LAHAINA - At odds with an "out of control government that wants to regulate and dictate every aspect of our lives," West Maui preacher Bronson Kaahui is running for the Sixth District seat in the Hawaii Senate.
The Libertarian candidate and two Democrats - incumbent Sen. Rosalyn Baker of Lahaina and Terez Amato of Kihei - have also pulled nomination papers to run for the seat.
Kaahui, 28, a father with Olowalu Lanakila Hawaiian Church and National Guard soldier, said the state and federal government have too much influence on citizens' lives.
"I am running because there is something very wrong with our society today," he commented.
"Politicians in D.C. and Honolulu decide amongst themselves what is best for you and your family. They want to tell farmers what kind of crops they are allowed to grow. They want to tell schools in Kihei and Lahaina what is the best way to educate our children. They want to tell people how many fish they are allowed to catch, irrespective of their family size or situation. Even our local government wants to limit our freedom of speech and violate our civil liberties - and when they get sued in court, we have to pay."
Kaahui believes in limited government, individual liberty and economic freedom.
"Politicians have too much power and control over our lives, and this is becoming dangerous," he said.
"The Constitution was written to protect us from tyrannical governments, but politicians routinely ignore their oaths to uphold and defend it. We've accepted in our society that there are two sets of ?justice' - one for those in power and one for everybody else."
During his campaign, Kaahui wants to educate the public about the idea of liberty; the philosophical principle that others should be free to pursue their own happiness, as long as they are not harming anyone, he explained.
"There are too many people in our society who believe that they have a right to tell others how to live their lives. Invariably, they use abstract concepts like 'harm to society' in order to justify their control and regulation," he said.
"Whether we are talking about freedom to grow, trade and use the crops of our choosing; freedom to marry whoever we want; or freedom to start a business or build a home without being taxed and regulated to death, the principle of liberty benefits everybody, because ultimately, we're all better off with greater freedom. It is not a left or a right issue; it is a universal issue. People have rights, and the government needs to respect them equally."
According to Kaahui, the Sixth District (West and South Maui) needs greater freedom and autonomy. He said the state saps tax revenues from resorts in the district, "and we are supposed to be thankful when a portion is returned in the form of a school or hospital that is decades overdue.
"Let us decide what kind of community we want to live in, and what our values are," he continued. "Not only should we keep the money from the state hotel tax, but there should not be a state hotel tax in the first place!
"These issues need to be decided locally... Let's keep more of our own money; I believe you will use it more wisely than the government will. In fact, I'm certain of it."
Kaahui supports reducing bureaucratic waste, decentralizing education and legalizing marijuana.
He believes the state should reduce or abolish "useless" regulations and agencies, and stop "giving special favors" to groups and businesses with the most money or clout.
"The state government can help by getting out of our lives," Kaahui said. "I don't trust politicians in Honolulu to control our economy, education and health care.
"The state government is an obstacle to our progress, and the best thing they can do to help us is to get out of the way."
Kaahui said government also doesn't belong in Hawaii's classrooms. The state Department of Education spends more than $12,000 per year, per child, in Hawaii, with most of the funding going to administration.
"Government gets in the way of good teachers who want to do their job and forces politics onto our keiki. Common Core is a mess - the most boring curriculum ever devised," he commented.
"Get all that propaganda out of the textbooks, and let teachers teach... Get bureaucracy out of the classrooms, and you would see education blossom."
Kaahui earned a Bachelor's Degree in History, with a Minor in Political Science, at Coastal Carolina University. He is currently working on his Masters of Divinity Degree.
When asked to grade Sen. Baker's performance, Kaahui said, "I give Roz a 'P' for politician.
"I haven't seen anything that makes her stand out from every other politician out there. I'm sure she is a nice, sweet woman, and I don't have anything against her personally. My biggest question is, why are so many donors in the Mainland so interested in our election here on Maui? I couldn't see myself donating $20,000 to a senate campaign in Missouri, so why are they doing it here on Maui?"
If elected, Kaahui promises to ruffle feathers in the legislature.
"It's time for a change. A fresh, bold, new approach to government. We need someone with the energy and conviction to really confront the legislature and demand our freedom back. Freedom and liberty is something that I am not willing to compromise, and I will stand up and defend our rights from slithering politicians who want to control your life," he concluded.
For information on Kaahui, visit www.bronsonkaahui.com.