Its pretty powerful people that are very well connected, and very entrenched, you might even say, Are you really your own man, or are other people pushing you to take this job? Give us something different, something that would bring down the number of tourists, other than Airbnbs and get you this high spending tourist you keep talking about it. Her work seeks to hold the government accountable for how it spends money and makes decisions that affect people's lives. We need to be creative. Contact & Personal Details. So just how does Amemiya plan on curing the citys ills? Its a comprehensive plan that seeks to aggressively reduce the housing vacancy or housing inventory shortage that we have right now. Our vision is to be a leader in shaping a more vital and thriving Hawaii as the foundation for future generations. To remain at our site, click BACK. You know for some reason, I thought I might be asked that today, and I have the answer. Kahauiki Village is a perfect, perfect example. And in particular, because after that project was completed, many units changed hands and at higher prices. I know there are challenges. , Since January 2021, Amemiya has served as executive director of the Central Pacific Bank Foundation. HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - With Hawaiis primary election getting closer by the day, the five leading candidates for Honolulu mayor sat down for an extensive, hour-long job interview with journalists from Hawaii News Now and Honolulu Civil Beat in an attempt to find out which candidate was most qualified for the citys top job. The lieutenant governors office is an office of opportunity. And thats one of the first priorities that I want to take. Those people need revenue, their lack of having gainful employment affects all of us, affects the citys revenue, affects the states revenue, the federal revenue. We just lost Loretta Sheehan, we just lost Steve Levinson, highly critical about the commission not really having oversight over (the Honolulu Police Department). Everywhere I go around this island, people tell me they want change. Thats what mayors do, thats what leaders do, is find solutions to very difficult situations. Hes appointed me to a couple of state boards and commissions. I believe Hawaii is too dependent on tourism as its primary economic driver and pre-pandemic levels of tourism put a strain on our island resources. The city had approximately $200,000,000 in reserve in the prior fiscal year. It taught me that its a difficult problem, there are not enough services for mentally ill people. For faster navigation, this Iframe is preloading the Wikiwand page for Keith Amemiya . Weve somehow lost our way. I mean, I cant blame it all on government. Japanese in Hawaii are the state's second-largest ethnic group, and Amemiya would have been the first mayor of Honolulu of Japanese ancestry. Not me. High cost of living is the number one concern I hear from working class families across Oahu, and I was the first, and Im the only candidate to have a housing-for-all plan. Amemiya testified before a federal grand jury Thursday. Im running for lieutenant governor because Im concerned for Hawaiis future. In terms of fundraising, he has spearheaded many successful multi-million dollar campaigns statewide, including to save Junior Varsity sports in our public schools, the construction of Roosevelt High Schools new football field and track, and the creation of middle school sports programs in the most impoverished areas in the state. But I also think we can do things like focusing on higher end tourists, higher quality tourists, tourists that spend more money, as opposed to the bargain basement tourists that weve had that havent really added to our bottom line, so to speak, in terms of quality of life and revenue to our hotel workers. And I dont know if those two are fully being utilized under the current constraints of the commission. A huge shot in the arm for your campaign, but also it seems to it also comes with strings attached. All rights reserved, https://www.cpb.bank/resources/2021/february/cpb-foundation-appoints-keith-amemiya-executive-director-awards-100-000-grant-to-the-salvation-army-hawaiian-pacific-islands, Copyright 2022, Central Pacific Bank. It was done under the Abercrombie administration. However, the Thirty Meter Telescope has seemingly become the tipping point for Native Hawaiian issues and concerns that have been ignored for far too long, and an example of how difficult it is to come back to the table once trust has been broken. We need to look at it top to bottom, we need to look at creative ways that have been done successfully on the mainland. And its more prevalent than people who think or want admit. "Keith brings a wealth of knowledge, relationships and experience to CPB Foundation," said Catherine Ngo, Chair, CPB Foundation. Everywhere I go, people say that we need change. How would that work? Everyone has some relative or friend who has mental illness, and its its like any other illness. You say that you want to restore trust in government. Would you impose a minimum wage of, say, $20 an hour for across-the-board, or for the hospitality industry, or something like that? For the very determined Keith Amemiya, the seeds of his disposition were planted the day hnai parents Bert and Harriet Kobayashi sat him down for a heart-to-heart discussion about his future. Amemiya, 54, has until the Aug. 8 primary to convince Oahu voters that he deserves to lead the city into the next decade. What did you change when you were on the commission? This is an economic situation changing by the week, changing by the month, its unprecedented. Cory Lum/Civil Beat. It was 1995 when Amemiya first crossed paths with the woman who would become his life partner. Wow.  