HONOLULU – With the inauguration of David Ige on Monday, the state of Hawaii welcomed its eighth governor, a third-generation Japanese-American and the second governor of Japanese ancestry for the state.
“I stand here today in the shadow of my parents’ and my grandparents’ accomplishments because of their willingness to sacrifice and look to my future,” Ige said in his first speech after taking the oath of office at the State Capitol in Honolulu.
“And I say to them and my mother, who is watching today from the hospital, with the greatest humility, ‘okagesamade’ — All that I am, I am because of you,” Ige said using a Japanese expression of appreciation.
Born and raised in Pearl City, a city west of Honolulu, Ige has been a state legislator since he was appointed to the state House of Representatives in 1985 by George Ariyoshi, the first Japanese-American governor for Hawaii who served from 1974 until 1986.
Ige served in the house for eight years until he was elected to the state Senate in 1994.
Ige, recognizing that Hawaii and the United States as a whole are made up primarily of immigrants and children of immigrants, touched on the importance of remembering the past and embracing future opportunities.
“All of us, no matter where we came from, walk today with one foot stepping out of the past and the other about to step into a future, a future of endless possibilities,” Ige said.
A relative unknown when he announced his gubernatorial candidacy, Ige gradually gained name recognition and went on to win the Democratic primary against the incumbent, Neil Abercrombie, in a landslide victory, taking nearly two-thirds of the vote in August.
On Nov. 4, Ige was elected governor over Republican challenger Duke Aiona, a former lieutenant governor.
Shan Tsutsui, lieutenant governor under Abercrombie since 2012, was re-elected to that post.
Ige is the fifth son of Tokio and Tsurue Ige. Tokio was a veteran of World War II, having served in the 100th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team, made up of Japanese-Americans.
Ige received a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where he also earned a master’s degree in business administration.
He worked as an engineer for GTE Hawaiian Tel, a Honolulu-based telecom company now known as Hawaiian Telcom, for 18 years and worked at several other companies while serving as a state legislator.
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