Making Waves: A tale of two candidates

It’s shaping up to be a real Big Island-style election for mayor, the little guy versus the big guy, a David and Goliath kinda thing.

On one side of the field is Ikaika Marzo whose claim to fame is that he took it on himself to save the volcano refugees. He set up a place of refuge in Pahoa where all could come for food and rest as Fissure 8 exploded around them.


This made him a hero in the neighborhood and a local legend.

The legend began when he drove around Leilani Estates like a modern Paul Revere waking up people shouting, “The volcano’s erupting! The volcano’s erupting!” This helped fellow residents escape the lava in time. It was the famous ride of Marzo. He saved peoples’ lives and property, and even their pets.

It shows he has the one quality lacking in most politicians, who spout empty platitudes, and that is care. Marzo has no platitudes to offer, he just really cares about the community and has shown it with his amazing aloha. Folks, remember this when you vote.

How else could an unknown Pahoa boy beat out staunch, long-timer Harry Kim and 12 other candidates? People on this island vote from the heart and so Marzo now stands across the field from the Goliath candidate, Mitch Roth.

You can view Marzo on his political posters, smiling in his aloha shirt ready to be mayor. He’s the picture of hang loose. His qualification is having plenty aloha, and that just might get him elected.

So what about his formidable opponent Roth? His claim to fame is about 40 claims to fame as a rough tough prosecutor for 13 years.

He’s the family man, straight guy, “man who would be mayor,” ready to go on day one.

He belongs to about 20 civic organizations and knows every county employee. They give him the shaka and thumbs up as he walks into work, “You da man!” they say.

To many people he’s already won. His name’s on the little name tag on the mayor’s desk, at least in his mind. You might say he was born to succeed Harry Kim.

With a big smile on his face, his wife by his side, he is George Bailey, Father Knows Best, Ozzie of Ozzie and Harriet waiting to walk through the mayor’s door.

He’s got it all and he’s ready to win, but maybe not.

Sometimes the little guy snatches the prize from under the big guy’s nose. It’s happened before, the “Wednesday Surprise” when you wake up to see that the wrong guy won. But many times the wrong guy turns out to be the right guy. Not always as we’ve seen, sometimes a real dud gets in, but if hometown boy Marzo wins, he might be a hero again, for our whole island.

These are just images. Marzo and Roth are real human beings, both qualified, but in the end we vote for images and nothing more than feelings?

These two worthy opponents are so different, the young, idealistic Marzo versus the older, experienced Roth. Either one would be a good mayor, or a great one.


Who’s it gonna be? As we say here, up to you.

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