First-time politician Keith Amemiya officially filed his paperwork to run for mayor of Honolulu this year, nine months after first announcing his campaign.

“I’m running for mayor because we need change. We need new leadership, new ideas, and we need to restore trust in government,” he said.

“COVID-19 has taught us that things will never be the same — the same people, the same ideas, and the same type of leadership and political experience won’t work,” he said.

What will work, he said, is someone fresh to politics like himself. He is a lawyer, local business executive and community leader perhaps best known for formerly leading the Hawaii High School Athletic Association.

Keith Amemiya outside Honolulu Hale after officially filing to run for Honolulu mayor. He is joined by his wife Bonny and their son Chris. Chad Blair/Civil Beat

Asked whether the City and County of Honolulu had fallen short or done OK in its response to the coronavirus, Amemiya called it “an unprecedented situation, a difficult situation for everyone. I know the city and the state are doing their best.”

He gave them credit for curbing the spread of the virus.

Asked about when the economy should reopen — especially tourism — he said, “It’s hard because it’s an ever-evolving situation. Obviously, the sooner we can open the economy, the better. But that depends on the amount of the spread, whether we are able to contain the spread, and whether we will be able to do sufficient testing and contact tracing.”

Amemiya faces former television executive Rick Blangiardi, former Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa, current Honolulu City Councilwoman Kym Pine and several other candidates.

The deadline to file is Tuesday. The primary is Aug. 8

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