When David Ige visited the Civil Beat recording room during the gubernatorial election campaign, it quickly became clear that he wasn’t very comfortable talking about himself.

His comfort zone includes demonstrating a grasp of the inner workings of the Legislature and dissecting education policy. But after some coaxing, the very discreet man who is now Hawaii’s governor-elect did open up.

He talked about what led him to get involved in politics nearly three decades ago, his technique for remaining grounded in the political sphere and how his commitments as a father may have slowed his political career.

Ige also spoke about how he dealt with a challenging decision early in life and about why high school plays such a crucial part in personal and political identities in Hawaii.

Sen. David Ige speaks at campaign rally held at Mililani High School on March 19, 2014.

Then-gubernatorial candidate Sen. David Ige speaks at campaign rally held at Mililani High School on March 19, 2014. (Press play on the audio bar below to hear the recent interview.)

PF Bentley/Civil Beat


Here are a couple of highlights from the most recent recording:

“I would not have been involved in politics and probably wouldn’t have decided to run for elected office if it wasn’t for Gov. (George) Ariyoshi appointing me (to a vacant state House seat in 1985). But I could see how being an elected official meant that you had the opportunity to have a bigger impact on the quality of life here in Hawaii. As a legislator, you could change the direction of the state … and communities by being able to advocate for good projects and programs, or good policies and laws. That’s what drove me to run for election and re-election for the last 29 years.”

“I really did feel though that I was always an engineer and a business person first, and I made it a priority to be committed to that as my profession because I believe that it gave me better depth and breadth to be a public servant. And that also meant that I was not going to sacrifice my responsibilities as a father and a husband because those were even higher priorities in my mind, and so I didn’t accept leadership positions early on in my career because I did want to be soccer dad and a ballet dad.”

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