No, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you. That is Kevin Dayton’s byline in Civil Beat.

The veteran reporter joined us here at Civil Beat last week after nearly three decades at the Honolulu Advertiser and then the Star-Advertiser.

He’ll be playing to his strengths — state government and politics as well as some areas where he brings deep experience like prisons and correctional issues. Kevin also plans to double-team with Civil Beat reporter Marcel Honore to broaden our coverage of the Honolulu rail project.

“I want to step back a little bit from the daily grind and start drilling deeper into the issues I’ve been curious about,” Kevin says about why he jumped to our ship. “In the pace of the daily stuff you end up skimming the surface so much.”

Kevin Dayton joins Honolulu Civil Beat.

Veteran Hawaii journalist Kevin Dayton has joined Honolulu Civil Beat as a senior government and politics reporter.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

We’re of course thrilled to have him.

He’s been a must-read in Hawaii news for a long time. Kevin landed here in the islands as an Army infantry soldier, stationed at Schofield Barracks.

He got his undergraduate degree in journalism at the University of Arizona in Tucson and then a master’s in political science at the University of Hawaii Manoa.

Journalism has proven to be a good career choice for Kevin. “It’s a job where they pay you to be curious,” he says. “You constantly get an opportunity to poke around, to learn, to snoop. You get to explore anything you want and state government encompasses anything in Hawaii.”

While covering the Kilauea volcano eruption in the 1990s he met his wife, Mahealani, and ended up moving there. Now he splits his time between Oahu, particularly when the Legislature is in session, and the Big Island.

Kevin is the father of five grown kids, as he puts it, and he has three more young ones at home that he and Mahealani have fostered and adopted or hope to adopt. The Daytons have been state-licensed foster parents since 2009.

It’s a system he knows well and an issue he is passionate about. Kevin says they decided to take in foster kids once they got to a comfortable financial place in their own lives, with a nice house and a big yard.

“Unfortunately there’s always stories about kids in need and the need is huge,” he says. “The state is always short good foster families.”

Kevin will be joining reporter Blaze Lovell and politics and opinion editor Chad Blair to strengthen and expand our coverage of government and politics. It’s an important beat at an important time, as the effort to contain the coronavirus has decimated Hawaii’s state budget, blown a major hole in the economy and exposed critical flaws in our government and economic structures.

At a time when statehouse coverage is shrinking nationally as news organizations lay off more and more journalists, we’re glad to be in a position to provide even better coverage of state government and the elected officials whose decisions are so important to all of our lives.

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