It is an accumulation of all the knowledge and experience of these positions that I feel I am qualified to take on the responsibilities of your mayor, especially in these difficult times.

Please tell us about your biggest personal or professional accomplishments in the past five years.

This answer so strongly reflects on how question no. 1 was answered. The past 3 years have seen major issues that had to be dealt with. These are of Maunakea, the Puna eruption (loss of over 700 homes), Hurricane Lane, and the Coronavirus pandemic. As I dealt with each problem, I fully realize the gift of accumulated knowledge and experience enabled me to know the wisdom of developing the best team possible to address these issues. With that team, the confidence of steering the community to respond in the best way possible. The satisfaction of knowing that the community was served in the best way possible and lead the community through difficult times.

What will be your top three priorities in your first 100 days as mayor? 

1. Continue and complete the homeless programs for the island including housing projects in Waikoloa, Village 9 and Lanakila.

2. Complete the post-impact plans for the people of the eruptions of 1990 (Kalapana) and lower Puna in 2018.

3. See Hawaii Island through the difficulties of the Coronavirus issue. This includes economic recovery.

Some say "development" has a negative connotation in Hawaiʻi. Others say it is an important element in our community's future. Where do you stand?

Both of these statements are true. It is the responsibility of government to ensure that the economic development is one of the important responsibilities of government to address. Regardless of where one stands on economic development, it is a necessity that must be addressed. In addressing the economic issue, it must be directed to a lifestyle and goals of the community. One of the major concerns expressed by Hawaiʻi's people, is that an economic development was based on the sacrifice of a lifestyle -- not for the people of Hawaiʻi, but for the wealth of a few. I believe from the beginning of how land was zoned to the type of development to a great degree, does reflect this. This is especially true for the indigenous people of Hawaiʻi.

As mayor, what would you do to implement the principles of the ʻĀina Aloha Economic Futures Declaration?

It is stated in those principles that our social and economic and government systems engage and respond to a collective voice in integrative ways to balance power and benefit. This would be the basis of going forward. The government leadership must establish a relationship to the community so that the direction of going forward is in response to a collective voice of the community. It is of this, that must be the goal to begin to establish a relationship with the community to achieve this.

Which areas of the Aloha+ Challenge will you focus on as mayor, and what plans do you have to help achieve these sustainability goals on Hawaiʻi Island?

All of the goals established should be addressed in achieving sustainability. Perhaps the foundation of all of the goals lies in the "smart sustainable communities." These words printed, says it all that we must strive for increase livability and resilience in the built environment through planning and implementation at the State and County levels. I would consider this the most important foundation of going forward.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the County has gotten involved in addressing food, housing, medical care, and other social welfare needs. How should the County pivot to focus on economic recovery and growth?

The major pivot of learning is the vulnerability of an economic dependency on tourism. We must learn of the importance of an economy that should be more diverse. It is this lesson of the pandemic experience that should be the basis of going forward. An economy that is aimed towards sustainability and not towards dependability on especially a single-sourced economy. Hawaiʻi has special gifts that no place else is fortunate enough to have. It would be irresponsible of leadership not to learn and go forward with the goal of diverse economy and sustainability. This is what the governments of Hawaiʻi should accumulate people to work towards.

How important is the growth of clean, renewable energy for Hawaiʻi Island? Which technologies should we embrace, and should any be left off the table?

It is of critical importance that this is continued to be addressed for the state of Hawaiʻi. Hawaiʻi has done a very good job in addressing this and establish goals of sustainability, especially that of energy. This must be expanded to other issues as well. Hawaiʻi Island has advantages of solar, wind, geothermal and the use of waste as a resource that must be pursued to the maximum. I see no area that should be avoided except that of nuclear energy or any other resources that might be detrimental to our lifestyle and environment.

What factors or considerations will you take in hiring your cabinet, and who are some of the people you are considering or the strategy you will use to build your team?

The most important of achieving your goals is accumulation of good, committed and mission-driven people on your team. The team that I have assembled now to a great degree, reflects the best people I could find of commitment and capability. The search for people to make a better team will always be pursued. As some may know, several changes have already been made in this administration. The search for betterment never ends.

As Mayor, you will make decisions that affect this island and the children who will inherit it for generations to come. What is your commitment to them?

My commitment to the children of today and tomorrow has always been the same in every job I have been given. It is to make this a better place.

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