Tag Archives: Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative

The Power of Words: Mightier Than The Sword?

Linda Lingle has been the founder of a community newspaper, a right-leaning governor of a left-leaning state, and now, a professor of political science at California State University, Northridge.

Her career has always been informed by her understanding that communication is one of the greatest tools of change, something she first noticed during the media coverage of the Watergate Scandal.

“I saw how the power of words could bring down the most powerful person,” Lingle said. “I really loved being a journalist and reporting on others, but I came to believe I could have a bigger impact.”

Lingle entered CSUN in 1971, when she started as a political science major, but graduated with a bachelor’s degree in print journalism. Upon graduating, she moved to Hawaii where she started her own paper, the Molokai Free Press, which was a prelude to her political career. “Starting my own community newspaper and publishing it for four years gave me my start in politics because I got to know people through that experience.”

Lingle says her political career really began when she approached a city council member about a problem: a drinking fountain at a community center for senior citizens was out of order. The council member “brushed aside” the issue, according to Lingle, which motivated her to run against him. She did, and she won. Later, she became the first female mayor of Maui County and eventually, the first female governor of the state.

Lingle saw the press and social media as a way to reach out to the people she represented. “I would get the media in advance of the ideas I was going to put forward,” she said. “I sat down with leadership of the local newspapers and talked with them in advance.”

“Being a journalist has been an advantage because it taught me how to process information, absorb, get to essence and see both sides of an issue,” Lingle said. “That helped me a lot in Hawaii, being republican in a very democratic state.”

Lingle was the first Republican governor of the state in 40 years. “I describe myself as a bleeding heart conservative,” she said, “because I care very deeply for those in society who can’t care for themselves.”

She focused on homeless and mental health issues, and said she campaigned on the basis of community and the future of the state. While governor, she adopted a historic agreement called the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative. In 2030 ,Hawaii will be 70 percent clean energy reliant. Lingle said she got the federal government involved in the project by getting Hawaii’s Democrat representatives to work with her.

“This country is getting more diverse,” Lingle said. “I don’t think you’ll be able to win an election in our country if you’re not able to appeal to different backgrounds.”

For now, Lingle is focused on her work here at CSUN. “I don’t know what comes next, but I’m really enjoying this experience.”

Moderator/producer: Colin Newton

Digital content editors: Jamie Gonzaga and Judith Retana

Reporters: Mahina Haina, Nelssie Carillo, Hannah Townsley and Adam Schumes

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