2490 Kalakaua Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96815
James Aiona was born in Pearl City, Hawaiʻi. He attended Saint Louis School, a local academy of the Diocese of Honolulu. Upon graduating high school, Aiona pursued a bachelor of arts degree in political science, which he received from the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California in 1977. Aiona returned to Hawaiʻi and graduated from the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa in 1981.
In 1977, while attending law school, he met Vivian Welsh at a dance in Waikīkī. They married in 1981. They have two sons, Kulia and Makana; and two daughters, Ohulani and Kaimilani.
He began his legal career at the City and County of Honolulu as a deputy prosecutor, and was appointed to the Hawaiʻi State Judiciary in 1990 as a Family Court judge. In 1996, while serving as Circuit Court judge, Aiona became the first administrative judge and primary architect of the Drug Court Program in Hawaiʻi. The program gives non-violent offenders a chance to stay out of prison through active and effective drug rehabilitation. Under his leadership, 85 percent of offenders stayed in the program and out of prison.
In his first term as Lt. Governor, Aiona intensified efforts against the problem of illicit drug abuse, including methamphetamine, and underage drinking, which increasingly plagued the state. In 2003, his efforts led to Hawaiʻi's first Drug Control Strategy Summit. This project gathered together government, nonprofit organizations and members of the community to create an all-encompassing strategy that included community mobilization, prevention, treatment and vigorous law enforcement to deal with illegal drug and alcohol use. Production and use of crystal methamphetamine has since been greatly reduced in the state. As Lieutenant Governor, Aiona was paid $117,312 per annum.
Aiona has served as a member of the advisory council for the Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). He was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2006 to the Advisory Commission on Drug-Free Communities, which advises the Director of the White House Office of National Drug Policy. He is also a co-chair for the Aerospace States Association, a national organization of Lt. Governors whose purpose is to promote aerospace policies relating to education and economic development. Additionally, Aiona is a Co-Chair of Leadership to Keep Children Alcohol Free, a national leadership coalition that seeks to prevent underage drinking across the nation