Kim a disasterHILO -- Saturday, the work begins, says Hawaii County mayor-elect Harry Kim.
for Big Isle
The immense popularity of
the Civil Defense chief carries
him to victory in the
By Rod Thompson
That's when Kim starts selecting key personnel to help form a Cabinet for his administration.
Until then, he's going to take some time off.
With 50 percent of the vote, Kim swept past Democrat Fred Holschuh's 30 percent and Green Party candidate Keiko Bonk's 20 percent last night to become the Big Island's new mayor. He takes office Dec. 4.
"He was just too popular," said Bonk. "I ran the best issues campaign I could."
Holschuh said he just couldn't beat Kim's "mystique."
"I told Diane (Holschuh's wife) 14 months ago there was only one person in this whole state that I would be fearful of running against, and that was Harry Kim.
"I lost this race because I'm running against a demigod," Holschuh said. For example, Holschuh heard people say Kim kept hurricanes away from the Big island for 25 years.
He heard someone calling a radio station saying if Kim had been at his old Civil Defense job during last week's downpour, there would have been no flooding.
"How do you run against that mystique?" Holschuh asked.
Kim called such inflated trust in him "ludicrous."
"It's scary that people believe that," he said.
He laughed and said people who think he can stop hurricanes should tell him how to spread that power around the world. "I could save thousands of lives," he joked.
As absurd as such ideas are, they point out the view that Kim is a man of action who gets things done. Being mayor will call for a different kind of skill, the thoughtful formulation of policy to reach long-term goals.
Kim said people don't realize that 99 percent of his Civil Defense job involved doing just that. Only 1 percent of his time was spent on disasters, he said.
Preparedness allows for quick recovery from disasters, he said. Except for a washed-out culvert which cut a key Hilo street, most of Hilo has returned to normal following last week's rains.
In some places, recovery can take a year, he said. Before he started campaigning, Kim was called to Honduras to help set up and emergency response system there.
He also cited months of work with numerous public agencies and private businesses ensuring that no problems would occur with the arrival of the year 2000.
When Kim retired from Civil Defense on June 30, he told his brother-in-law that he felt like 500 pounds had been lifted from his shoulders. Then Kim said he was thinking about running for mayor. His brother-in-law asked him why he wanted to put 1,000 pounds back onto his shoulders.
On Saturday, the weight falls. Kim will meet then with one or two key people, he said. Whether they will become part of his Cabinet or simply be advisers is uncertain, he said. He didn't name them. He will not do as his Republican predecessor Bernard Akana did and use a "blue ribbon" panel to select department heads.
Such a panel can review only a job applicant's paper qualifications, Kim said. He wants more.
"What you're looking for is a certain kind of character traits, certain attitudes and values," he said.
He'll say, "Give me your ideas on the responsibility of government. Give me your ideas on what you're not happy with in government, on what you are happy with."
Bonk said she will be watching Kim's performance. "Now he has to prove to the people that he can be a good leader," she said.
"Good!" was Kim's reply. "The most important thing is involvement of the public. Let your government officials know you're watchdogging them," he said.
During the campaign, Kim and Holschuh were subjected to vicious rumors.
Holschuh became so frustrated that he took out a large advertisement responding to them. One rumor said he hastened the death of his mother, dying of cancer, by denying her food and water.
Holschuh said the truth was he stopped intravenous feeding when his mother told him to do so.
Despite similar rumors against Kim, he said the campaign also revealed people's warmth and aloha
"I am the most blessed person in the world," he said. "This campaign has let me know how lucky I am."
Balking ballot taker
Almost noDespite seesawing printouts that appeared to give some challengers the lead, election night ended with almost no change on the Hawaii County Council.
changes on Big
On Maui, four newcomers win;
Kauai elects two of three candidates
endorsed by environmental groups
The only seat to change hands was in Lower Puna, where Democrat Gary Safarik beat incumbent Al Smith in the primary election.
Green challenger Steve Hirakami seemed poised to grab the victory from Safarik early in the evening, but Safarik pulled ahead at the end.