Until 2019 he was the campaign treasurer for U.S. I dont know if its the same degree or not, but Im a firm believer in you can always be better, you should always try to be better. I agree with her that the vast majority of our officers in Honolulu are honorable law-abiding people who care about our community, but theres always room for improvement. I used to spend weekends with them often, and one day they asked me, or told me like, Hey, why dont you live with us?' This Endless Keith Amemiya is on Facebook. We need them to succeed. bike to work, walk to work, catch the bus to work. There are shelter beds available, we need to get the homeless people to the shelter. I mean, theyre all lumped together and its huge, huge concerns, and theyre lumped together and they both have the same solution. I dont think were gonna take away necessarily from any other department, Ive heard from the construction industry, and the development industry, theyre willing to help pay for increased pay for workers or whatever it takes to retain workers in DPP so that they dont leave after six months or a year and start the turnover churn over and over. But clearly the current systems not working, and when I ran high school sports in Hawaii, and it was obviously a state-wide organization, it sounds simple, but it worked, in my opinion very well. Well, we need to get out of our cars and car pool. Over time, yes, you realized something was amiss with her. What are you gonna do about this very fundamental problem? Its focused on three areas: number one, focus on housing for Oahu residents and not out-of-state residents; number two, eliminating the variables that increase the cost of housing in Hawaii, like about 8,000 illegal vacation rentals that are still in existence on the island; and then third, we need to take steps to make it easier to develop affordable housing in the urban core, whether thats the city creating more sewage infrastructure, more water infrastructure, allowing more density, you know, speeding up the building permit process. So, I empathize with other families who have to deal with that, and I think we need to do more as a society to address it and not just sweep it under the rug. Well, its clear that the higher the wage for hotel workers and the like, the better their quality of life. You know, I never held it against her. Yes, absolutely, but this does not address the long-term issues. Yeah, we know you from high school, we know about Island Holdings, and you left that company, youre no longer with that company. Court Records. And as the mayor, you can control a couple of things in that regard. I support resuming tourism, but not at the 10 million visitors a year amount. Waimanalo, were telling you, you you need to show up at Pope Elementary cafeteria this Thursday night. So I dont wanna speculate. Is this the green visitor fuel youre talking about? Now if I can add to that, the pandemic has taught us that maybe everyone doesnt have to go to downtown to work, that maybe you can work from home, maybe we can have four-day work weeks across the board with rotating days off, so that traffic is spread out over the week. We have to get the cost of living under control too many of our families and friends are already having to leave every year. Ill answer the resistance to change part first. The mailer also claims Amemiya illegally purchased an apartment meant for low-income buyers at the 801 South Street condominiums. I need to show voters that Im running to be mayor for the right reason, he continues. I just, I knew she wasnt acting like that on purpose, I knew something was wrong, so if anything, I felt compassion for her. Make state lands available for low or no cost for affordable housing to be developed, where appropriate and where sufficient infrastructure exists. But is it really almost done? He prefers to tout his accomplishments as a statewide leader, which includes years of public service as executive director of Hawaii High School Athletic Association and executive administrator to the Board of Regents at University of Hawaii. Keith has got a good skill-set when it comes to dealing with people and making connections with them, observes wife Bonny. If a developer, for instance, followed the law, they did reach out to people such as the Kahuku windfarm. And thats why Im running. Those are three areas we can be successful in, but it takes political will, explains Amemiya. Now granted, I had a lot of help with that, but it was through my initiative to do that, and Im proud of giving girls more opportunities. Corruption scandals at the Capitol have shaken our trust in Hawaiis elected officials. I suspect that if Im elected mayor, our lives are all going to change, he says. You know, I dont know if its the citys role to tell them what to do, but I do know the hotels are already planning for climate change and sea level rise. And number three, implicit bias training. But thats part of the deal and Im OK with it.. And I have a lot of support on the