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As he grapples with COVID-19 response, Mayor Harry Kim announces re-election bid

Updated: Apr. 28, 2020 at 12:41 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Big Island Mayor Harry Kim says he’s planning to run for re-election.

It will be his fifth run for mayor. Kim previously served two terms before taking a break and then returning.

Kim, 80, kicks off his re-election bid amid criticism over his leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some contend he was too slow to institute restrictions and preventing the spread of the virus.

The Big Island has 70 confirmed cases of coronavirus.

Kim’s reputation was also battered amid the Thirty Meter Telescope protest at Mauna Kea, and the 2018 Kilauea eruption, which destroyed hundreds of homes and whole communities.

He also has his ardent supporters who point to his long record of public service.

In an interview with Hawaii News Now on Monday, Kim said he’s proud of his work to lead during disaster and tackle the island’s homeless crisis. He acknowledged that he has unfinished business with the pandemic and Mauna Kea.

“This is something I feel I should do,” he said. “This is something I feel, truthfully, I want to do.”

“I will carry my campaign in the same way that I always have done in all my years working for the county. It’ll be no politics in regards to decision making and I think my work shows that,” he added.

Kim also welcomed others to join the mayoral race, and said he wouldn’t accept donations of more than $10.

“He’s one of the hardest working people around,” said Director of UH’s Public Policy Center and HNN political analyst Colin Moore.

“I think he probably has a pretty strong shot of getting reelected, but I’m sure his age and his health are going to be the real issues that cause voters to question whether or not he should do it again for another four years,” he added.

Kim has suffered heart attacks.

Moore says several people have lined up for the mayor’s race including a strong competitor, Hawaii County Prosecutor Mitch Roth.

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