The Power Issue

The 10 most influential people in Hawaii.

October, 2002

Who are the most powerful people in Hawaii?

At one moment, it seemed like a rather simple question to answer. At other times, it was like trying to catch lightning in a bottle. What is power, after all? Money is power. Land is power. And knowledge is power.

We mulled over ways to quantify power. Should we just follow the money? Should we count the number of employees a chief executive officer controls? But power is too elusive to be tabulated with just dollars and cents and roll calls. It is a mercurial mix of position, personality, perception and results. In other words, being powerful is to be in the position to get things done, making people believe that you can get things done, and, finally, getting things done. We eventually found that the best way to account for the big and the little intangibles that comprise power was to simply ask people for their opinion.

We polled more than 50 prominent community members and asked who they thought were the most influential people in business, politics and community affairs. Our results are hardly scientific. But, as we found out, ascertaining who has more or less power in Hawaii is more art than science.

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