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When voting for Governor, one vote is worth a thousand people

Ikaika M Hussey

We tend to think of the Governor as a man (too often than not). That’s about 1/1000 of the story.

Hawaii’s governor is an incredibly powerful office, able to appoint more than 1,000 people to important executive offices, boards, and commissions.

For starters, there’s the Office of the Governor. This is the core staff that executes the Governor’s initiatives and policies. Under Abercrombie it’s 42 individuals, including chief of staff Bruce Coppa, a former PRP official; and Marvin Wong, “Special Assistant to the Governor,” whose ambiguous responsibilities and deep ties to the construction industry have led to him being described as the Governor’s connection to Hawaii’s actual power politics.

Another 45 individuals sit on the Governor’s Cabinet, comprising the directors and deputies of the state agencies and offices.

And then there’s another 1,000 individuals who serve on state boards and commissions. With few exceptions – the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and precious else – these are all appointed by the Governor, and confirmed by the Senate.

It’s easy to praise or criticize Abercrombie’s picks for these positions – particularly the rightward movement in appointments since he took office – because he’s the incumbent. It’s not clear who Ige would appoint, and his campaign ought to make that public and transparent. Because the fact is that the Governor is the head of a vast bureaucracy, the majority of whose work will be done by a thousand other people.

Research by Manjari Fergusson