New Big Island mayor hopes to ‘change the philosophy of government’

Election 2020

HILO, Hawaii (KHON2) — Less than 12 hours after the election results were announced, Mitch Roth, Hawaii County’s new mayor-elect, said he is happy and honored to be chosen for the top executive seat on the Big Island.

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Roth woke up early on Nov. 4 and hit the ground running.

He is scheduled to be sworn-in as Hawaii County Mayor on Dec. 7. One of the first things that he hopes to do is make changes to lift up Big Island communities.

“We want to make sure that we change the philosophy of government. We want to make sure that our government is there, helping people thrive and succeed,” Roth explained.

He said this is the perfect time to make adjustments to the permitting process and sustainability. He is already searching for like-minded people to help fulfill his vision.

“We’re starting to interview people, we’re taking resumes from some people who are interested. We’re interested in putting the best people in the best positions, making sure that we have the right people in the right places in the business.”

Roth wants to get more feedback from everyday people, cutting through regimented government systems.

“I look forward to going out there and talking to various people in all different levels of the county government within the next month.”

Roth also plans to use his experiences to help reduce crime by taking a proactive approach.

“One of the things I’ve learned through my career as a prosecutor is that crime just doesn’t happen. There’s routes to crime, and the biggest routes to crime we know of are things like adverse childhood experiences,” Roth explained.

He said he wants to create programs to help at-risk youth.

Roth received a congratulatory email from Mayor Harry Kim and plans to meet with him soon.

“I definitely want to spend some time talking to him. And I think he’s got a lot of information that he wants to share. And there’s a lot of stuff I’d like to know,” said Roth.

Mayor Kim said he doesn’t have advice for Roth, but added that COVID-19 should be at the top of his to-do list.

“I guarantee our first meeting, whenever he chooses to have it, will be talking about where we are on that, where all the programs are, who’s doing what, etc. And eventually all of the other things just to bring him up to par on what’s going on,” said Kim.

Kim’s last day in the office is in roughly two months. After nearly 50 years of public service, he said he does plan to take some time off to relax. After that, he said, he will find something new to focus his attention on. When asked what he plans to do, he said he’s not exactly sure yet.

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