For the first time in 12 years, Hawaii County will soon have a new mayor. The two candidates vying to take the job, Mitch Roth and Ikaika Marzo, took part in a live discussion on Spotlight Hawaii this morning.
Roth finished first in the primary election with 31% of the vote. He said he has the knowledge and experience to hit the ground running.
“I love this island and I love the people. And we have a lot of problems in our country and we need to have need some real change,” Roth said. “We need to have quality jobs, affordable housing, and someone that really knows how government works and how to make real changes in government and I think I am that person.”
Since 2012, Roth has been serving as the Hawaii county prosecuting attorney. During his time as prosecutor, he started a Restorative Justice Program within the prosecutor’s office, the first of its kind in the nation, and re-opened the Peter Boy Kema cold case that ultimately led to both parents pleading guilty to manslaughter.
Roth’s opponent, Marzo garnered 21% of the vote. The political newcomer is a small business owner and community activist who built a large following on social media after spearheading relief efforts during the 2018 Kilauea eruption and establishing the Puuhonua o Puna relief center.
“I’m from here. My roots extend deeply into this soil, into this aina. My ancestors are buried here and I just want the best for our community,” Marzo said.
The candidates took questions on the county’s response to the coronavirus, economic and food sustainability, waste management, increasing rural access to medical care, and the Thirty Meter Telescope project. Both spoke well of each other, even going as far as to say that they would each consider hiring the other in their respective administrations.
“Ikaika and I are actually friends and the way we’ve run our campaigns has been very respectful, and it really should be a model for the rest of our country. Because as the country is being torn apart, we’ve been able to find common ground,” Roth said.
“Me and Mitch, we just want the best for our people in Hawaii Island. That’s all.”
Spotlight Hawaii, which shines a light on issues affecting Hawaii, airs live 10:30 a.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday on the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Facebook page. Join Ryan Kalei Tsuji and Yunji de Nies this month for a conversation with guests. Click here to watch previous conversations.