Dela Cruz was born on July 6, 1973, in Wahiawa. He attended Wahiawa Elementary School and graduated from Leilehua High School in 1991. He earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and communications at the University of Oregon in 1995.
Dela Cruz started his political career as the chairman of the Wahiawa neighborhood board. In 2002, he was elected as councilman for the City and County of Honolulu, representing District 2, from Mililani and Wahiawa to the North Shore. He was appointed the youngest council chairman in history and served in that position from 2003 to 2007.
In the 2017 state Senate session he was vice chair of the Ways and Means Committee and will serve as chairman in 2018. The Ways and Means chair is considered a stepping stone to president of the Senate.
He sat on the city Council’s Executive Matters and Planning committees and was chair of the Public Safety and Services Committee, vice chair of the Public Infrastructure Committee and secretary of the Hawaii State Association of Counties.
Dela Cruz was a term-limited member of the Honolulu City Council. Before winning his state Senate seat in 2010, Dela Cruz had briefly been a candidate for mayor, a position left vacant when former mayor Mufi Hannemann resigned to run for governor.
Dela Cruz is an active member of the Filipino community. He was vice president of the Filipino Chamber of Commerce from 2001 to 2002 and received the Filipino Council of Hawaii Progress Award to excellence.
He co-authored three books about local culture: “The Okazu Guide,” “The Puka Guide” and “The Omiyage Guide.”
While on the council, Dela Cruz says he focused on safety, diversified agriculture, the environment, infrastructure and access to city government.
In 2008, Dela Cruz managed Ann Kobayashi‘s campaign for Honolulu mayor against Hannemann. The election was pushed to a runoff on Nov. 4, 2008. Hannemann won the runoff with 58 percent of the vote.