Gov. Linda Lingle walked around shaking hands at Magic Island toward the end of her inauguration party on Dec. 3.

Lingle’s campaign
shook up isle politics

Lingle plans informal lobbying

By Pat Omandam

Webster's New World Dictionary defines "difference" in part as, "A determining point or factor that makes for a distinct change or contrast."

Ten who made a difference
The Star-Bulletin is spotlighting 10 people who have made a difference in the community during 2002. This year's 10 is a diverse group but all have one thing in common: Each had a devotion to their cause and made a profound impact on Hawaii.

That certainly could describe Linda Lingle.

Attracting a celebrity-like following anchored by a campaign theme of "A New Beginning," the 49-year-old, newly elected Hawaii governor tops the Honolulu Star-Bulletin's annual list of "10 Who Made A Difference" in 2002. Here's why:

The St. Louis, Mo., native is the first woman and first former county mayor to win the Hawaii governor's seat.

Moreover, Lingle is the first Republican to hold the state's top post since William Quinn in 1962, a feat that made politicos nationwide finally give more than a cursory check of Hawaii's elections as Democrats lost their 40-year grip on the governor's seat.

Lingle came close to capturing the job in 1998 after a narrow defeat to Democrat incumbent Ben Cayetano. Since then, she's worked to re-energize the Republican Party of Hawaii and build a stronger two-party system in the state.

In the nearly three weeks that she has been governor, the master swimmer has done more than tread water; her collaborative approach toward selecting Cabinet members has attracted more than a thousand resumes.

Already, Lingle has named Cabinet members from nearly every island. And she plans to announce in the next few weeks new investments to Hawaii brought on because of the new administration.

Finally, there is renewed hope she will make a difference from at least the majority of island voters who swept her into office. Her popularity was apparent at her inauguration events, where thousands of people joined Lingle and Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona as they were sworn in.

In her Dec. 2 inauguration speech, Lingle pledged an end to the "help your friends, hurt your enemies" attitude that prevailed in state government.

She reached out to state workers, promising not to cut their jobs but demanding the state deliver better services with a better attitude.

Her main goals are to restore integrity in state government, expand and diversify the economy, and improve public education.

"We will spend every day doing just that," she said.

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