grassroots. Below is the full transcript of Keith Amemiyas discussion with Mahealani Richardson, Daryl Huff, Colin Moore, Chad Blair, Christina Jedra and Stewart Yerton. from the William S. Richardson School of Law. I sympathize with the public. Why cant we have online submittal, or registering for testimony? And they have a lottery system, if Im not mistaken, where not everyone can get a car even if they want to. Keith Amemiya (born 1965 or 1966) is an American business executive and politician who ran in the 2020 Honolulu mayoral election. And while he still views tourism as a big part of our economy, Amemiya also believes that greater diversity is required. We also need to look at more third-party review. Lack of political will. Theyre experienced in being involved in politics their whole career, theyre experienced in running for different offices every election cycle. PHOTO COURTESY KEITH AMEMIYA, He would soon find out. As one of Amemiyas first actions as Executive Director, CPB Foundation awarded The Salvation Army's Hawaiian & Pacific Islands Division a $100,000 grant to support their Addiction Treatment Services (ATS) program located in Nuuanu. All rights reserved. There are many inspirational things happening in different parts of our community that can each help to build exciting opportunities for Hawaiis future. So let me follow up on this too. I have no opinion on that. Thats my intent. They had a lot of engagement in the community that said, We dont want it. And the developer said, Well, too bad. He also intends to push for more affordable housing projects around Oahu, and lobby the private sector to develop additional residences within the urban core. We do a lot of chores and we do a lot of takeout, notes Bonny, adding that the couple often passes its weekends watching documentaries and, prior to COVID-19, attending numerous sporting events together. We plan on helping him merge morals and values. Anyone who lives in those areas have an expectation that there will be tourist as their neighbors. Thats the only way we can get out of this, that we have to help each other. We have to wait and see. Commissioner, right, you actually ran that back under Mayor Hannemann, if I remember correctly, Hannemann. The green passport, I believe Ive heard that term used. There are hardly any services in Chinatown. So far, momentum appears to be on his side with last weeks news that he was outpacing his political rivals in campaign funds raised with more than $1.2 million. We need to build more affordable housing. Yes, Im frustrated like everyone else at the rail progress thus far. Right, well, I have a lot of broad-based experience, especially for the job of mayor. It wouldnt make sense to force a $20 an hour minimum wage when companies will shut down because they cant afford to pay their workers, but I do favor a serious look at increasing wages for our front line workers. Most people, most politicians are saying they want to bring back a lower level of tourism. They treated me like one of their own children. He also served as Executive Director of the Hawaii High School Athletic Association. , In February 2021, Amemiya was appointed as executive director of Central Pacific Bank Foundation. Thats why Im big on rail, thats why I wanna emphasize multi-modal transportation. Keith calls Honolulu, HI, home. To his credit, he didnt buckle under pressure. On his campaign. My understanding is that theyre nearly finished with it, and it is a road map, a guide map on how to address climate change in the next several decades. You can impose a tourist passport tax, to levy against tourists, and itll be used to help provide or pay down infrastructure. More so when she was living on her own, and thats another thing people dont realize, theres different levels of mental illness. Its a tough situation, its like the pandemic, we havent really faced that in our lifetime or even before, and we need to just work together. Whos really behind your campaign?' We just wanted to launch into the questions for this job interview. But I wouldnt rule anything off the table at this point. Well, to me, were at the point where we need to do what we can to finish the project. Honolulu, HI 96813 What have they done wrong? I also believe we need to improve in the following areas: Clearer, more consistent communication to the public, with coordination from all levels of government and business and community leaders. I am sure that you heard from those developers though, that, Yes, we were reaching out to neighborhood boards, we were following the process, we were communicating with communities. But all of a sudden the conflict rises. Were fortunate. At the time, he was a young civil litigation attorney and Bonny (formerly Suzui) was the CFO of a local fast food chain. Its unfair for a mother of two who has a job to expect to be able to take four hours off from work, sit in the gallery at City Council, waiting to testify, not knowing if shes gonna be able to testify, being whether shes number two on the list or number 142 on the list. It would also create a diverse field of new local jobs that pay competitively in industries to help keep our young people in Hawaii and create more remote working opportunities so workers can spend more time with their families rather than on the road. Im having a hard time figuring out where the experience in your career Where did you