Lingle says Hawaii needs bi-partisan representative

Published On: Oct 29 2012 06:57:00 PM HST

It would top a career that's broken barriers and brought a needed voice to Hawaii politics. 

"My first issue was a broken drinking fountain at the senior citizen center that's what got me into politics," said former Governor Linda Lingle.

Decades later, the young woman who started the Molokai Free Press, and fought for that drinking fountain, has a resume that's covered the scope of Hawaii politics, showing she can beat the odds time and time again as a Republican in a heavily Democratic state.

"It was people saying we'll trust you and see how you do," said Lingle.

By 2002, after years as a council member, and two terms as Maui's mayor, she became the first female governor in Hawaii and the first republican in that seat in 40 years.

"People look beyond the party label and look to the things I stood for," she told KITV4 reporter Lara Yamada.

Though she's caught heat for issues such as same-sex marriage, the demise of the super ferry, and furlough Fridays, she takes great pride in pulling the state through the 2008 economic collapse, closing a multi-billion dollar gap in state revenue, and the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, that she said, generated support across party lines.

"I think it was an example of what a community can do when it pulls together and doesn't care about who gets credit, doesn't care about what your party is, but just what's best for our state, not just today, but over the long term," said Lingle.

Lingle turned reflective talking about her unfinished wish-list as governor, for one, helping incarcerated women and the families they left behind.

"Having a facility that could bring the community in to help them, I think, would give them a lot of hope that someone cared about them as a person as an individual," she said.

She says her family and her supporters have carried her through her successful yet challenging career knowing the sacrifices required.

"I also have to spend more time with my cats. There not very happy right now," laughed Lingle.

Now, in her bid for U.S. Senator, preserving Medicare, social security and the Akaka Bill are of the many issues on her mind, as the woman who fought for that drinking fountain finds her voice for Hawaii yet again.

"Well, in the end, politics is just about people.  I'm in it because I just want to try and make life better for people."


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