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Special coverage of the 2020 general election airs and streams on Hawaii Public Radio beginning Tuesday, Nov. 3, at 2 p.m. Hear NPR analysis and local insights into the results and the aftermath airing on HPR-1 and streaming on and our mobile app.

Sit-Down With Candidates For Honolulu Mayor: Keith Amemiya

Amemiya Mayor 20/20 Campaign Site
Mayoral candidate Keith Amemiya

Voters on Oahu will elect a new mayor in 2020. HPR will be sitting down with mayoral hopefuls to discuss their top concerns and why they want the job.

Keith Amemiya is one of several candidates running as an outsider. He has previously worked as an attorney, head of the state high school athletic association, and an insurance company executive. With that background in mind, Amemiya describes himself as “not a politician.”

“I'm running for mayor because we need change. We need leadership and we need to restore trust in government,” he says. “The kind of leadership that existed before COVID is no longer effective. It didn't work before and it's certainly not going to work now.”

With double digit unemployment in most Oahu communities, Amemiya says, his main focus in the campaign is what he calls “a healthy recovery,” which he breaks into three categories: people, the economy, and the environment.   

“In terms of people, we need to ensure everyone stays safe and health,” he elaborates. “We need to ensure that the virus spread stays to a minimum. We also need to make sure that when we fully open, we take care of our workers' health and safety. In terms of the economy, COVID has taught us that we can't go back to the same way that things were before. It means not going back to our over reliance on tourism.”

Specifically, Amemiya says he would like to focus resources on increasing economic output from the agriculture and renewable energy sectors. When asked why voters should chose him, he leans into his status as a political outsider.

“As a first-time candidate, I'm not beholden to any traditional notions of how to do things. I'm more open-minded, I'm more innovative. I have a broad-based skill set that you need in an effective mayor. I have business, government, and non-profit experience. I want to bring in people that care about their community, but haven't been involved in politics until now. The public is not looking for the same politicians. They're looking for people with new ideas. They want change and I feel I'm the best person for that job.”

Amemiya faces several other candidates who have also positioned themselves as outsiders, with little prior experience in politics.  

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