The Governor’s Office
The Governor’s authority is derived from Article V of the Constitution of the State of Hawaii.
The Governor is the commander-in-chief of the state’s armed forces and oversees all state departments. In addition, the Governor nominates the head of those departments, and that person’s name is forwarded to the Senate, which votes on his or her confirmation.
At the beginning of each legislative session, the Governor must report on the affairs of state and provide leadership by putting forth recommendations and initiatives through the State of the State Address.
It is also within the Governor’s power to grant pardons or commute sentences, as well as form commissions and temporary agencies.
To be eligible to serve as Governor, a person must be a qualified voter, be at least 30 years old and have been a resident of Hawaii for at least five years. A Governor is limited to serving two four-year terms. The Lieutenant Governor observes the same qualifications and restrictions.
When Hawaii was still a territory of the United States, the governors of the state were appointed by the President. Governors have been elected since 1959 when Hawaii became the 50th state of the union.
The Executive Chambers
The Executive Chambers are on the fifth floor of the Hawaii State Capitol. The Governor’s chambers are on the Diamond Head side of the rotunda, while the Lieutenant Governor’s offices are on the Ewa side.
Eight panels cover each of the two entrance doors to the Executive Chambers. The panels represent the eight main islands in the state.
The Executive Chambers of the Governor’s office are paneled with koa wood. In the lobby of the chambers are large display cabinets containing numerous articles presented to the state, including Native Hawaiian artifacts, gifts from foreign countries, commendations and Space Shuttle memorabilia.
Straight ahead is the Governor’s ceremonial room, where news conferences, formal bill signings and other events are held. Portraits of recent governors hang in this room.
Sanford B. Dole was the first governor of Hawaii, serving from 1900 to 1903. He was born in Honolulu in 1844 of missionary parents and then went to the mainland to obtain his education. Dole returned to Hawai`i and became involved in public life. After the Republic of Hawaii was established, he became its first president. When the U.S. established Hawaii as a territory, Dole was named governor. He resigned as governor to fill a justice position in federal court.
Walter F. Frear was Hawaii’s third governor. He served from 1907 to 1913. Frear was also a former chief justice of the Supreme Court. The focus in his administration was on homesteading and public works. During his administration the U.S. approved funds to begin building a naval base in Hawaii that would be known as Pearl Harbor.
Hawaii’s fourth governor was Lucius E. Pinkham. He was the former president of the Board of Health and served from 1913 to 1918. During his administration, Pinkham dealt with problems related to World War I. Pinkham was the first Democrat to hold this office.
Charles J. McCarthy was appointed Hawaii’s fifth governor by President Woodrow Wilson. The popular former territorial treasurer was described as “genial and straightforward” and served from 1918 to 1921. He was in favor of statehood for Hawaii.
Wallace R. Farrington was appointed Hawaii’s sixth governor by President Calvin Coolidge, serving from 1921 to 1929. During his tenure, Congress passed the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, which aimed at returning native Hawaiians to the land.
The next governor was Lawrence M. Judd, who was appointed by President Herbert Hoover and served from 1929 to 1934. The stock market crash of 1929 affected Hawaii, which prompted Judd to cut down on expenses in Hawaii.
Joseph B. Poindexter was Hawaii’s eighth governor. A former federal judge, he served from 1934 to 1942. Poindexter spent the first four years in office dealing with the Great Depression. Also while Poindexter was in office, Congress passed the Jones-Costigan Sugar Control Act to limit the overproduction of sugar.
The next governor was Ingram M. Stainback. He served Hawaii from 1942 to 1951. Stainback, who was also a judge, warned people about the dangers of Communism and claimed there was a plan by Communists to seize the territory.
William F. Quinn was the first-elected governor of Hawaii. He was also the last appointed governor. President Dwight Eisenhower appointed Quinn to the position in 1957. Quinn served as governor from 1957 to 1962. His tenure was marked by events such as the sugar strike of 1958, statehood in 1959 and the tsunami of 1960.
John Burns was the next elected governor of the state. He challenged Quinn for the governorship in the first election, and came back to win the highest state seat in 1962. He served until 1974. Burns was a police captain with the Honolulu Police Department prior to entering politics.
George Ariyoshi became governor in 1974 and served until 1986. The first governor of Japanese-American ancestry, Ariyoshi is remembered for guiding the state through its first economic recession after the post-economic boom of statehood.
John Waihee, who served as governor from 1986 to 1994, was the first native Hawaiian elected as the state’s chief executive. He came into office when the economy was booming from foreign investment in real estate.
Benjamin Cayetano served as governor from 1994 to 2002. He was the nation’s first Filipino-American governor. Cayetano served as lieutenant governor under Waihee and was a private attorney prior to entering politics.
Linda Lingle was the sixth Governor of Hawaii, serving from 2002 to 2010. She was the first mayor, first woman and first person of Jewish ancestry to be Governor. She was also the first Republican to lead the Aloha State in more than 40 years.