Harry Kim clinches majority to win Big Island mayoral seat outright

Harry Kim clinches majority to win Big Island mayoral seat outright
Mayoral candidate Wally Lau (Image: Hawaii News Now)
Mayoral candidate Wally Lau (Image: Hawaii News Now)

HILO, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - Former Big Island Mayor Harry Kim won a majority in Saturday's primary to re-claim his old seat.

Kim, 76, beat out a crowded field of contenders in the Big Island mayoral race.

His toughest competition came from Wally Lau, Hawaii County's managing director. But by the end of the night, Kim had a considerable lead over Lau.

"I'm feeling good, excited, gratitude to all the people who worked" on the campaign, Kim told Hawaii News Now earlier in the night, before he won outright. "For now, I'm drinking it in."

Meanwhile, after early results, Lau said he remained optimistic, though he had significant ground to make up.

"I'm very positive," he said. "I've felt a lot of positive energy, and momentum was moving."

Lau has said he was running for office to "listen to our community, be fair and get things done."

Meanwhile, Kim announced in March that he would be running for Big Island mayor, and pledged to campaign on a platform of public trust. "I promise to do everything right by law," he told Hawaii News Now earlier this year. "And where there are no laws, a sense of what is right."

In campaigning for the seat, the former mayor hasn't directly mentioned current Hawaii Island mayor Billy Kenoi, who is embroiled in a spending scandal.

Kenoi has served two consecutive terms and cannot run for the office.

But Kim has said that Hawaii Island residents' "trust in government" has been shaken.

Kim is well-respected on Hawaii Island, where he's something of an icon. He served as the Big Island's mayor from 2000 to 2008, and was also the county's longtime civil defense director.

Kim actually gave Kenoi a strong challenge in the mayor's race four years ago, when Kenoi's political star was still rising. This time around, Kim's name recognition helped him shoot ahead of 12 others running for the seat.

Copyright 2016 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.