Former mayoral candidate Keith Amemiya is now running in the crowded Democratic field for lieutenant governor in 2022.
“Our state has been lacking leadership for years and it needs to change,” Amemiya told the Honolulu Star- Advertiser.
He called the lieutenant governor’s office “an important position that … can make a positive impact on people across the state.”
Amemiya lost the nonpartisan race for Honolulu mayor last year against Rick Blangiardi. But Amemiya said he was encouraged that 149,735 Oahu voters picked him in the mayor’s race, compared to the 157,879 Oahu votes cast for all of the five lieutenant governor candidates combined in the Democratic primary.
Both Amemiya and Blangiardi campaigned as first-time candidates with a government outsider’s perspective and emerged from an initial pack of 15 primary candidates that included former U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, former Mayor Mufi Hannemann and then-City Councilwoman Kym Pine.
“The voters are looking for candidates that have a fresh and different perspective than the longtime politicians,” Amemiya said about the 2022 elections. “And they’re looking for people who are problem solvers that can build consensus and get the job done.
“My role would be to support the governor and his or her initiatives. There are so many challenges that our state is facing that no one person can do it by themselves.”
He named affordable housing, diversifying the economy and supporting public education as key issues he would focus on.
Amemiya became a household name among island sports families as the Hawaii High School Athletic Association executive director. He counts accomplishments including helping to raise money for school programs and bringing together factions to create a statewide high school football championship.
Amemiya is now executive director of the Central Pacific Bank Foundation, the nonprofit arm of Central Pacific Bank.
He and wife, Bonny, have a son in college.
The winner of the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor needs only to generate a plurality of voters to go on to the general election in November 2022.
The open seat for lieutenant governor so far has attracted former state Sen. Jill Tokuda, who represented the Windward side and lost to current Lt. Gov. Josh Green in the 2018 Democratic primary; former City Council Chairman Ikaika Anderson, who resigned his Windward Council seat in 2020 three months before his term was to end; state Rep. Sylvia Luke (D, Punchbowl-Pauoa-Nuuanu), who serves as chairwoman of the powerful House Finance Committee; and Sherry Menor- McNamara, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii.
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