Linda LingleLinda Lingle (born June 4, 1953) was sworn in as the sixth Governor of the U.S. State of Hawaii in 2002. Lingle holds several distinctions: she is the first Republican governor to be elected in the state since 1962; she is the first female governor, and the first Jewish governor elected in the state.
Born in St. Louis, Missouri, her family moved to Southern California when she was 12. She graduated from Birmingham High School in Lake Balboa, California, then received her bachelor's degree in journalism cum laude from California State University at Northridge in 1975.
Soon after, she followed her father to Hawaii, working first in Honolulu as a public information officer for the Teamsters and Hotel Workers Union. Later, she moved to Molokai, where she started the Molokai Free Press, a community newspaper.
Then, in 1990, she was elected Mayor of Maui County, succeeding Republican mayor Hannibal Tavares. She became the youngest person and first woman to be elected to the office. She was re-elected to the office in 1994.
Under Mayor Lingle, Maui County implemented performance-based budgeting, earning her the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Officers Association for four years. Lingle is also credited for attracting tourism and job growth to Maui County during a time when the state tourism industry in general was struggling.
Barred from seeking a third term, Lingle ran for governor against incumbent Ben Cayetano, narrowly losing the election by one percentage point.
Lingle later served as chair of the state Republican Party from 1999 to 2002, where she is credited for greatly increasing Republican representation in the normally Democrat-dominated state Legislature. At its peak, the Republicans held 19 of the 51 seats in the State House of Representatives.
In 2002, Lingle once again ran for governor, facing Lieutentant Governor Mazie K. Hirono. Lingle was able to gain broad support, including the endorsements of several unions. In November, she was elected governor, with former state judge James Aiona as her lieutentant governor.