get experience to deal with these issues? And there was certainly cultures of looking the other way for domestic violence, there was favoritism among police officers. I basically doubled the amount of female sports opportunities during my tenure. Lack of collaboration, partisan divide, pettiness, you name it. Okay, youre from the police commission. During the COVID-19 pandemic, I saw firsthand the food insecurity that was caused when the schools shut down, and many families went without meals. Ryan Keiji Amemiya, Clayton Amemiya, Dean Masuno, Bonny Amemiya and Marilyn Amemiya, and many . Keith, speaking about Governor Ige, obviously, one of the things the mayor will have to do is work closely with the governor and with the legislature, particularly now, in the recovery from COVID. Why cant we testify via Skype, like I said, or Facetime? And its something that never goes away. What was your connection to that project? As a longtime advocate thats been involved with several projects to address homelessness, Im pleased to announce the $100,000 grant to The Salvation Army Hawaiian & Pacific Islands Divisions highly successful ATS program. Its important for a mayor to lead by example, and right now the public has little trust in government and political leaders, says Amemiya. Their first date was dinner at a nondescript sports bar in Honolulu. Keith Amemiya, thank you so much for your time. You showed your cards there. I wonder, What got them to that point. I think of my own mom, who has mental illness and was on the brink of homelessness many times, if not for her family and friends. His leadership is proving invaluable to hit the ground running, forging a bright path forward beyond the current pandemic and continuing our mission of supporting Hawaii communities.. Box 1777, Honolulu, HI 96806. Copyright MidWeek | All rights reserved. And we saw first-hand that the incidences of domestic violence were already increasing. I created girls water polo, I created girls judo, I created girls wrestling. And again, I know you said we cant keep mentioning illegal vacation rentals, but that will play a huge role in limiting the type and quality of tourists that we have. You know Keith, I was looking back, you place so much importance on your role running the high school athletic programs. Thats a function of poor communication between government and our citizenry, and thats something that I wanna emphasize as mayor. Both have lots of bodies, both have lots of money. I created a separate girls golf as a sport. Today, she serves as girls basketball coach at Molokai High. Younger people in general are more open to change and new technology, so I think its a great opportunity to utilize that. In the near-term, abortion rights will be protected in our state, but we need to work to strengthen these rights at the state level, such as ensuring greater access for medical abortions across all islands and creating opportunities for others from outside the state to access medical services here. , Amemiya met his wife, Bonny (ne Suzui), in 1995 when she was the CFO of a local fast food chain. I have dedicated my career to public service by working directly in every community statewide throughout my career. There are far more resources available to the homeless in the Iwilei area, which is fairly close by, and we need to do what we can to divert them to that area. In the long run, when we fully build out transit-oriented development at every rail station, it will result in millions and millions of dollars in real property tax revenue for the city, so we cant wait any longer, and we need to do what we can. I do believe that whenever Hawaii has an opportunity to be the worlds leader in a field, when we can further the discovery of our universe, and when we can create more high paying jobs on Hawaii Island, we need to strongly consider it. Full Transcript: Keith Amemiyas Interview, The five leading candidates for Honolulu Mayor sit down for an extensive job interview with six journalists from Hawaii News Now and Civil Beat, 'The Other Side of Paradise' with Lynn Kawano, [email protected] (808) 847-3246, [email protected] (808) 847-3246, [email protected] (808) 847-3246, [email protected] (808) 847-3246, [email protected] (808) 847-3246. Were also coming out of a remarkable situation, the police chief convicted, his wife, the former deputy prosecutor, theres a loss of confidence in the part of the citizens, the City and County of Honolulu, whether they can trust an HPD officer. The mayoral candidate joins 100 supporters during a sign-waving outing in East Oahu. You basically make it easier to get past, eventually. Chief Ballard said that HPD cant be compared to police departments on the mainland, that she doesnt believe theres a systemic problem particularly involving racism, perhaps violence and misconduct. Because from what I see, youve been a director of a non-profit and you work at an insurance company, but youve got no direct experience in government, no direct experience in a for-profit business. We need to pivot towards a more multi-modal transportation system. Would you be willing to freeze or reduce city worker salaries, for example? Additionally, he is credited with reuniting the Oahu public and private schools in football after 48 years of separation, a feat many thought was impossible. The mayor has appointed some two new people, and well see