Elsewhere, the status quo reigned.
Despite a strong effort, Republican John Santangelo was unable to unseat incumbent Green Julie Jacobson for the Upper Puna-Kau-South Kona seat.
Jacobson remains the only elected Green in the state.
In Waimea, Republican Leningrad Elarionoff held off a double challenge from Democrat Eddie Akana and Green Tanny Cazimero.
In Middle Kona, Democrat Nancy Pisicchio also stopped a challenge from Republican Mary Reynolds.
District 1: Dominic Yagong (D)
Hawaii County Council
District 2: Bobby Jean Leithead-Todd (D)
District 3: James Arakaki (D)
District 4: Aaron Chung (D)
District 5: Gary Safarik (D)
District 6: Julie Jacobson (G)
District 7: Nancy Pisicchio (D)
District 8: Curtis Tyler (R)
District 9: Leningrad Elarionoff (R)
On Maui, the County Council appears headed toward a major reorganization following the election of four new Council members -- three of whom defeated incumbents in a nonpartisan race.
The election leaves Council Chairman Patrick Kawano without three of his former supporters: Michael Davis, Dennis Y. Nakamura and John W. Enriques.
Businessman Alan M. Arakawa, 49, defeated Davis to return to his former Kahului seat, and plans to run again for Maui mayor in 2002.
He ran unsuccessfully as a Republican for mayor against James "Kimo" Apana in 1998.
Kalama Intermediate School teacher Michael Molina defeated Enriques for the Makawao-Haiku-Paia seat.
Molina, 40, lost to Enriques in 1998 but was supported in this election by environmentalists who were upset at Enriques' support of a residential development on the Kahului side of Paia.
Jo Anne Johnson, 53, former executive director of the West Maui Youth Center, upset Nakamura for the West Maui seat in a close election.
Planning Commissioner Robert Carroll, who defeated Nick Nikhilananda, will be filling the East Maui seat vacated by Councilman J. Kalani English, who was elected to the state Senate.
Incumbents Dain Kane, Charmaine Tavares, Riki Hokama, Wayne Nishiki and Kawano were re-elected.
On Kauai, environmental and native Hawaiian groups opposed to development and expansion of the tourism industry won one and lost one in yesterday's County Council election.
Kaipo Asing, one of Mayor Maryanne Kusaka's most strident opponents, who left the Council two years ago in a failed bid to unseat her, finished second out of a field of 14. The top seven vote-getters won seats on the at-large Council, with six incumbents returned to office.
But John Barretto, another former councilman and outspoken critic of pro-development and pro-tourism Kusaka, fell short.
Incumbent Gary Hooser, Kusaka's only critic on the current Council, won a second term.
Environmental groups on Kauai actively campaigned for a Hooser-Asing-Barretto slate.
Unseated was Billy Swain, a freshman member closely allied to Kusaka.
Swain finished only 287 votes behind seventh-place finisher Daryl Kaneshiro.
Reported by Star-Bulletin correspondents
Rod Thompson, Gary T. Kubota and Anthony Sommer.
Family convinced Kim to run for mayorHILO -- When Harry Kim was trying to decide whether to run for Hawaii County mayor after his retirement a few months ago, he met with his brothers and sisters in Kona.
But he didn't decide on running right away. Instead, he drove back to Hilo.
A few days later, he received a lei ordered by his sister Han Sung Barry delivered from a Hilo floral shop. Attached was a card with three words: "Go for it."
"I'm the luckiest man in this world to have the family and friends I have," Kim said last night.
Helicopters bring in Big Isle votesTo get around washed-out roads on the Big Island, ballots, computer cards and poll books from eight precincts arrived at the Hilo counting center by helicopter.
A section of the Belt Highway between Pahala and Hilo is impassable because of last week's flooding. So instead of driving voting materials the long way around the Big Island, the National Guard brought the ballots and computer cards at 10:30 p.m., said County Clerk Al Konishi.
Usually one or two precincts straggle in, he said, so using the helicopter also meant that results from eight precincts all showed up at the same time.
"It was kind of exciting, actually," Konishi said.