BY BARRY FUKUNAGA, RUSS SAITO AND GEORGINA KAWAMURA – We read with interest the decision by the Hawaii Democratic Party to deny Laura Thielen the chance to run for public office as a Democrat.
We had the privilege of working with Laura as fellow members of former Gov. Linda Lingle’s cabinet. Throughout the nearly four years Laura served as DLNR director, her political affiliation never came up.
In fact, Governor Lingle never asked anyone in her Administration what their political affiliation was. She appointed people based on their qualifications and expertise, commitment to serving the public, and doing what was in the best in interest of all the people of Hawaii – not their political party.
When first elected in 2002, she established search committees to find the most qualified candidates for her new cabinet. Many submitted resumes online, having never met Governor Lingle until their first interview with her. Of the 17 cabinet members in her first term, 11 had no previous connection to the Governor.
Throughout her two terms, Governor Lingle invited the public to apply for vacant positions and no one was ever asked about their political affiliations. Members of boards and commissions appointed by prior administrations were not asked to resign before their term expired, and many were re-appointed to another term.
Governor Lingle’s approach to picking the best people – like Laura Thielen – regardless of their political leanings, is indicative of her bipartisan leadership.
We know that if elected to the U.S. Senate, Governor Lingle will continue to work with people across party lines and serve the people of Hawaii and our nation in this same independent, bipartisan manner.
Under former Gov. Linda Lingle’s direction, Barry Fukunaga served as the chief of staff, Russ Saito as the former Department and Accounting and General Services director and Georgina Kawamura as the Budget and Finance director.