Making Waves: They’re off and running

The Hawaii County race for mayor is on, and 15 contestants are chomping at the bit to win.

There are a few young “phillies” and some old horses that have been around the track a few times. A couple are ready for the glue factory, just kidding.


To help you place your bets or ballots, here is some more information on the candidates. It is from a recent mayor’s forum put on by Honolulu Civil Beat.

Here is, their age, occupation and where they live, a few meaningful words of theirs, and the all-important question of where they stand on the TMT. Here we go:

First up is Ted Shaneyfelt. Ted is 56 years old, and lives on the Hilo side. He is pro TMT. He says, “We might offer California’s solution to the homeless problem and provide hotel rooms for homeless people.” Great idea Ted, should go over big here.

Next is Neil Azevedo, 51, and lives in Hilo. He is our island’s chief officer of public works. Neil is no on TMT. About the budget he says, “By cutting services we cut people out which is what we don’t want to do. I’ll look for areas where we can make adjustments.” His slogan is,“Keep it real, vote for Neil.” Pretty good.

Paul Bryant, 75, is a writer and farmer from Laupahoehoe. A yes on TMT, and says “Thinking outside the box is a valuable resource, regardless of how outlandish any idea might seem.” A free thinker.

Next is the unstoppable Kelly Greenwell from Kona. Kelly is an agriculturalist. He called the TMT “The Hokulea of the Heavens,” and “the spark of the new beginning of our new economy. “ I think that’s a yes. He said,“all opportunities come from problems.”

Then comes Stacy Higa, 57, from Hilo. He’s the president of Na Leo TV. That gives him managerial skills. He’s a big yes on TMT. He tells the Hawaiians protesters, “We are a land of laws, not men. If the protesters don’t like the laws they need to … reform them.”

Next is, Yumi Kawano 59, a forest conservationist living in Volcano. A no on TMT. She is so serious about the environment, when she is mayor she said, “If damage occurs all building and homes will be taken off the shoreline.” I hope she asks us first.

Then, there’s Bob Fitzgerald, 67, a sales manager for Hilton Grand Vacations from Kona. He said, “I would have kept Airbnbs open for local use, a quarantine was not in effect for island residents.” Very sensible, Bob.

Moving along to Mike Ruggles, 63, a retired cement mason living in Volcano. He’s a no on the TMT. He would, “spend the money others would spend on tourism and invest it in agriculture and small businesses”

Then up comes Mitch Roth, the ever smiling prosecutor. He’s 56 and lives in Hilo. A big yes on TMT. His quote, “If all you have in your toolbox is a hammer, all your problems are nails.” Meaning, don’t limit yourself.

Then our ever-faithful Harry Kim, 81, current mayor of Hawaii County. Goes with both sides on TMT. We give Harry a break. He says, “man-made disasters are always a threat.”

A candidate from Puna, Lahi Verchurr, 52, is a no on TMT. She says, “I will raise awareness of Hawaii being occupied.” A real protester.

Then comes businessman Tante Urban, 69, the only one from Kailua-Kona. He says, “to balance the budget I will cut from the top down. The line workers need to keep working to provide for their families.” Tante has a heart.

Showing up again is Wendell Kaehuaea from Hilo. He never gives up, “most people just talk, but I’m all action.” me to Ikaika Marzo, 36, hero of Puna, helper of volcano victims. His view, “Our people have a relationship with Maunakea, cultural and scientific.” A real politician.

On July 30, 2018, he said he wanted to bring in a Ferris wheel so people could go up and view the volcano going off. He’d make a real fun mayor.

Mikey Glendon, a 38-year-old from Keaau, is also running.


There they are, folks, place your bets.

Dennis Gregory writes a bi-weekly column for West Hawaii Today and welcomes yiur comments at