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Linda Lingle elected Governor of Hawaii

November 5, 2002
Linda Lingle
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Linda Lingle, first woman Governor of Hawaii. This photo is in the public domain.

After over 20 years in elected public life, Linda Lingle was elected as Hawaii's first female and first Jewish governor on November 5, 2002. Lingle and former Vermont Governor Madeleine Kunin are the only Jewish women governors in U.S. history.

Lingle, a St. Louis native, moved to Hawaii after graduating from California State University at Northridge. She began working as the public information officer for the Hawaii Teamsters and Hotel Workers Union in Honolulu. In 1976, she founded and became publisher of the Molokai Free Press, intended to serve Molokai's 6,000 residents.

In 1980 Lingle was elected to the Maui County Council where she served for ten years. In 1990 she was elected Maui County Mayor, the youngest person and first woman to ever hold that role.

Lingle first ran for governor in 1998 but lost by less than one percent of the vote. In 2002 Lingle, a Republican, won the election by more than four percent. She was reelected in 2006. As governor, Lingle has worked to balance the state budget and promote tourism, while improving the quality of life by fighting crime and drug abuse and increasing accessibility to quality health care and education. She has made strengthening relationships with Hawaii's Asia-Pacific neighbors one of the central efforts of her administration.

In May 2004, Lingle signed a Memorandum of Understanding between the state of Hawaii and the government of Israel to encourage cooperation concerning agriculture and aquaculture research and development. “[Being Jewish has] helped my political career in Hawaii,” says Lingle, “because it has given me a better understanding of diversity, which in turn helps me to connect with citizens of varying religious and ethnic backgrounds.” Linda Lingle served as Governor until December 6, 2010.

To learn more about Linda Lingle, visit Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia.

See also: Jewish Women in Politics; Outraged: Linda Lingle vetoes Civil Unions bill and compares gay marriage to incest and Milestones for Jewesses in politics, Jewesses with Attitude.

Source: Hilary L. Krieger, "Island Tales," Jerusalem Post Magazine, Dec. 27, 2002; Lifestyles, June 2003; hawaii.gov/gov/governor/biography.

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Jewish Women's Archive. "This Week in History - Linda Lingle elected Governor of Hawaii." (Viewed on April 16, 2014) <http://jwa.org/thisweek/nov/05/2002/linda-lingle>.