Inauguration Ceremony

Video by David Corrigan, Voice of Stephanie Salazar

HILO, Hawaii: Months of campaigning culminated in this moment at the Afook Chinen Civic Auditorium. Hawaii County welcomed Mayor Billy Kenoi back for another four years, during these Inaugural Ceremonies.

After being sworn in by Third Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura, Kenoi spoke to the crowd.

There will be some management changes this term. Taking Bill Takaba’s place as Managing Director will be Wally Lau. For the first time, the position will be run from the Kona side of the island.

The crowd cheered the new County Prosecuting attorney, Mitch Roth. Hilo councilman J Yoshimoto also took to the podium, as the new council chair.

An almost entirely new council stood by his side. Of the nine member governing body, only three incumbents are returning. The rest are all new faces, and many are very young compared to their predecessors.

After a joyous celebration that included the Kamehameha School Choir Glee, the crowd rushed to adorn their favorite new officials with leis… for some, the floral gifts piled high… as hugs and handshakes filled the building.

A few hours later, the new council convened at the Downtown Hilo county building. A new clerk took his place behind the desk: Stewart Maeda, a 17-year veteran with the State Department of Human Services.

Before the council could go through its procedures for organization, the mayor served as council chair pro-tem…. a spot that the mayor has only occupied once before, for a matter of minutes.