David Yutaka Ige is an American politician of Japanese descent who was elected as the Governor of Hawaii in 2014. He previously served as a member of the Hawaii State Senate from the Democratic Party and represented District 16 from 1994 to 2014. He led his campaign on the promise of bringing a change in the leadership to move the people of Hawaii forward collectively, instead of dividing the population by providing special favors. Ige's idea was that the State Government can perform better by functioning as a business where delivering results consistently on time and within budget is a priority. He also promised to respect Native Hawaiian culture and practices. During his early years, Ige was a brilliant student as well as an athlete, and has performed in leadership roles as student body president multiple times. A successful electrical engineer, he has worked for 34 years in the information technology and telecommunications industry with many companies prior to his political career. He is married to Dawn Amano-Ige, whom he met while pursuing a bachelor's degree at University of Hawaii. They have three children: Lauren, Amy, and Matthew.
Childhood & Early Life
David Ige was born on January 15, 1957 in Pearl City, Hawaii, to Tokio and Tsurue Ige. He is the fifth of six sons.
His father served in the 100th Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team of the U.S. Army during World War II and was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star. He started working as a steelworker after the war. Ige's mother has worked as a nurse and dental hygienist.
During his childhood, Ige attended Pearl City Elementary School, Highlands Intermediate School, and Pearl City High School. He was elected student body vice president in his junior year at school and served as the senior class president the following year.
During his school years, he actively participated in community sports and played for eight years in the Pearl City Little League. He earned the 'Scholar-Athlete of the Year' honor for leading his varsity tennis team to a championship.
Ige attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa for his bachelor's degree despite the fact that he had been accepted into M.I.T. He was very active during this time and served not only as the student body president, but also acted as the treasurer and vice-president of his fraternity, Phi Delta Sigma.
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David Ige started his professional career as an electrical engineer at Pacific Analysis Corporation. He worked there as a Research Analyst and an Electronics Engineer from 1979 to 1981.
In 1981, he joined GTE Hawaiian Tel as a Project Engineer. He worked there for 18 long years and eventually served as a Senior Administrator. While working for GTE Hawaiian Tel, he earned a master of Business Administration degree in Decisions Sciences from UH.
Ige joined Pihana Pacific as a Project Engineer/Senior Principal Engineer in 1999 and worked there for two years. The company established the first world-class data center and carrier-neutral Internet exchange in Hawaii and the Pacific.
Next, Ige joined Net Enterprise as the Vice President of Engineering. His final job prior to running for Governor of Hawaii was as program/project manager with Robert A. Ige and Associates where he worked from 2003 to 2014.
David Ige began his political career in 1985 when he was appointed to the Hawaii House of Representatives by the then Governor George Ariyoshi to fill a vacant seat. He represented District 43 from 1985 to 1993 and District 34 from 1993 to 1995.
Before he started his campaign as governor, he served in the Hawaii State Senate for nearly two decades. He represented District 16 from 1995 through 2014.
He was reelected to the Hawaii State Senate in 2012, defeating Republican candidate Mike Greco. Greco was the first challenger Ige faced in a general election in over a decade.
In 2014, Ige became the Governor of Hawaii, winning election to the open gubernatorial seat. He eliminated incumbent Governor Neil Abercrombie in the Democratic primary in August of that year. In November, he defeated Republican candidate Duke Aiona and Independent candidate Mufi Hannemann in the general election.
Ige took oath as the eighth governor of Hawaii on December 1, 2014. His inauguration theme was "honoring the past and charting a new tomorrow." During his inauguration, he paid tribute to his father who served in the US army.
David Ige has served as the chairman of nine different committees during his legislative career, including the committees on Education, Health, and Ways and Means. He primarily focused on information and telecommunications policy. He co-authored the Hawaii Telecommunications and Information Industries Act in the Legislature that established the state information network and created the Hawaii Information Network Corporation.
His efforts have been to diversify Hawaiian economy. He has been responsible for establishing seed capital and venture capital programs, software development initiatives, and technology transfer programs.
Awards & Achievements
David Ige became the first candidate ever to defeat an incumbent Governor of Hawaii in a primary election. Despite Abercrombie's 10-to-1 spending advantage, Ige defeated him by a 2-to-1 margin.
Ige became the second person of Japanese descent, after George Ariyoshi, to be elected Governor of Hawaii,. He is also the first person of Okinawan descent to be elected governor of a U.S. state.
He led his varsity tennis team to a championship and was honored as the “Scholar-Athlete of the Year.” In 1975, he graduated from school, ranking fifth in a class of more than 500 students. In 1986, Hawaii Business magazine named him one of the university’s Top 10 MBA students.
Personal Life & Legacy
David Ige met his future wife Dawn Amano during his time at University of Hawaii. Dawn was pursuing a bachelor’s degree in journalism at that time. The couple has three children, Lauren, Amy, and Matthew, who are currently pursuing their degrees at universities on the mainland.
His father, Tokio Ige, died in 2005 at the age of 86. His mother, who is now a retiree, lives in Pearl City.
David Ige strongly supported President Obama’s plan to allow 10,000 new Syrian refugees into the United States following the Paris terrorist attacks on November 13, 2015. He stated that Hawaiian tradition welcomes "all people with tolerance and mutual respect."