It was more than his poise, sense of humor or his intelligence that was on display last night, Panos took the mayors race far beyond conventional local politics. And because of this he was the real winner last night.
Consider this, his campaign started only a couple of months before the primary and was underfunded from the beginning. What he lacked in time was compensated by his concise and powerful message. He set the stage and agenda for the mayors race. What he lacked in financial resources was compensated by his ability to get talented people to stand by him and help him run his campaign. The people I met on his campaign were of the finest caliber, from all walks of life, and from every part of Oahu and beyond. Panos is a study in how to politic without being a politician.
With this election as the starting point, his legacy will begin with notes on how he inspired and motivated people. He was plain speaking and honest about the issues. Issues that were easily confirmed by anyone. All you had to do was take a walk around Honolulu and you understood what he was talking about if not explicitly then most certainly intrinsicly. His credentials qualified him for the huge task before him and his personal attitude was encouraging and positive.
He did not attack his opponents personally even when they attacked him. Nor did he lose his confidence and determination when they tried to ignore and make him go away. His rhetoric although specific also encompassed all the issues. He was not the "single issue" candidate as some have said. He had the innate ability to frame the issues simply and eloquently but more importantly he was able to frame the solutions simply and eloquently as well. If I were to characterize Panos' campaign, I would say it was not about the issues---it was about the solutions.
What were some specifics. He talked about a new technology to process solid waste and put an end to the controversy at Waimanalo Gulch. He proposed a new road mixture to make our roads more durable and less prone to wear and tear. He is a recognized international expert on Mass Transit in Hawaii and his scientific studies and conclusions are sound and realistic. His proposed solution for Mass Transit will reduce the congestion on the leeward side and offer viable alternatives. The solution list is long and it impressed me and I'm sure many others.
He also impressed upon us the idea or concept of "Sustainability" and "Stewardship". His vision of sustainability was expressed over and over. As I said it was the solutions that characterized his campaign. If you heard his solutions, the theme of sustainability was ever present. His proposals were so far reaching in that it would set Honolulu on a course of being the most technologically advanced city in America. His idea of creating the "International Hawaii Environmental Super Prize"and offering $1 million for significant innovation that solves environmental issues taps into the ingenuity and strength our our community. The best ideas come from people and Panos knows that and he has developed a unique plan to tap into this strength.
These high minded thoughts, ideas and solutions take a lot of money to make it a reality and Panos has addressed this as well. He understands stewardship or more specifically being a steward of OPM (pronounced: Opium but means Other Peoples Money). He understands that debt limits need to be set. A novel idea in politics. Keeping tax money where it belongs and will do the most good---in the hands of its citizens. Another novel idea in politics. The concept of "fiscal discipline" and reasonable property taxes. Ideas that don't exist in Hawaii politics. Its been a long time since anyone has brought this to the forefront and offers stewardship as a fundamental principle in Oahus fiscal environment.
Panos was the Winner last night. Not of the Mayors seat but the Winner in the battle over ideas and Oahu's future. Both Mufi and Ann will now have to finish the battle for the Mayors seat in the arena that Panos built. In the very near future I hope Panos will once again enter that arena and bring with him the principles and fundamentals that cannot be broken.
Mahalo Panos, it has been a pleasure and honor to be a part of your campaign.
(A proud sign waver of the Panos Campaign for Mayor in 2008 and beyond)