Public Health & Economic Recovery
Overcoming the ongoing COVID-19 crisis is the biggest issue of the 2020 election, and the selection of the next Mayor will have profound consequences on the future of Oʻahu. The choice before voters is clear. Keith’s opponent thinks he can turnaround the city as one might turn around a faltering business. This simplistic proposition is made every election by business chiefs who are confident that they have the best ideas.
Keith cares about the truth, and the truth is that no matter how much we wish it were so, the job of Mayor is not that simple. It requires the input of many viewpoints, the work of many citizens, and the coordination of numerous resources in order to bring the most benefits to the most people, especially those with the least. Keith is not promising to sweep into office and flip City government as someone might flip an old house. Keith is promising to assemble the most capable and high integrity team. He will listen to communities and learn about how citizens are affected by the major issues so that solutions can be found among all parties, and action can be driven until our shared goals are achieved.
To recover from COVID-19 Keith will keep us focused on the fact that our public health goals and economic recovery goals are intertwined. He knows that stopping the spread COVID-19 cannot be achieved with proclamations and mandates. We cannot have a leader who is just going to sit back and tell everyone what he thinks they should do. Instead, Keith will be a leader who enlists all citizens into the process of defeating COVID-19. Everyone can do their part to protect one another by wearing a mask, washing hands, practicing physical distancing, and avoiding large crowds. Government must do its part as well by providing extra support to those communities that are most at risk of getting and spreading COVID-19.
Most importantly, government must establish sufficient testing, contact tracing, and isolation and quarantine capacity to mitigate the spread. The next Mayor can’t just command these things to happen. He has to work with multiple community partners and all levels of government while coordinating numerous agencies and resources. The job requires the proven ability to bring people together to solve complex problems.
As we work together to make our island safer from COVID-19, we will also need to start reopening our economy. Keith’s “Recovery Plan for a Healthy Honolulu” outlines the steps he will take to ensure that our community is safe and thriving. In the early days of his administration, Keith will:
- Rely on the most up-to-date medical and public health data available and hire a City Public Health advisor to help develop disease management plans, train staff, coordinate cross-department and cross-sectoral relationships, and improve public health in other areas
- Ensure that Oʻahu has the necessary equipment, PPE supplies, and information to make reopening safe
- Enact and maintain clear and consistent guidelines and communication for our local families and businesses to follow
- Create an Ambassador Program where staff go to local businesses to educate them about face coverings, physical distancing, how to contact trace, and other safety measures
- Expand the open streets program to allow the use of outdoor spaces like city parking lots, sidewalks, landscaped areas, and other areas as appropriate for individuals, families, and business use once it is safe to do so
- Ensure existing industries follow the necessary safety protocols, support local businesses trying to transform operations in response to the pandemic, and invest in industries such as agriculture, aquaculture, renewable energy, and construction, which will create good new jobs.
Housing and Houselessness
Hawai‘i has been in a housing crisis for decades. But the same solutions suggested today and for previous decades have never been implemented by a generation of politicians. Keith is the only Mayoral candidate who has put forward a comprehensive Housing For All Plan that seeks to close the 22,000 unit gap to meet O‘ahu residential needs. His housing plan seeks to prioritize development for O‘ahu residents, stop illegal vacation rentals, build homes for communities that need them the most, and stimulate the private sector to build homes in the urban core.
The primary barrier to addressing houselessness is addressing the lack of affordable housing for Oʻahu residents. With over 22,000 units needed on Oʻahu, coupled with one of the highest housing costs in the country, even the lowest cost units are out of reach for many of Oʻahu’s residents.
In addition to increasing the supply of affordable housing for Oʻahu residents, the City needs to embrace a greater role in addressing mental health. Keith understands mental health issues from a personal level after growing up watching his mother deal with her mental illness. At least 300 of Oʻahu’s unsheltered community suffer from debilitating mental health issues. These are often the most visible with the least options and support available to them. The City should be helping them into appropriate residential care settings, not shuffling them between providers, jail, and the streets. Although healthcare is the state’s responsibility, Keith believes the City needs to play a role to ensure its residents – both housed and not – have the opportunity for the quality of life they deserve.
Agriculture, Food Security & Sustainability
Food security is not an abstract, theoretical issue for Keith. When the COVID-19 crisis came to Hawaiʻi, Keith and his team distributed 14,000 meals to local families, kūpuna, and frontline essential workers. He listened to their stories and made a commitment that, if elected Mayor, he would make it a priority to end the problem of hunger in 21st century Oʻahu. Keith knows that it’s not only families that have been struggling, but Hawaiʻi’s farmers and ranchers have also seen a 50% decline in sales. Keith knows that we can increase food access for those in need, support our struggling farmers and ranchers, and close the loop to recapture food and sustainably manage our waste.
