Editor’s Note: This op-ed was written in response to a commentary by a Maui teacher titled “Lingle’s Record Does Speak For Itself

On November 6th the voters of Hawaii have an opportunity to elect a U.S. Senator with a record of accomplishment and a true commitment to the people of Hawaii, by shading in the box for Linda Lingle.

We have had the privilege of working with Governor Lingle for the eight years she was at the helm of our State and can personally assure Hawaii voters that based on our work experience with and knowledge of this leader, she is the finest, most talented and caring public servant we can entrust to represent our us in our nation’s Capital.

We would like to share a few examples why Linda Lingle is the leader we need for our next U.S. Senator.

Vision and leadership: Before “clean energy” became a household word, Linda Lingle envisioned Hawaii weaning itself off of foreign oil. She grasped the vulnerability of a State located in the middle of the Pacific that had to rely on oil tankers loaded with fossil fuels from countries that waiver in their support of our nation’s interests. She was well aware of the challenge ahead of her and knew it would take bold, steady action to move Hawaii toward energy independence.

That is why she launched the Energy for Tomorrow Initiative in 2006, followed shortly thereafter by the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative. Linda Lingle set the ambitious goal of 70% clean, renewable energy by 2030, convinced the State Legislature in a bipartisan way to put this goal into law, and then established the regulatory and economic framework that encouraged the “green jobs” we see today.. Many people played a key role in moving this vision forward including environmental partners, the Public Utilities Commission, the electric companies on each island, state officials, and the Legislature. But with the vision and leadership of Linda Lingle, clean energy became a reality, not a political talking point.

Courage and Conviction: Linda Lingle inherited nearly a quarter of a billion dollar gap in the State budget when she took office in December 2002. Rather than dwelling on who created the deficit, she and her new budget director, Georgina Kawamura, systematically reviewed the entire state balance sheet, pared unnecessary or duplicative expenditures, and turned the State’s red ink into a $730 billion surplus by 2006. This is an extraordinary achievement in less than four years.

When the crash of 2008 occurred, Linda Lingle used that same steady resolve to close what became a nearly $3 billion gap between projected State revenues and expenses. Everyone was asked to do their fair share, including taking furlough days, because doing so meant that almost all state workers could keep their jobs without drastic layoffs or closing down entire state agencies. These decisions were not easy, but Linda Lingle has the courage to make the tough choices. And she had the conviction to not increase taxes or jeopardize the State’s bond rating since those would have overly-burdened Hawaii’s working families and jeopardized public financing for major infrastructure improvement projects.

Care and Compassion: As Governor, Linda Lingle never forgot that many of the most vulnerable in Hawaii, the aged, young, those who are mentally ill, and the homeless, depend upon the State for help. Under her guidance the deplorable conditions in the State’s only hospital for the mentally ill were eliminated and Hawaii moved from 50th to 11th in the ranking of how States treat those with mental impairments.
Under Linda Lingle’s leadership the number of children in foster homes declined by almost half without an increase in abuse rates. Her Human Services Department worked tirelessly to find permanent, loving homes for these children.

Because Linda Lingle cares for those less fortunate, under her watch the State stepped in and built seven homeless shelters on Oahu. Linda Lingle also worked with the neighbor island mayors, including the late Bryan Baptiste to help them increase their capacity to shelter the homeless.

And her compassion for seniors was evidenced by the groundbreaking “Going Home” program that allowed low income elderly to live their later years in a community-based home setting, rather than a sterile institution. She also championed legislation to increase the number of adult day care facilities. And no one can forget that touching moment in 2009 when Linda Lingle changed the law to allow a dying husband and his loving wife, Mr. Sidney and Mrs. Terry Kaide of Hilo to be in the same care home during their final months together.

There are countless numbers of achievements that took place under Governor Lingle’s watch, but space prohibits us from writing more. Please go to http://www.thelingleyears.com to learn more.

Unfortunately, during political campaigns facts get distorted, and history will try to be rewritten, and some will even say that Linda Lingle is a different person. We’ve known her long enough to state she has the needs of the people of Hawaii first and foremost in every vote she would take and every proposal she would make in Washington DC. But that can only happen if you vote for Linda Lingle.

About the authors: Linda Smith was a private business owner, previously served as an administrative officer in the federal Office of Management and Budget, and was Gov. Lingle’s senior policy advisor from 2004-2010.

Barry Fukunaga served as a public servant in the City & County of Honolulu, then director of the State Department of Transportation before becoming Gov. Lingle’s Chief of Staff.

Ted Liu headed Morgan Stanley’s investment banking in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, prior to his service as director of the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism in Governor Lingle’s administration.

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