First Filipino-American Governor
Benjamin J. Cayetano is the first and only American of Filipino ancestry who became a state governor in the United States. He was first elected as governor of Hawaii in 1994 and was reelected in 1998. A Democrat and a lawyer by profession, Cayetano had served as a congressman of Hawaii from 1975 to 1978 and as a senator from 1979 to 1986 before becoming a lieutenant governor in 1990.
First Filipino New Jersey Mayor
Robert Rivas, 51, is the first Filipino-American mayor in the New Jersey area. A lawyer by profession, Rivas was elected mayor of Bergenfield in November 1999, with the large support coming from his fellow Filipino-Americans. Bergenfield, a working-class town of 25,000 residents, most of whom are white, is only 15 miles from New York City. Prior to his election, Rivas had served as a Bergenfield councilman (1996-98). While on the City Council, he chaired its Finance, Administration and Personnel Committee and was a member of its Police, Buildings and Grounds; Capital Improvements; and Community Affairs Committees.
He has practiced law for 24 years. He graduated from the Seton Hall University School of Law. He was the president of the Filipino-American Association of Bergenfield from 1997 to 1999. He immigrated to the United States in 1968. The first Filipino-American in US Congress was Virginia Rep. Robert Cortez-Scott, a Harvard alumnus.