WASHINGTON — Hawaii Congressman Kai Kahele took to the House floor Thursday to honor fellow Big Island politician Billy Kenoi, who died last month at the age of 52 after a lengthy battle with cancer.

Kahele shared a story about the death of his own father, Gil Kahele, in 2016 while he was still serving as a Hawaii state senator.

Hawaii Congressman Kai Kahele says he considered former Big Island mayor Billy Kenoi a mentor. CSPAN

He said Kenoi called him and urged him to come to the State Capitol where he would eventually fill his father’s seat and pursue a life in politics.

Kenoi’s words were simple, yet profound, Kahele said, “It was time.”

“Nobody could deny Billy’s charm, keen political drive and charismatic leadership,” Kahele said.

“And for all his high level leadership and larger than life personality, he left his mark in the individual interactions he had with people — always kind and authentic. Some of us had the fortune of getting to know him as a friend. For me, he was also a mentor.”

You can watch Kahele’s full floor speech here.

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