The Rafu Shimpo recently caught up with Ken Inouye, who is running for Huntington Beach City Council in the Nov. 8 election. Inouye is a longtime leader in the Japanese American Citizens League and the founding chair of the Huntington Beach Human Relations Committee.
Rafu: Why did you decide to run for Huntington Beach City Council?
Ken Inouye: As a 50-year resident of Huntington Beach, I was concerned about the amount of vitriol and anger that had been exhibited at City Council meetings as the City Council addressed the major issues facing the city (see Question 3). As the founding chair of the Huntington Beach Human Relations Task Force, I had worked with the residents of Huntington Beach and I know that the current drama exhibited at the City Council meetings does not represent the values of the vast majority of residents who live in Huntington Beach.
Rafu: What are the skills you would bring to the Huntington Beach City Council and what is your style of governing?
KI: As an individual who has a lifetime of experience in community building (I have been the president of community service organizations at the national level (Japanese American Citizens League), state level (California Association of Human Relations Organizations), county (Orange County Human Relations Commission) and city level (Huntington Beach Human Relations Task Force), I am hoping to create a city-wide environment where differences of opinion are respected, community input is valued/solicited as the City Council moves the city forward.
As a lifetime business owner and certified public accountant, I would bring my financial skills to the City Council to help develop/monitor the finances of the city. Given the many financial challenges facing the city, I believe that my finance background will allow the City Council to make informed decisions with regard to financial matters.
Rafu: What are the big issues facing Huntington Beach?
KI: The implementation of the State Regional Housing Needs Assessment plan (RHNA). As a City Council member, I would advocate for the city to develop a citywide plan (with input from all stakeholders) which will allow the Huntington Beach community to meet the requirements of the RHNA and which would welcome the new residents to Huntington Beach while at the same time protecting the quality of life for current residents.
As a member of the Huntington Beach City Council, I would help to develop meaningful budgets while at the same time monitoring the current revenues and expenses in order to help ensure that the city is being run with fiscal responsibility.
Since the city is built on old oil fields, I would ask the city of make an assessment of potential health hazards that could develop if the city were to experience an earthquake and the potential hazards that could result if the sea level were to rise due to global warming.
Rafu: How has the rise in anti-Asian hate impacted Huntington Beach, what have you done as a civil rights leader to deal with this issue, and what would you do on the City Council?
KI: Unfortunately, the city of Huntington Beach has experienced an increase in hate crimes/incidents against Asian Americans. As a former chair of the Orange County Human Relations Commission, I had the opportunity to work with the Orange County Board of Supervisors as the supervisors (special thank you to Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett) as they allocated over $1 million to create a county-wide network to report/respond to hate crimes in Orange County.
As a member of the Huntington Beach City Council, I would actively support the City`s Human Relations Commission as they create programs which promote respect and understanding within the city. Unfortunately, fighting racism is like maintaining a garden. If a city is not vigilant in monitoring hate crimes, the hate crimes will return much like weeds will overrun a garden that is not taken care of.
Rafu: Why is it important for Asian Americans to be involved in the political process, as both candidates and voters?
KI: I believe that Asian Americans, like all Americans, should get involved in the political process at all levels. If Americans get involved and elect leaders who understand the principles of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, we can have an America which will live up to its promise of “liberty and justice for all.”
A realistic assessment of the current political realities would correctly say that we have much work to do and that is why I decided to run for Huntington Beach City Council. All change occurs one step at a time. The political climate will change if we all do our part by getting involved in the political process and if some of you get involved in the political process by running for office. Together we can take back our government, as we help to move it forward in a meaningful and respectful manner.
For more information on Inouye, visit http://Kenneth4hbcc.com.