(BIVN) – Hawai’i County Mayor Harry Kim spoke up before withdrawing his nomination to the Fire Commission last week.
Kim testified on Tuesday, August 18, during a meeting of the Hawaiʻi County Council Committee on Public Safety. The council was about to consider a vote on Kim’s appointment of Scott Collins to the county fire commission. However, Kim decided to withdraw his nominee after a letter from Fire Chief Darren Rosario raised concerns over Collins’ current employment as the Hawaii Island Chief of the Hawaii Government Employees Association.
Chief Rosario noted that the HGEA endorsed Mayor Kim in his recent campaign for reelection. He also noted that Collins would be in the position to help choose the next fire chief, and that the eligible candidates for the position might include Mayor Kim’ son, fire captain Garrett Kim. Rosario thought it might lead to a perception of a conflict of interest.
Mayor Kim sat down before the council to address the situation, saying that he felt frustrated and offended. “I want to tell you why this letter offends the heck out of me,” the mayor said.
Kim’s testimony meandered to recent difficulties he has experienced trying to work under the political climate of a primary election season. As an example, the mayor spoke about the near-resignation of executive assistant Rose Bautista. The mayor, desperate for Bautista’s valuable outreach to the Micronesian community during the COVID-19 pandemic, said he didn’t care if her family was in support of another candidate for mayor. “To heck with perception,” Mayor Kim said . “I need her and I told her so. I took her resignation, and threw it away. I said, ‘rejected’. I need you to help me.”
Mayor Kim also talked briefly about how he stopped recording the daily civil defense radio message after complaints of fair time for the other candidates who did not have the same broadcasting platform. “I stopped immediately,” Kim said, “not to take away the credibility of the civil defense mission.”
“I’m told that even members of the council were looking ways to get me away from being in for civil defense because of perception of unfairness and using that agency,” Kim added.
Mayor Kim did not win reelection in the August primary. “I can say things openly now, because the election is over,” Kim said, who prior to this was being “very careful,” he added.
“I’m trying to tell you that everything I breathe is to keep my place to you and the people of this island of a politics they can trust,” Mayor Kim said, turning back to the Chief Rosario’s letter. “To even insinuate these things ticks me off.”
“The anger is because of a lifetime of keeping my family out of it, and hopefully being very successful in it,” Kim concluded, before pulling the nomination off the table. “To have this kind of letter taint perception is offensive. I have never violated my commitment to you as a council and the people of this island. Never,” he said.