LINDA LINGLE is a native of St. Louis, Missouri. She moved to Hawai‘i in 1975 after graduating cum laude with a journalism degree from California State University, Northridge. In 1976, she founded and served as editor and publisher of the Moloka‘i Free Press. She first served the people of Hawai‘i from 1980 to 1990 as a member of the Maui County Council, including six years representing the island of Moloka‘i. In 1990, she was elected Mayor of Maui County and served two four-year terms.
Lingle became Governor of Hawai’i in 2002, committed to bringing about a “New Beginning” for Hawai‘i by making state government more transparent, responsive, and accountable. She was reelected to a second four-year term in November 2006.
Lingle’s administration sought to improve Hawai‘i residents’ unique quality of life and protect the state’s natural resources by reducing the economy’s over-dependence on land development. Toward this end, Lingle launched the Hawai‘i Innovation Initiative to develop the capacity of residents and businesses to innovate with the goal of enabling the state to compete in the global economy of the 21st century and create new, higher-paying jobs.
Lingle also pursued greater energy independence, targeted tax relief, an increase in Hawai‘i’s homegrown food supply and security, workforce development, expansion of quality health care, creation of more affordable housing, modernization of the transportation infrastructure, and bolstering of public safety and disaster preparedness.
Lingle was the first Republican and first woman to lead the Aloha State in more than 40 years. She is also the first former mayor, first neighbor island resident, and first person of Jewish ancestry to hold the position. In 2005, she was awarded the Diversity Best Practices Award for Leadership in Government—the first such award for a state’s chief executive.