Big Island Polls

Poll results: Affordable housing, high cost of living top issues for readers in 2024 race for Hawai‘i County mayor

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The Big Island will vote later this year for who will lead it for the next four years.

So far, two candidates have officially announced bids to be elected Hawai’i County mayor in November — incumbent Mitch Roth, who was elected in 2020 for his first term, and former Bay Clinic Chief Executive Officer Kimo Alameda.

There also could be more hopefuls to join the race, as candidate filing for the 2024 election starts Feb. 1.

Both candidates already laid out their campaign priorities and bona fides in their announcements, including affordable housing, climate change, public safety, parks and recreation, among others.

Big Island Now in its most recent poll asked readers what they think should be the focus of the 2024 mayoral race. While no choice received a majority of votes, the top two captured 42% of the total 844 votes.


Readers chose affordable housing, which got 182 votes, or 21%, and the high cost of living on the island, garnering 174 votes, or 20%, to top the list.

Voters who commented on the poll and social media added homelessness, which would have been in the other category, getting 6% of the vote.

“Along with affordable housing, the homeless problem in Hilo and Kona need to be addressed and dealt with, not dreamed about or imagined,” said commenter David.

Another reader, John, agreed, saying homelessness is the No. 1 problem the island faces.


Bett Bidleman said all of the issues the poll included are important and that candidates in this year’s race for mayor should address each one, explaining what they will do specifically to tackle them if elected.

“To increase affordable housing, what will they do to speed up the process and where will they relocate homeless in the meantime? Re: public safety, what immediate steps will they take to put the most vulnerable homeless — families, women and children — into safe shelters?” asked Bidleman. “Re: wildfire prevention, what County legislation will they promote immediately, along with effective enforcement, such as keeping mowed all highly flammable, invasive grass on all county properties and replacing invasives where possible with native plants appropriate to that location?”

Nicky Brockman and Patrick Dufer were short and to the point with their comments on Facebook, saying the lack of road maintenance and infrastructure, respectively, on the Big Island are their main issues.

Poll commenter John Fraser brought the Thirty Meter Telescope project into the conversation.


“Roth is pro-TMT, which is still the overriding issue for me because it shows that he is not superstitious, regards science as something vital and good for the local economy,” said Fraser. “I can’t find anything about Alameda and TMT. Does anyone know?”

Here are the full poll results:

  • Affordable housing: 182 (21%).
  • High cost of living: 174 (20%).
  • Infrastructure (i.e. roads, bridges, etc.): 131 (15%).
  • Diversifying the County’s economy: 95 (11%).
  • Other: 57 (6%).
  • Utility infrastructure (i.e. wastewater treatment, water systems, etc.): 51 (6%).
  • Wildfire prevention, preparedness, mitigation and response: 43 (5%).
  • Climate change and clean energy: 42 (4%).
  • Public safety: 42 (4%).
  • Parks and recreation: 27 (3%).

Total votes: 844.

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