The state Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism found that replacing just 10% of what we import with local agriculture would shift some $313 million dollars per year back to local businesses. By getting more local products on our shelves, we will create good jobs for local families and invest in a more sustainable agricultural industry.
As indicated in his “Recovery Plan for a Healthy Honolulu,” Keith’s administration will continue keiki and kūpuna meal programs, make City land available for community gardens, increase City purchases of local food, support job training to boost growth of the agricultural industry, increase food recapturing and composting, and create more opportunities for farmers and ranchers to utilize appropriate lands. Working together on these ideas and more, we will create a better future for our keiki and an economy that can weather any storm.
Keith’s opponent says that dealing with climate change is important to support the tourism industry, but that’s the wrong view. Yes, protecting our environment does have economic consequences, but addressing the climate crisis is a social issue, a cultural issue, and a moral issue. If we fail to take our stand now, our children and our children’s children will be left with disaster. We are long overdue for leaders with the political courage to lead based on science and values instead of just who profits.
How does a small island of one million people make a meaningful impact on a planetary issue? We do it by becoming a role model for how people can take care of their place. We do this by building unity and commitment to change, by reaching for ambitious goals and making real progress toward them, and by strengthening relationships with other cities around the world with whom we will exchange ideas and inspiration.
This work begins on Day 1 of an Amemiya Administration. Keith agrees with scientists that the state’s goal of 100% clean energy by 2045 is not ambitious enough. Keith will bring all parties together to get a Climate Action Plan into law so that he and future administrations will be held accountable to take bold steps. He will implement innovative solutions and technologies such as transforming the bus fleet and establishing energy efficient government buildings. Keith will accelerate the shift to clean energy the same way he’s gotten things done in the past. He will bring businesses, unions, community groups, and agencies together to build a shared commitment to the goal and to first steps such as increasing public understanding of climate change and streamlining solar permitting processes.
Transportation & Rail
Transportation on Oʻahu has been hotly debated since the 1980s and 90s. Unfortunately, many of Hawaiʻi’s business and political leaders are still stuck in those decades. Their perspectives fail to include today’s realities of the high cost of living in the 2020s, telecommuting on virtual platforms, the impacts of transportation choices on climate change, and lifestyle choices of Generation X, Millennials, and Generation Z.
Keith believes in maximizing mobility and efficiency. This means a variety of transportation opportunities based on community needs that ensure accessibility and affordability to all regardless of geography, age or economic status. This multi-modal system–rail, buses, cars, bikes, pedestrians–will make life predictable, navigable and safe for our local families while eliminating our dependence on fossil fuels. Keith is a supporter of Complete Streets principles that make our transportation infrastructure safer and more livable. And the electric bus fleet in an Amemiya Administration will be cleaner, greener, and more responsive to community needs.
Rail is just one part of this solution, but it is the costliest and most problematic. Years of boasting and bluster and lack of leadership have turned it into an embarrassment for Honolulu. When Keith inherits the project as our next Mayor, he will take full responsibility for it. Keith believes it is important that the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) ensure completion of the Ala Moana Center phase of rail to ensure the Oʻahu taxpayers won’t be stuck repaying hundreds of millions of dollars to the federal government. As Mayor, Keith will aggressively call for increased transparency and accountability to avoid further waste and to uphold the public trust.
Restoring Trust In Government
We all see the damage that corporate boss Donald Trump has done to this country. In the same way, some people think that a city needs to be run by a strong boss. But the City government is not a Mayor’s corporate kingdom; it is a public trust. When people say the government needs to be run like a business, they fail to understand that taxes don’t belong to rich investors; they belong to citizens. Government employees aren’t expendable labor capital, they are public servants who are our neighbors and friends. Government programs aren’t for entertainment, they are crucial lifelines for our most vulnerable people. The Mayor isn’t free to do whatever he wants; the Mayor is the people’s employee.
Keith understands the solemn responsibility of public leadership. As Mayor, he will lead as he’s always done — with humility and integrity. His first priority will be to build a team with the right combination of experience and fresh thinking. He will appoint the most qualified people regardless of political affiliation or prior relationship as long as they possess two traits — integrity and ability. Together, they will rebuild the public trust by focusing first on consistently delivering basic City services like filling potholes, cutting grass, cleaning bathrooms, and making public spaces clean and safe.
With all the wealthy people and corrupt actors occupying positions of power, it is no wonder that people have lost trust in government. One of Keith’s core initiatives will be the establishment of an Office of Community Engagement which will have as a mission the engagement of more citizens so they can make their government better. The Office of Community Engagement will utilize technology and community outreach to make public meetings more relevant and accessible, bring new people into the process, and be more transparent.
Systemic Racism, Police Reform & Crime
A generation ago, it was common for people to claim that there is no racism in Hawaiʻi. This old notion continues to be an especially convenient thing to say for those in positions of privilege and power. In 2020, we need leaders who are willing to reframe the discussion. Yes, Hawaiʻi is a beautiful community with a core value of aloha, but for too long, too many have used “Aloha” as a marketing slogan for profit-making.
