The Power Issue

Who are the most powerful people in Hawaii?

October, 2004

Hawaii is a small, relatively quiet and stable place, so how dynamic can its power structure be? That question hung in the backs of our minds when we conducted our first power survey two years ago and then again last year, when many of the same players appeared again. However, in the third year of our Power Issue, we are seeing some significant and unexpected movement among the movers and shakers.

First of all, the king of them all, the last of his tribe, Walter Dods, will be stepping down as chief executive officer of BancWest Corp. in December. His retirement will mark the end of an era that stretches back some 100 years to the Big Five and their big-time power brokers. This year, Dods, whose power rating has always been stratospheric, came back down to Earth and fell to second on our list.

Political controversy and waning popularity also claimed two of our University of Hawaii A-listers. Evan Dobelle, who made a splash at No. 3 in our inaugural list, had a very public brawl with the school’s Board of Regents and resigned. Football coach June Jones, who also cracked the top ten in 2002, fell completely off the radar screen. However, the season is still young.

Finally, as we go to press, the biggest power events in the land, the primary and general elections, are only days away. The next Honolulu mayor will likely skyrocket to near the top of our list and set off a domino effect up and down the rankings.

Our methodology in this artful science of power prediction is pretty simple and, we admit, subjective. We polled 100 prominent community members and asked who they thought were the most influential people in business, politics and community affairs. We then took our results to an editorial board we assembled for this occasion and reviewed the data. Our editorial team then finalized the rankings.

This year, we also feature some of Hawaii’s up-and-comers, on the brink of stellar careers. Our power sidebar (on page 36) examines the slow evolution of the power aloha shirt, the uniform of Bishop Street.

It is with great pleasure that we present the 2004 Power Issue. We hope you have as much fun reading it as we did putting it together.

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David K. Choo