Mayoral candidate Keith Amemiya has secured endorsements from the majority of sitting Honolulu City Council members.

His campaign announced on Tuesday that Council Chair Ikaika Anderson and Councilmen Joey Manahan, Brandon Elefante and Tommy Waters are all backing the former insurance executive and nonprofit leader. The announcement follows an endorsement last month from Councilwoman Kym Pine.

“One can only serve the community if they know the needs of the community. Keith has been there with our residents and is already working with them to come up with creative solutions,” Waters said in a statement. “Keith listens more and gets things done. He’s done it for our communities before and he will do it again as mayor.”

Honolulu Mayoral Candidate Keith Amemiya with left, wife Bonny Amemiya and son, Christopher Amemiya on the corner of Punchbowl and Beretania Street. August 8, 2020
The council members join a long list of labor unions in supporting Keith Amemiya for mayor.  Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2020

Anderson said Amemiya will approach the job with “humility, integrity and purpose” unlike his challenger, former Hawaii News Now manager Rick Blangiardi.

“If our opponent the CEO thinks he’s going to come into Honolulu Hale and whip the bureaucrats into shape, he has another thing coming to him,” Anderson said. “Strong arm tactics sound good on television but they don’t work in reality.  Keith, on the other hand, will approach the job of Mayor the same way he does everything: with humility, integrity, and purpose.”

In a statement, Elefante said voters will find Amemiya relatable because he’s a “local boy and family man who grew up with the values of Hawaii.”

“His empathy for people and his understanding of everyday quality of life issues will be at the heart of his actions and decisions,” he said.

Communities that have been devastated by COVID-19 – like Kalihi, which he represents – need special attention during the pandemic, Manahan said, and he believes Amemiya has the compassion to help.

“Keith will ensure there is equity in every government response and in our city services, so the needs of our most vulnerable communities are met,” Manahan said.

The endorsements don’t necessarily mean that Amemiya will have the support of a council majority if he’s elected. Anderson is stepping down from his post this month, and Manahan and Pine are both term-limited and complete their service in early January. Three council races will be on the November ballot. 

With the council members’ backing, Amemiya said he feels the weight of responsibility from their constituents across the island.

“I promise to continue learning from them and earning their trust,” he said in a statement. “The challenges of this pandemic are severe, but I have faith in the people of Hawaii. We will emerge stronger than before.”

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