As an expatriate Texan, I’ve been told that while most of us translate the word “Mahalo” as “thank you” the most appropriate and reverent interpretation from Hawaiian to English is in fact, “thank you for making me a part of your spirit.” As I reflect on the results of the Primary Election, I cannot refrain from saying to that bold, eccentric, and ultimately courageous engineer named Panos Prevedouros, “Mahalo.”
In the Bible’s book of Isaiah, a passage reads, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” I consider myself so blessed to have seen a man like Panos arise in our community. It took courage for Panos to say from the very beginning that a multi-billion dollar rail system for Honolulu was ill-advised. It took courage for Panos to sit on the Mayor’s technology selection panel and to be the lone dissenting vote. It took courage for Panos – an engineer with no political experience – to listen to his friends and accept their request to run for mayor. And it took courage for Panos invest so much of his life over these last few months, and stand before the television cameras, the bright lights, the supporters and the media alike, and say, “The people have spoken.”
Panos did not win the office of Honolulu Mayor, but for the 28,782 people who voted for him, he will always be the incumbent mayor of our hearts, and he will always be our friend. I believe that the words of a song by Celine Dion captures why so many Honolulu voters chose Panos in this election:
“You were my strength when I was weak
You were my voice when I couldn’t speak
You were my eyes when I couldn’t see
You saw the best there was in me
lifted me up when I couldn’t reach
you gave me faith cause you believed
I’m everything I am
because you loved me.”
Panos is a man who ran, quite simply, because he loves Honolulu. Do not think of this election as a defeat, because love never fails. To Panos, his family, and all his supporters, I say to them that which the angel of God said to Gideon when confronted with the task of being the weakest man yet being called to save his entire community: “Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save”. Richard Nixon said, “we think that when we lose an election, we think that when we suffer a defeat that all is ended … not true. It’s only a beginning, always … because the greatness comes not when things go always good for you, but the greatness comes when you are really tested, when you take some knocks, some disappointments, when sadness comes, because only if you have been in the deepest valley can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain.”
“Panos for Progress” was the battle cry until Saturday, September 20th. Today, that movement belongs to you, and it is up to you and me the citizens to place our own names as part of that watch phrase and to win that progress we seek for Honolulu.
God bless Honolulu, God bless Hawaii, and God bless all of you.