Hawaii Island’s three-term Mayor Harry Kim says aloha

Local News

Parts 1 and 2 of Howard’s interview with Mayor Harry Kim

HILO, Hawaii (KHON2) — Two photos of Harry Kim represent the bookends of his career as Mayor of Hawaii County; his first day on the job after winning the election in 2000 and this week as he prepares to say goodbye to a job that he says he never truly aspired to have.

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“I didn’t want to be mayor,” said the now 81-year-old Harry Kim. “I had planned my retirement, I was supposed to go work for the state department right after that which I did. But then I decided to run for Mayor just to shut them up really.”

That first term came after serving 16 years as the head of the County of Hawaii Civil Defense, where he led the island through numerous challenges, both man-made and natural disasters.

In 2004 he ran for a second term, easily winning reelection.

“I came back with the same pressure, same people and I was selected the same way.  I like it that way,” Kim said. “It’s a job, I know I’m a politician, but it’s just a job.”

A job maybe, but one he served with great passion. Four years later in 2012, he says was pressured to run again, a race he eventually lost to Billy Kenoi by a mere 1,438 votes.

Then when Kenoi fell from grace — the result of an ethics investigation into the misuse of a county-issued purchasing card — Kim says he chose to run again on a campaign to restore trust in government.

“I want people to trust their government, to feel good about their government”.  

He says he will always be proud for the way he ran his office of behalf of the people he served.

“I think people trust because i gave them nothing not to trust truthfully. I look back all these years Howard and I will tell you the staff, we talk about it all the time. There’s nothing we need to look behind our shoulders as far as doing something it was not illegal not even a hint of that.”

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