An excerpt from Star Advertiser Article - Sunday, July 27, 2014: "Democrats target sustainability, job creation" by B.J. Reyes
"...The race in the Democratic primary for House District 48 is shaping up into one of the closest contests of this primary season.
...Keohokalole, whose father was a construction worker and a district representative for the Operating Engineers Local 3, has drawn support from a cross-section of construction and development groups and labor unions, including the Operating Engineers, Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers, the Plasterers and Cement Masons, United Public Workers, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and International Longshore and Warehouse Union.
His campaign has pulled in $42,000 from January through June, with $29,000 still on hand and $2,900 in debt.
'I'm proud of the blue-collar endorsements that I've received,' Keohokalole said. 'I'm proud of my connection to labor. I think Kaneohe is a working-class community. That's why I hold signs at 5:30 in the morning, because there are a lot of construction workers.'
On construction and development, 'I think that we do need to look at how development is going to proceed going forward,' he added. 'Growth is a reality, and we need to address the affordable housing issue in our state.'
Aside from his work at DLNR, Keohokalole also has done policy work with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands. He is a former member of the Kaneohe Neighborhood Board and serves as an at-large member of the Hawaiian Affairs Caucus of the Democratic Party of Hawaii.
He cites the impact of 'brain drain' — the best and brightest from Hawaii leaving the state because of the high cost of living — as one of his top priorities.
'We're losing a big portion of not only our tax base, but our labor force and our local people,' he said.
Additionally, Keohokalole said he can identify with the people of the district. As the seventh generation of his family to live in the district, his ties run deep. And although he moved to the mainland for a short time, he returned because he wanted to raise his family in the community where he grew up.
Keohokalole attended King Intermediate and Saint Louis School before moving on to UH and the Richardson Law School.
'I live in Kahaluu now … I'm raising my kids here and going through a lot of the struggles as families in the district who are going to try and stay here and try and raise families here,' he said. 'So I think that I can relate to a lot of the issues and concerns of the residents of our district.'
His story and pursuits were attractive to the United Public Workers PAC, said Flo Kong Kee, a government affairs specialist for the union, which endorsed Keohokalole.
'The members felt that he represented the values that we find most important, which is family, ohana, and that he was going to not just be good for the district, but really to be good for Hawaii,' she said. 'When our members talked to him we had an opportunity to talk with him about what was important. One was creating opportunities for the next generation like his children … creating jobs so young people like him can not just stay here in Hawaii but be able to make a living to raise their children.'