Yagong announces mayoral candidacy

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Dominic Yagong and family in their Honokaa home making the announcement together for his candidacy for Mayor. Front row: Councilman Dominic Yagong, wife Hilda, granddaughter Jayda. Back row: Angellee, Jeremy, his mother Virginia, Rylee and Chelsea.

Dominic Yagong and family in their Honokaa home making the announcement together for his candidacy for Mayor. Front row: Councilman Dominic Yagong, wife Hilda, granddaughter Jayda. Back row: Angellee, Jeremy, his mother Virginia, Rylee and Chelsea.

Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7 Editor

Dominic Yagong has announced his intention to run for mayor in this year’s election.

Mayor Billy Kenoi, 43, is nearing the end of his first term and although he has not announced his plans, he is widely expected to run for re-election. Also, former mayor Harry Kim, 72, perviously has said he may jump into the race, but has made no formal announcement.

Yagong, who first was elected to the council in 1996 and has served a total of six terms on the council, said he consulted with his family and close friends before making the decision.

“We made the decision to pull the trigger just recently,” he said, Saturday morning at his family home in Honokaa.

He said he had been considering a second run for the mayor’s seat for about two years. At that time, the council and the mayor was struggling with the budget severely impacted by the economic downturn.

That coincided with a council shuffle that ended Yagong’s time as Finance Committee chairman.

Yagong, 52, noted that during his 12 years on the council he has served as chairman of ‘just about every committee’ and currently is the council chairman.

He served on the County Council from 1996-2002, where he served as chairman of the Public Works and Parks Committee and chairman of the Environmental Management Committee.

In 2004, he was unsuccessful in an attempt to unseat incumbent Mayor Harry Kim. He announced his candidacy just eight weeks before the primary and had limited funding at his disposal.

He returned to the County Council in 2006 and was re-elected in 2008 and 2010.

During Saturday’s announcement, Yagong also said he was grateful for the support of his family and North Hawaii constituents.

As mayor, Yagong said he will look to steer the county in a different direction, specifically mentioning that he would seek public-private partnership to supplement county programs

“When you take a look at where we are, we’re going through probably the most difficult economic times that we’ve ever gone through,” he said. “I truly believe that right now in history of Hawaii County, I believe I’m the right man at the right time and in order for us to move in the direction that we need to go that we do need to have a change in leadership.”

He noted that taxpayers are not happy with the way state and federal governments are being run and that Hawaii County needs to look for reforms and transparency to restore faith in government

“We’re going to have to stop doing the things they way we’ve always done it,” he said. “We’re kind of stuck in a rut and we need to get out of that. You need to have someone who is willing to go against the grain.”

Yagong said he will bring an independent spirit to the county’s top spot.

“I have a lot of institutional knowledge. I bring a very independent view to how things need to be done,” he said. “My experience on county council brings a very good thing to the table. Certainly there is no book that tells you how to do it.”

He pointed to the expense of operating county government and union contracts.

“We as a county are unionized. We’ve got to have courage and the guts to stand up and try to make things to a point where we make decisions that will benefit the people. That fortitude is not easy,” he said. “That also means being able to represent the taxpayer at the collective bargaining table.”

Yagong said his campaign will be driven by island residents.

“I really want to make this a grassroots campaign,” he said.

According to the latest campaign finance reports, which date to July 1, Kenoi had a balance of $33,525, while Yagong had nothing. The next state Campaign Spending Commission deadline is Jan. 31.

Yagong currently is employed by Food Pantry Ltd. as district manager overseeing 12 business operations in Oceanview, Pahoa, Waikoloa, South Kohala, and North and South Kona. He plans to resign to concentrate on his campaign.

A Big Island sports enthusiast, he is known as the “Voice of the Honokaa Dragons” broadcasting sporting events for more than 20 years.

Born and raised in Honokaa, he still lives in the town with wife Hilda, children Chelsea, Jeremy, Rylee and Angellee and granddaughter, Jada.

The primary election is Aug. 11, 2012. The candidate filing filing period runs Wednesday, Feb. 1 through Tuesday, June 5.

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One Response to “Yagong announces mayoral candidacy”

  1. paniolo says:

    Wonderful news. Dominic “gets it”. He is a businessman. He understands the Big Island and its cultures. He has not been afraid to challenge the stays quo. It will be tough though. The power brokers will not want anyone to challenge their ingrained way of doing business. Good luck Dominick


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