When Keith learned of the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, the shooting of Jacob Blake, and countless other incidents, he didnʻt just see them as big problems “over there.” He knows there are layers upon layers of structural inequality, injustice, and systemic racism right here. In Hawaiʻi, this bigotry is often aimed at Pacific Islanders, Hawaiians, Filipinos, and others who face bigotry and who are overrepresented in our prison population and homeless shelters.
As the leader of the Hawaiʻi High School Athletic Association, Keith learned quickly that sports was an equalizer. He tapped into people’s shared commitment, not just to sports, but to our children no matter what their background. Keith knows how to bring different people together to make life better for all. He is ready to work with all communities to dismantle barriers and respond to systemic racism, reform our criminal justice system, and reduce crime.
Keith will address systemic racism and implicit bias in our community by increasing language access to government services for frontline communities, including access to information relating to COVID-19. He will implement implicit bias training for all City workers and support a uniform process for hate crime data collection
Keith also knows that our City has leaned too heavily on law enforcement for issues that require support services. Not only does this have limited success in the lives of those coming into contact with the criminal justice system, but it overburdens our law enforcement officers with tasks they are not always prepared to do. True police reform includes allocating more resources for mental health and substance abuse treatment, shifting funds to support services that pivot at-risk residents away from the criminal justice system and towards the help they need, eliminating the practice of neck restraints or chokeholds, and mandating that all officers wear body cameras, which protect the public and law enforcement alike while capturing evidence for court.
When the reform measures are combined with smart crime policies, we will see a reduction in costs to the taxpayers, a lessening of the burden on our law enforcement, and a system that sets residents up for success by getting them the support services they need to not reoffend. Under Keith’s administration, Oʻahu will see more community policing, where officers build trust and relationships while being able to respond quickly. There will also be more diversion programs that connect youth, non-violent, and first-time offenders to support services while saving taxpayers the up to $140 a day it costs to hold someone in custody. Keith will also support victim services, including partnerships between the City and service providers, such as those that work with domestic violence and sexual assault survivors and other vulnerable groups.
Equality for the LGBTQ+ Community
For all of us who care deeply about equal rights for the LGBTQ+ community, the choices in 2020 could not be more clear. At the top of the ballot, we must reject Donald Trump and his allies who have systematically hammered away at LGBTQ+ equality in the military, healthcare, housing, criminal justice, and education. And when it comes to Mayor, we must elect Keith Amemiya.
In the 12 years when he led the Hawaiʻi High School Athletic Association, Keith worked with our diverse youth and families across the state, and through these experiences, he was able to see firsthand how the examples our leaders at the top set have real consequences in peoples’ everyday lives. Keith’s values will be clear for all to see. For example, he will stand with youth service and advocacy organizations as they ask the State to eliminate barriers that prevent homeless and unaccompanied youth—40% of which are estimated to be LGBTQ+—from accessing shelters. Keith is committed to being a Mayor that listens more and talks less. The LGBTQ+ community, as all marginalized communities, should have the right and opportunity to drive the conversation on issues that affect their lives as we work to create an Oʻahu that protects and respects everyone.
LGBTQ+ residents need their government to make the promise of equality real. They deserve leaders committed to policies that will protect, empower, and uplift. As a starting point, Keith believes the City should create a Commission on the Status of the LGBTQ+ Community, fund dedicated housing opportunities with social services for Hawaiʻi’s LGBTQ+ homeless youth and seniors, work with law enforcement to ensure better data collection for hate crimes, and ensure that City appointments reflect the true diversity of our island community, including the voices of the LGBTQ+ community.
Gender equality is a defining issue of this generation, and Keith is of a generation that is helping to navigate this wave of change. Old fashioned gender stereotypes and norms are being challenged every single day. And thanks especially to the efforts of young people, the mainstream is abandoning the mindsets of generations past to ensure that the girls of today have the same opportunities as boys.
President Trump and his misogynistic allies are trying to set back the clock on women’s rights. Every day, they are telling women to get back in their place, the same roles they remember from the old days. Their sexist views are crystal clear and they are dangerous.
Keith’s views are also crystal clear. Keith supports women. He supports equal pay, a woman’s right to choose, an end to violence against women, an end to the silence that keeps women down, and the vision of an island where women and men are truly equal. Keith supports the Mayor’s Committee on the Status of Women and would elevate its work to fight discrimination and sex trafficking.
As a longtime supporter of the Domestic Violence Action Center, Keith has learned much about the issues and would bring parties together and commit more resources to addressing the serious and growing problem of violence against women. By seeking out women and other underrepresented groups to fill critical leadership roles, Keith will not only ensure diverse representation, he will also make sure that no artificial barriers keep the most qualified people from serving in his administration.