Linda Lingle is sworn into office late this morning at the state Capitol by Chief Justice Ronald Moon. Lingle's father, Richard Cutter, held the Hebrew-English Tanakh, or Holy Scripture.


Taking charge of the reins of state | Taking his place on the historic team

The new boss
The leader of the state
Governor Lingle's Inaugural address

Linda Lingle and father, Richard Cutter.

Taking charge of the
reins of state

By Richard Borreca

BEFORE CROWDS estimated at up to 6,000, Linda Lingle was sworn in today as Hawaii's sixth elected governor, the first woman to lead the state.

She is also the first Republican in 40 years to hold the keys to one of the most powerful executive chambers in the nation. Standing with her father, Richard Cutter, Lingle placed her hand on a Hebrew-English Tanakh and was sworn in by Chief Justice Ronald Moon.

Former family court judge James "Duke" Aiona, who has never held elective office before, also took the oath of office as lieutenant governor, during the midday ceremonies at the state Capitol.

In her inauguration speech, Lingle declared Hawaii "is open for business."

Acknowledging that the state's economy is fragile, Lingle said she wants both investment by new businesses and respect for existing ones.

"It's time that we recognized that profit is not a dirty word," Lingle said in her speech.

"The 'open for business' sign has now been turned on and the welcome mat is out to anyone willing to support our efforts to strengthen and diversify Hawaii's economy while honoring our island traditions and protecting our fragile environment," Lingle said.

In his speech, Lt. Gov. Aiona stressed the need for the state to work with families.

"We cannot allow the erosion of the family unit," Aiona said.

Lingle, too, spoke of the importance of the family and of improving Hawaii's schools, saying, "We must provide all children a learning environment that is safe and free from bullying and drugs."

Kahuku High School Band members enjoyed the festivities.

She added that she wants Hawaii's teachers to "be knowledgeable in the subject they are teaching and that parents be assured that, at a minimum, their children are learning the basics."

Lingle, who was supported by the university professors' union and the police officers' labor organization, was opposed by the rest of organized labor in Hawaii. But today she repeated her pledge not to lay off any existing state workers in order to balance the budget.

"I have committed not to lay off any current workers, but I have also promised the public that we will do things in new ways that deliver better services with a better attitude. And, just as I will live up to my promise to you, so must I deliver on my promise to the public," Lingle said.

Finally, Lingle promised to run an open administration and despite not being in power for four decades, the new GOP will not punish the Democrats in state government.

"A 'New Beginning' means zero tolerance for political rewards and retribution. It means that people who campaigned against us are also invited to join Lt. Gov. Aiona and me in serving the people of Hawaii to the best of our abilities," Lingle said.

"As of this moment, anyone who cares about Hawaii and wants to contribute is a friend of this administration."

James "Duke" Aiona Jr. escorted his wife, Vivian.

Taking his place
on the historic team

By Pat Omandam

It was a midsummer's day, and workers in James R. "Duke" Aiona Jr.'s campaign struggled to get the sound system working on their float for the annual Fourth of July parade in Kailua.

First the fuse burnt out. Then the CD player didn't have enough outage. And they used the wrong power cord. There were just minutes left before the parade began.

"Here we are at the day of the parade, and the thing doesn't work," recalled Aiona, who wanted a blaring, rock 'n' roll-themed float -- topped off with an Elvis figurehead -- to impress parade-watchers and draw attention to his bid for lieutenant governor.

It was a now-or-never moment for his novice campaign, and somehow someone managed to get the music blaring just in time. To Aiona, however, it wasn't blind luck.

"It's a miracle it happened," Aiona said in a recent interview. "That was probably one of the first ones, saying the good Lord is looking out for us."

Lt. Gov.-elect Aiona, 47, will be sworn in today alongside Gov.-elect Linda Lingle. They are the first Republican team to lead the state in 40 years.

Aiona, a devout Catholic and former state judge, said there were other "little miracles" along the campaign trail that convinced him that he would rise to the second-highest post in the state.

"We believe that God has a plan. We don't control our lives, and whatever God wants us to do, we're going to do," said the 1973 St. Louis High School graduate.

Another miracle, he said, was his campaign manager and longtime friend George Lindsey, who re-plotted the course of the campaign a month after it began. Lindsey will serve as Aiona's chief of staff.

Nicknamed after the old Brooklyn Dodger baseball player Duke Snyder, Aiona said he never considered a run for public office until this race even though he has a degree in political science. He said it was only after he retired as a state circuit judge in 1998 that local Democratic and Republican officials urged him to run.

It wasn't until late 2000 when Aiona gave it serious thought. His wife, the former Vivian Welsh, a longtime Canadian Air employee he met in 1977 at a dance in Waikiki, believed spiritually it was a journey he had to undertake.

But Aiona's own pastor and his mother were opposed to it at first.

"He just didn't want me to do it. My mom didn't want me to; that was one of the hardest sales," he said.

The state's new second family lives in the Villages of Kapolei and has four children: Makana, 20, an engineering major at the University of Washington; Ohulani, 16, a senior at Kamehameha Schools; Kulia, 13, a St. Louis student; and Kaimilani, 9, who attends Maryknoll School.

Aiona regularly cooks breakfast for the family and shares car-pool duties with a friend and neighbor. He said his family understood the different role they had in the community while he served as a judge, and he is confident they will continue to do so when he is lieutenant governor.

Aiona grew up in Pearl City and has been an athlete all his life, playing college basketball at the University of the Pacific. Today, he is an assistant varsity basketball coach at St. Louis School, a job he intends to keep.

"I have just as much input as if I were a head coach. I'm very much involved in this. That's why I want to continue and will continue as long as I can," he said. "That's the same way I feel right now with Linda. My input is received, it's considered and it's taken."

Already, Aiona promises to do more in office than his predecessors, and he has specific areas of advocacy: public safety and Hawaiian issues.

Aiona served as administrative judge of the state's Drug Court programs and has become the point man for Lingle on public safety.

Aiona said he is also knowledgeable about issues facing native Hawaiians.

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