BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - Many thought Billy Kenoi would end up in the governor's mansion. That future is in doubt following his indictment Wednesday on theft charges. But some say there's a possibility that Kenoi could make a comeback.
"I think most people including me thought of him as a rising star," said Hawaii News Now political analyst Colin Moore.
"He was very well liked, a great communicator, he was very effective as a mayor, and then he's faced with this scandal. And I think it's of such magnitude it's almost impossible to recover from."
The last time a sitting mayor was indicted was in 1977, when Honolulu's Frank Fasi was brought up on bribery charges that were eventually dropped. He went on to win three more terms as mayor.
For Kenoi to seek office again, he would have to avoid a felony conviction and regain the goodwill he's lost since the government credit card spending scandal went public last year.
Kenoi has apologized, saying at a county meeting last year that he's disappointed his colleagues and his constituents.
But on Wednesday, Kenoi had a difference message: I'm not going away.
"We look forward to finishing up very strong.," he told business leaders about the same time a Hilo grand jury handed down the indictment.
"After I retire politics in November of 2016, I look forward to continue to call Hawaii Island home and continue to have my children be proud that they live in this community."
Will Kenoi's troubles get worse or eventually blow over?
"To get a mayor indicted is serious for any community. It makes voters fear that it goes much deeper and we're just scratching the surface," Moore said.
Calls made to Kenoi's office were not returned Wednesday.