You can tell he’s a writer, a storyteller.
And you can tell he’s an Islander.
His Kings County ‘twang’. His thoughtful consideration, sincerity and gratitude.
Last night, Dennis King – Denny, as many know him – officially announced his intent to run as leader for the PC party of Prince Edward Island.
On the same stage where he’s performed as one of The Four Tellers for the past four years, at Kings Playhouse in his hometown of Georgetown, he looked every bit the part of a political leader in his suit, cufflinks and polished shoes.
“They told me I had to put on nice socks tonight,” he said, hauling up his pant legs.
That’s Denny. Nothing to hide.
And that’s what he believes Islanders want from their leader, their government – transparency. Honesty. Truth.
Even if it’s ugly sometimes.
“I’m excited, but I’m terrified,” he said later in the evening, sitting on the edge of the stage where he earlier addressed a packed house filled with family, friends, neighbours, colleagues and supporters. “I know there’s going to be bad days.”
But it was only good times last night.
“We’re proud of our boy,” said one attendee, Barb Mazerolle, a lifelong friend and fellow Georgetown native. “And we know how to do it right in Georgetown,” she added, referring the evening’s festivities.
Indeed, the building sounded more like a kitchen party than a political launch, with a guitar playing tunes, kids running around, and plenty of laughter throughout.
“If there was 200 people here tonight, 165 of them would take a bullet for me. I think that’s my greatest strength, everyone knows me,” he said.
“And the greatest challenge I’ll have will be that everyone knows me, and I can’t please everyone.”
He knows it’s not going to be easy. He knows there will be some disappointment along the way.
“I can’t always be Mr. Nice Guy, and that’s going to be tough on me.”
Leading up to his decision to run, some people were telling him he’s ‘too nice for politics,’ he said.
“So what I started saying back was, ‘What’s that say about us? That the people we want in our politics are too nice for politics?’ Maybe it’s time to take our politics back. Maybe it’s OK to be nice.”
He’s realistic, too.
He knows not everyone will be ready for the changes he wants to introduce. But he’s hopeful the political shift he wants to lead reflects the conversations he’s had with Islanders over the past few months.
People over politics, he said.
That was the theme of his speech, aligning with the theme of his campaign: “It’s about people.”
Government should serve P.E.I., not the party, he said.
“The way the system is set up now, the way it’s designed, it excludes people. It doesn’t make any sense.”
He wants everyone, all parties, to be involved in the way government operates.
“We need ideas from everybody,” he said. “There are a whole lot of really good people with a whole lot of really good ideas who should play a more vital role in the day-to-day business of all this.”
As a professional communicator, it’s no surprise he wants everybody in the conversation.
“My belief is that people feel left out. And I hope they see in me someone who wants to do better than that.”