Billy Kenoi needs you to know that something is feasible.
Even when issues look actually unhealthy proper now.
He speaks from first-hand expertise.
The previous Hawaii County mayor’s speech to the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii on Nov. 6 generated fairly a bit of pleasure. This was not a “put on a masks, wash your palms, we’ll get by this” recitation. It was an inspiring sermon, a reminder to everybody in Hawaii that we’ve gotten by laborious occasions earlier than and we are going to once more.
The virtual speech, recorded from Kenoi’s home in Volcano, was streamed to the occasion attendees and was, by many accounts, one of the best pandemic pep discuss they’ve heard.
“Right here in Hawaii, our kuleana is our kuleana. Our values, our existence on an island group 2,500 miles from anyplace else on the earth, is our power. All now we have to do is look to one another for the options to the challenges we’re going through.
“After we give it some thought, we don’t have to ship our capital offshore. We don’t have to spend our cash on-line. What we do have to do is to take care and put money into our associates, our households, our neighbors and our group,” Kenoi mentioned.
It’s laborious to place a finger on why it was such an incredible speech. What he mentioned wasn’t something new. He has at all times talked about hope and grit and pulling collectively. It was the best way he mentioned it. It was how he regarded.
What’s ever-present however unstated in Kenoi’s 12-minute video is the situation of his well being. It’s the underlying theme that offers credence to his message of resilience. He’s proof that something is feasible.
Kenoi, who served as Hawaii County mayor from 2008 to 2016, was identified with a rare blood cancer, myelofibrosis, in 2015. During the last 5 years, he went by a bone marrow transplant, organ collapse, a 17-day coma and too many problems to rely. His household was advised a number of occasions that he was going to die, however every time, he rallied.
At one level, in 2018, the Hawaii island group gathered by the tons of in Hilo and Kona and on-line in a large prayer effort for his therapeutic as he lay near demise in a California hospital. Kenoi says that was the second he turned the nook.
“There isn’t any medical purpose for me to be alive proper now,” Kenoi mentioned in a cellphone interview final week. He describes his present standing as, “I stay daily.”
Kenoi didn’t discuss any of that in his speech. It was simply there within the background, a testomony to what’s attainable, whether or not his viewers knew the entire story or not. He didn’t point out the oxygen tube connected to his nostril. He seems totally different after his ordeal, however he seems energetic. His expertise as an orator and his capability to suppose on his toes are as sharp as ever.
He additionally didn’t point out his courtroom battle in 2016, through which he triumphed over fees of theft stemming from admittedly sloppy accounting and mixing private funds with a county bank card. His acquittal was a vindication, however he doesn’t need to discuss that.
What he did discuss was Hawaii’s kids.
“You must at all times discover the problem that every one individuals agree on,” Kenoi mentioned. “It’s at all times in regards to the youngsters. There’s no Anti-Keiki Coalition. There’s no Towards Ohana League. All the things connects to what all of us can agree on.”
Kenoi argued in his speech that wholesome companies are the spine of wholesome households.
“Companies can’t be vilified and villainized as a bunch of grasping guys attempting to earn money. That’s how we dress our children. That’s how we ship them to varsity. Wholesome companies imply wholesome households.”
He talked in regards to the recession of the late 2000s and the way dire these days appeared, and the way the group labored collectively to return out stronger on the opposite aspect.
“Right here in Hawaii, our kuleana is our kuleana. Our values, our existence on an island group 2,500 miles from anyplace else on the earth, is our power. All now we have to do is look to one another for the options to the challenges we’re going through.” — Billy Kenoi
Kenoi was requested by Sherry Menor-McNamara, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii and his good friend from highschool days at Waiakea, to offer the opening speech on the annual occasion.
“I used to be so nervous,” he mentioned.
He thought he might get by a 10-minute speech with out the oxygen tube however then determined in opposition to it. “You must at all times be genuine,” he mentioned. So he saved the tube and gave a speech that transcended the distraction.
A few of Kenoi’s previous speeches, his “biggest hits,” are posted on YouTube and are thrilling to look at, like when he made an entire room of tourism leaders laugh at themselves for “rebranding aloha” or when he told a gathering of Hawaiian men the meaning of his middle name. His graduation speech to Hawaii Pacific University in 2014 is a basic. If you happen to haven’t seen these speeches, do your self a favor and watch them now. There isn’t any one who can do what he can do. Nonetheless.
Kenoi says he’s engaged on “little tasks to maintain my mind going,” like updating a basic Seventies handbook on tips on how to run a political marketing campaign in Hawaii that he recommends to each political hopeful who involves him for recommendation.
This summer season, he was a panelist for a policy discussion sponsored by the Daniel K. Inouye Institute. He loves speaking politics, however says his focus is solely on his spouse and three kids, who are actually of their 20s.
He has no plans to run for workplace. He’s, nevertheless, prepared to assist when he’s requested, like when Menor-McNamara requested if he might give a speech about hope.
“Everyone is scared,” Kenoi mentioned. “I thought of what I might say to assist individuals be much less scared.”