Just a week before ballots dropped in mailboxes for the Primary Election in August, Keith became the target of a well-funded Political Action Committee named Aloha ʻĀina ʻOiaʻiʻo that created false statements of Keith in an attempt to smear his career and reputation. Both the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and Civil Beat have written articles that call these allegations false. These smears are an example of the type of politics of the past that we no longer want to be a part of — one that creates division and negativity versus the new leadership that Keith is offering that brings people together and puts community first. The answers below provide clarity and transparency to the allegations set forth by the smear ads.
Keith is running on a platform for change in Honolulu. But isn’t he connected to the business community and isn’t he related to the current Managing Director of the City and County of Honolulu?
When Keith was the nonprofit executive director of the Hawaiʻi High School Athletics Association, he forged relationships with people all across Hawaiʻi to serve Hawaiʻi’s youth. In this position during the 2009 economic recession, Keith successfully led the “Save Our Sports” grassroots campaign to fundraise $1.5 million across the state, including from families, communities, and the business community to save junior varsity sports from being eliminated at our public high schools. Everything that Keith has done is always for the greater good of the community.
Keith’s cousin, Roy Amemiya Jr., currently serves as the Managing Director of the City and County of Honolulu and does not have a role in Keith’s campaign for Mayor. Roy plans on retiring at the end of this current mayoral term.
During these unprecedented times, it will take all of us as a community to work together as one in our island’s recovery. This requires cultivating strong and trusted relationships that Keith has already built with community organizations, families, small businesses, public sector employees, unions, nonprofits, and all levels of government. As he has done throughout his career, Keith will listen to people affected by decisions and help come up with shared solutions for how best to move forward.
We heard Keith owns a unit at 801 South Street. Isn’t it an affordable housing project?
Keith and Bonny purchased a market-rate unit at 801 South Street for their son, Chris, with the hopes that Chris can build a future on Oʻahu. Keith and Bonny understand how fortunate they are to be in a financial situation to be able to purchase a home for their son. Currently, they rent out this unit to a local family until Chris completes school at a mainland college. Although some units at 801 South were bought and used as a vacation rental or flipped for a profit, Keith and Bonny did not do so.
The 801 South project, built in 2015, provided for some of the largest, most dense workforce housing with 75 percent reserved for workforce housing and 25 percent to the open market. Keith believes that we can learn from lessons of projects like 801 South — taking what worked and fixing what didn’t — to build more of the kinds of affordable housing that we need. Creating more affordable housing for Oʻahu residents will be one of Keith’s first actions as Mayor as outlined in his Housing for All plan.
Isn’t Mayor of the City and County of Honolulu a nonpartisan race? Why does Keith say he’s a Democrat?
Although the Mayor of the City and County of Honolulu is a nonpartisan race, Keith is proud to be a Democrat and stands by his Democratic principles and ideals. Throughout his career, Keith has been able to work with anyone, including those on opposing sides. As Mayor, Keith will work with all people, regardless of their political affiliation. Keith has an ability to listen to others and unite people from different sides in order to get things done for the community.
Why did Keith resign from the Police Commission?
Keith served on the Police Commission from 2006 to 2009 while he was also the Executive Director of the Hawai‘i High School Athletic Association. In 2009, Gov. Linda Lingle instituted Furlough Fridays and other steep cuts that would have also eliminated high school junior varsity sports. Keith spearheaded the successful Save Our Sports initiative, a grassroots effort to save high school junior varsity sports.
SHOPO, the police union, at no prompting from Keith donated $25,000 to the Save Our Sports campaign. Keith voluntarily stepped down from the Police Commission to avoid unnecessary distractions from the good work of both organizations.
Did Keith have something to do with moving the City Division of Motor Vehicles to a new office location at Kapālama Hale?
No. Keith, during his time at Island Holdings, was not involved in the City’s leasing and subsequent acquisition of Kapālama Hale.
Tradewind Capital Group, a subsidiary of Island Holdings, previously owned Kapālama Hale and was approached by the City about leasing space. The City was looking for replacement office spaces after its landlord did not want to renew the lease for its Division of Motor Vehicles and Licensing office at the City Square location on Dillingham Boulevard.
The property at Kapālama Hale enabled the City to move its DMV office from the City Square location along with a number of other City departments that were previously leasing from other private landowners. Eventually, the City exercised the option to acquire the property. In general, many government agencies have found that owning property is a much better value to taxpayers than continued leasing of private property.