Wednesday, December 26, 2001

Big Isle Mayor Kim
happy with term so far

His only regret is that he didn't consult
with the Council more often

Associated Press

HILO >> After one year in office, Big Island Mayor Harry Kim said he has no regrets he ended his short-lived retirement to enter politics.

Kim retired in July 2000 after a 24-year career as county civil defense administrator, and soon began a successful campaign for mayor.

He said he had "a real good handle" of what to expect because of his years of government service. But he said what he didn't expect is that so many people would want to meet with him.

Among them were Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris, a Democrat, and Hawaii Republican Party chairwoman Linda Lingle, the presumed leading contenders in next year's gubernatorial election.

He said both sought his endorsement, but he told them he will not get involved in the governor's race. Both apparently got the message because neither has bothered to come back, he said.

Kim said in an interview with the Hawaii Tribune-Herald that his first year has been a mixture of successes and mistakes.

He said his main accomplishment was making progress toward getting public trust in county government.

He said he regrets not consulting with the County Council before acting on several issues.

He also said he wishes he had developed a better understanding of the county's budget picture soon after taking office, which he said would have allowed him to trim the multimillion-dollar deficit he now faces.

"I wish I had spent more time really scrutinizing the budget so I'm not in the big trouble I'm in now," Kim said.

During the campaign, Kim said the island's biggest social problems are drug use, domestic abuse and infrastructure shortages. More than a year later, he says those problems are worse than he anticipated.

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