Harry Kim is preparing to leave the Big Island mayor’s office. Just don’t say he’s retiring.

Updated: Dec. 2, 2020 at 4:54 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - You haven’t heard the last of Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim.

While Kim’s time in office is coming to an end, the 81-year-old says he’s not preparing to retire. Instead, he’s preparing for his next act.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do, but I tell people I’m going to do something,” Kim said, during a recent interview with Hawaii News Now.

“Because doing nothing is waiting to die and I’m not ready to die yet.”

Kim first won election as the Big Island’s mayor in 2000, after successful stints heading up its civil defense agency. He served two terms and then lost to Billy Kenoi in 2012.

In 2016, after Kenoi’s p-card scandal, Kim ran for mayor again and won.

This past August, Kim lost his re-election bid in the primary. Mitch Roth will take his place.

Kim said he doesn’t have many regrets from his latest term. In fact, he could only think of one: He wished he had done more earlier on to prevent an outbreak at a veterans home in Hilo.

Some 27 residents at the home died after contracting COVID-19.

Before the home opened in 2008, Kim had worked with the late U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye to bring the facility to Hilo.

“We pushed for Hawaii. The veterans did because Sen. Inouye said it should be on the island of Hawaii.”

Kim is proud of his work responding to disasters.

He’s arguably most remembered for his response to multiple lava flows during his time leading civil defense and as mayor. The latest lava disaster in 2018 destroyed 700 homes in Leilani Estates.

“You’ll see that it can be a template for the world on how to respond and plan,” said Kim.

He says during the pandemic Hawaii County got $800 million in CARES Act funding and Kim remains a true believer in the good side of government.

“We cannot forget the good that was done,” said Kim.

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