Hawai`i Island Mayor Billy Kenoi has tapped strong journalists for his staff, which is a plus and a minus for the island and state.
The plus—Mayor Kenoi is surrounding himself with keen minds who will provide critical, savvy counsel. The minus—our state has lost some veteran journalists at a time when the news media is in flux, staffs are being cut and the definition of “journalist” is being reshaped by bloggers.
Kevin Dayton, named Mayor Kenoi’s East Hawai`i exec assistant, was a longtime Honolulu Advertiser reporter who most recently covered the Big Island. He is akamai about the workings of government, both on the county and state level—for a time he was with the Advertiser’s Capitol Bureau. I grew to respect Kevin when we were reporters together at the Advertiser years ago.
Later, when I was communication director at the state Health Department, I found his reporting fair and accurate and continued to find that in his Big Island coverage. Sadly, the statewide newspapers seem to be giving less and less space to Neighbor Islands, so we didn’t read as much from Kevin as we’d have liked.
I don’t personally know Bobby Command, whom Mayor Kenoi has named as his West Hawai`i executive assistant, but I am familiar with his reporting at West Hawaii Today which has shown a strength of character and commitment to Hawai`i.
Then there’s Hunter Bishop, who is the county’s new public information officer. I will miss Bishop’s blogs—some by the way, were critical of Kenoi during the campaign, which speaks to Kenoi’s leadership strength. I don’t always agree with Bishop, but he raised many issues that needed airing through his blog, and during his 17 years at the Hawaii Tribune-Herald.
We wish them well as they sit on the other side of the notebook.
Barbara A. Hastings