whether they do a good job. Copyright 2020 Hawaii News Now. , American business executive and politician, 2022 Hawaii lieutenant gubernatorial election, "New TV Spots Promote Keith Amemiya's Democratic Roots", "Keith Amemiya: Political Outsider Or Establishment Insider? Mauna Kea is a special place for Hawaii, for spirituality, and for the universe. Speaking of fairness, what about for the hotels that have been essentially not able to operate for months what about giving them a tax break on property taxes? If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. I first met Kalei when she was in middle school and, because she couldnt get the type of training and player development she needed on Molokai, Bonny and I agreed to let her live with us, explains Amemiya. So my relationship with Governor and Mrs. Ige is strong. If theres a shortage of workers at DPP, lets look at outsourcing even more and focus more on compliance and enforcement on the back end. I struggled financially, admits Amemiya in recalling that period of his life in the 1980s. We know how it worked out, now Sherwoods is finally off the table, but it seemed like people were listening and reaching out in the community. I dont wanna say somethings gonna be cut until we know the true situation in terms of the citys finances a year from now. Many of them had to make hard choices, whether its to pay the rent or pay their car bill, whether its pay their medical bill or food on the table or even choose to stay here and struggle or move away from family and friends to the mainland to find lower cost of living. After graduating from Punahou in 1983, Amemiya studied finance and law at the University of Hawaii at Mnoa, where he earned his degrees. Now, of course, Im willing to work with everyone, whether they be Republican, Independent, Aloha Aina party or whatever other party thats out there. And also Governor Ige came out and said that was a failed policy. I worry about her today, shes in a care home now, but still, I think about her constantly. And if they submit shoddy plans, theyre gonna be held accountable in the long run and they wont be allowed to do business with the city. Thats the aloha spirit at work, and those who are fortunate need to help those who are less fortunate. The real property tax assessments in the upcoming year, we cant assume or shouldnt assume that theyre gonna go down significantly. Their oldest son, Chris, was my best friend. If you have any, ideas on how to deal with that, all the cars on the road, buses, other things? So prior to that I was getting shuttled from relative to relative, and I was very close to the Kobayashi family. So, hearing you say a lot about communication, that Im seeing two examples, all very fresh with very different outcomes and a lot of different interpretations of what actually happened. Would you require something like that as part of the permitting process, some kind of online forum for people that developers would have to go through, reach out to people really let people engage? With no candidate receiving an outright majority of the vote in the August 8 nonpartisan blanket primary, the top two finishers, Amemiya and Rick Blangiardi, advanced to a runoff on November 3. As part of his economic recovery package, Amemiya aims to lift residents out of the coronavirus crisis through continued testing, increased contact tracing and vigilant treatment, all the while calling for greater protection of Hawaiis environment and zero-emission transportation for a sustainable future. We have limited resources, so its imperative that the next mayor have a good relationship with our federal delegation, our state delegation and the City Council, and I intend to have a good relationship with all three. Stopping it actually makes a situation worse again. Coordination of evidence-based and research-driven practices for community-wide testing and vaccinations. Thats a huge amount. Im always optimistic, and I truly believe in my heart that we can get through this economic crisis and be better than ever.. After graduating from Punahou in 1983, Amemiya studied finance and law at the University of Hawaii at Mnoa, where he earned his degrees. The project has a least another five or six years, I think, to completion. My plan to lower the cost of living consists of: Access and information to ensure that peoples basic needs are met, such as food and housing. So what do you say to those folks who have some sort of vacation rental, what even to you do to them if youre mayor? Additionally, Amemiya was the one who, despite early opposition from school administrators, fought to expand the number of girls sports programs, and won. And as mayor, I will work with everyone. I added several female sports that didnt exist before, whether its girls golf prior to that, the girls have to compete with the boys for the championship, that was unfair. Weve gone too far. You need to surround yourself with honorable, decent people who always do the right thing. We need to do all of that, because housing is in short supply on the island. Essentially, they told him that although they had welcomed him into their home and raised him since his early teenage years, he the childhood buddy of their son Christopher and someone whom Bert had frequently coached in youth sports leagues needed to learn to stand on his own.
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