[ OUR OPINION ]
A new governor opens
the doors to possibilities
THE songs have been sung, the prayers and pomp are pau, the celebrations and toasts are over. Now Governor Lingle must roll up her sleeves and get to work. Judging from her inaugural address, she's ready to go.
Linda Lingle promises to accept ideas from all corners and to leave out no one.
Lingle appears undaunted by the myriad challenges the new administration faces. As she did throughout her campaign, Lingle in her speech yesterday emphasized improvements in the three E's: ethics in government, the economy and education. The Republican governor also was prudent in emphasizing her willingness to open her door to all comers regardless of party affiliation and interests. She extended olive branches everywhere, including to the Democrat-dominated Legislature and state employees.
On the economy, Lingle pledged a cooperative effort to enhance the climate for businesses and corporations. She praised educators who were not at the state Capitol for the inauguration because they were in the classrooms with their students. In rather sharp remarks, she pledged not to use friendship as a basis for awarding government contracts, as she contends had been done in the past. It won't matter "who you know, but what you know," she said.
Lingle is the first female governor of the state, but as she pointed out, she also is the first Hawaii governor to have served as a mayor. This bodes well for the leaders of the Big Island, Maui, Kauai and Oahu. Having seen the counties' short end of the revenue stick may spur Lingle toward changes in the way the state distributes money to the municipalities. Her perspective also may motivate an elimination of duplication of government services and reduce expenses and inefficiencies, which taxpayers would surely welcome.
What was clearly evident during yesterday's ceremonies was a sense of optimism among political and business leaders as well as the public. Great expectations are difficult to match, but Lingle should use the heady intoxication of possibilities to cultivate the roots of prosperity. The next four years hold promise.
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Case has advantage
in race for full term
DEMOCRAT Ed Case, who won a special election to complete the term of the late Patsy Mink in the U.S. House of Representatives, can afford to take but a few moments to enjoy his victory. In five weeks he'll have to do it all over again, and against some challengers more formidable that those he defeated Saturday.
He picks up a five-week stint in Congress, but will have to continue to campaign.
Case's capture of 51 percent of the vote indicates the strength of his campaign organization, which appeared to segue smoothly from the Democratic gubernatorial primary despite his loss to Mazie Hirono. It also speaks to his ability to attract voters, particularly in this contest where the longtime congresswoman's husband, John Mink, had a sentimental advantage.
Case will need to keep his organization in high gear if he hopes to gather enough votes for a full term. In the Jan. 4 election, he will go up against Matt Matsunaga, the son of the late U.S. Sen. Spark Matsunaga, for whom Case worked in Washington in the late 1970s. Matt Matsunaga won the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor in September with more than 99,000 votes, an overwhelming total indicative of his popularity and name recognition. Among the other 42 candidates Case will confront are Republican state Rep. Barbara Marumoto and Democratic state Sen. Colleen Hanabusa. However, both are generally unfamiliar to the neighbor island voters.
Turnout for the election was, as expected, dismal. Only 13.3 percent, or 46,216, of the 347,922 registered voters cast ballots. Although not all of them were eligible voters, more people showed up at Aloha Stadium for the UH-Alabama football game than at the polls. Christmas shopping and other distractions also contributed to the low turnout.
The post-holiday special election and the higher number of notable candidates likely will draw more voters in January. Case heads into that contest with a definite advantage. He can legitimately claim the title of congressman, but he should not count on an easy win for a full term.
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