Rep. George Fontaine – Not Your Standard Hawaii Politician
By Susan Halas
As the 2012 Hawaii State Legislature opens for business, now is a good time to take a look at George Fontaine.
This Maui legislator is definitely a departure from the norm. In a body full of Democrats he’s one of only eight Republicans serving in the House. In a group dominated members with high seniority, he’s a freshman. In a political scenario often orchestrated by Oahu, he represents South Maui. And, in a roomful of former lawyers, he was a cop before he entered politics.
George Fontaine (51) is not your standard-issue Hawaii politician. He represents South Maui’s 11th State House District including Kihei, Wailea and Makena. To him Republican means “less government, more economic opportunity for business.”
As for style, his is non-confrontational: “It’s how you carry yourself and what your attitude is that counts.
“A long time ago my father gave me some very good advice. In two words my dad told me: ‘Be nice.’ That advice has carried me a long way. You need other people to get things done. My main objective is representing the people in my district. You have to find common ground. I’m not a partisan guy. Leave the party tag at the door.”
Before seeking public office, Fontaine was active in the Maui community for many years. He served as an officer with the Maui Police Department from 1980 to 2005, retiring as Wailuku Patrol Captain.
While a member of the MPD he also started and later sold Maui Gateway, an early internet service provider. He considers himself tech savvy and is also the author of a number of computer books.
After retirement he became Hawaii Rotary District Governor from 2007 to 2008. This volunteer position involved extensive travel and kept him in contact with Hawaii’s 43 Rotary clubs with more than 2,200 members.
After that politics came easily. “My life has always been about public service, it was a natural.” In just a short time he’s gone from “enforcing the laws to making them.”
His own top priority is the economy. “Government doesn’t create jobs,” he said. “Business creates jobs. My sympathies lie with the private sector; making it possible to have a healthy business community.”
Fontaine first ran and lost in 2008. He ran again and won in 2010. He’s just finished the first year of a two year term and is already raising funds to run again this fall. He’s hoping to raise $50,000. “Well maybe,” he said, “$30,000 would be more realistic.”
He refers to himself as a “fiscal conservative” and a “committed family man.” His wife Paige is his campaign manager and an excellent photographer. They have two children Phillip 15 and Angelique 17. The family lives in Kihei where they belong to St. Theresa’s Catholic Church. Before his life became so busy he enjoyed diving and also liked to play golf.
His advice to Maui voters of all parties is: “Stay involved; stay active. Follow the bills that interest you. Let your lawmakers hear from you. We are all here to represent you.”