State Senate District 19 candidate Aaron Toa Bonar talks about his decision to run

Steve Jackson

Elephant in the Room
with Steve Jackson

Aaron Toa Bonar is running for the Hawaii State Senate District 19, which includes Kapolei, where he lives and works, Honokai Hale, Makakilo, Kalaeloa, Royal Kunia, Village Park, Waikele, and parts of Ko Olina and Waipahu. The Hawaii Independent‘s conservative columnist Steve Jackson spoke with the Republican candidate about his campaign objectives.

Why are you running the Senate?
There wasn’t anyone for me to vote for. I was a CIA analyst and worked for the Federal Protection Service protecting people like senators, judges, and their staffs, so I’ve always been a part of the political process but have always been prohibited from participating.

I was an analyst, my job was to figure out things that happen, analyze them and try to provide information, from which others make decisions. I talk with many of my friends about politics and am very passionate. One of them said to stop talking and start walking.

Initially, I wanted nothing to do with it ... I’m not trying to seek the limelight. But, When the Republican Party contacted me through a friend and asked if I might be interested in running, I accepted the offer to help make a change and provide a conservative choice worth voting for. I believe that both of my opponents are decent people and have much to offer the community. I just feel they are wrong on the issues.

What do you have to offer that they don’t?
A real understanding of how an economy works from a larger level. Don’t get me wrong, I have experience running a household and running a business. But, what puts me in a position to make decisions is my training and experience evaluating economies on a larger scale. I’ve seen how larger, macroeconomic government intervention has affected the community.

What, specifically, are the bigger issues in the district?
Jobs and infrastructure and traffic are the biggest issues I have with the 19th district. In our area, the roads are terrible; current politicians are not doing enough to support the second city. It affects quality of live and our economy.

Where are you on rail?
I’m against the rail. Whether or not it is a good idea I don’t think we should consider putting it into effect now. We’ve shown inconsistency and inability providing maintenance for the infrastructure we have. Why should we put our money and faith into a larger, more complicated, and more expensive piece of infrastructure now? There are cheaper alternatives that will provide more immediate relief to the people in my district.

How would you improve the education system?
First of all, we have to have an audit. In recent years, we’ve seen the Department of Education misplacing tens of millions of dollars (actually close to a hundred million dollars). Not even misplacing, just losing ... They just can’t account for it. How do we go forward if we don’t know where we are?

Second, we have one of the only centralized State education departments in the country ... The most successful school systems in the country are the ones with the least amount of higher control. Even if you say that it could work, even if the model is a good model, our State has failed to implement its execution.

Last, there have been successes but they’ve been stifled ... The K12 home-school program was one of the best in the nation; unfortunately it was taken over by the DOE. Since then we’ve seen a reduction in effectiveness. It’s amazing that the program was so successful but was influenced from above and lost control. One of the biggest advantages of the home school program was that kids could work at their own pace. Now, it’s set up at the same pace as public schools, regardless of whether the students could have performed more quickly ... which lowers the bar for everyone and keeps students who could have excelled down.

Instead of altering the public system to be more like the successful model, they altered the model to be more like the public school system. Our school system is a train wreck, leaving the same people in power that created the train wreck and expecting a different outcome does not work. There are school systems and models that work. We should learn from them. I’m frustrated that there are so many good people working extremely hard and accomplishing nothing because of the system they work in.

What do you think about House Bill 444?
I think that the issue should be shelved because it’s already been dealt with. If you’re being discriminated against, I’ll help you, but I’m not going to pass laws to promote your agenda. I don’t think that the government should provide economic preference to anyone, regardless of the reason. I disagree with House Bill 444—adding another favored group is not the same as eliminating favoritism. What about a person that doesn’t believe in marriage? What about single people? Why should the government provide benefits for some groups of people but not to others?

Anything you would like to say to The Hawaii Independent readers?
I believe that the only appropriate role for government is to protect the weak from the strong.

If you’d like to read it, here is my history with a detailed account of what I’ve been a part of, from my campaign bio:

Aaron Bonar has been trained in economics and analysis, is an experienced business owner, and is firmly committed to the concepts of individual rights and responsibilities. Aaron and his wife Nickie, have two children, their 11-year0old daughter Arianna and their 3-year-old son Alexander.

Aaron has deep ties to Oahu. His grandfather, the late Mageo Tamatane Aga was a Worl War II veteran, a member of the Fitafita Guard in American Samoa who was brought with his family to the island by the U.S. Navy in 1951. His grandmother Eseese Aga passed away in 1962 and is buried at the Punchbowl military cemetery. His family still lives on Oahu, many of them within the district.

Aaron has extensive professional economic experience.  He was an analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency, with a heavy focus in market analysis.  From there he went on to providing contract security for Federal Protective Service. When he began as an officer there, he and his fellow officers were laboring under guidelines almost 40 years out of date so he helped organize and bring in the UPGWA (United Plant Guard Workers of America), now the SPFPA (International Union, Security, Police and Fire Professionals of America) in order to ensure that he and his fellow officers had access to critical equipment such as ballistic vests and modern firearms. It was also there, while he provided physical security for Federal judges, Congressmen, and their staffs, that Aaron was able to see first hand just how far our government had grown beyond the boundaries set for it. Aaron eventually was promoted to the rank of Captain with dozens of officers directly reporting to him before leaving to open his own business that he successfully operated and grew for 6 years. Having experienced both public and private employment, Aaron is now seeking to bring what he has learned to the Hawaii State Senate.

Aaron’s two children participate in the K12 home school program here in Hawaii, a program he has praised repeatedly as being one of the most professional and effective home-school programs in the nation. His wife Nickie is a disabled Iraq war veteran, and he has many other family members including his sister who have or are currently serving in Iraq and elsewhere.

Aaron is an Eastern Orthodox Christian, an avid reader, enjoys chess and fishing. He works quietly within the community, striving to be a positive influence on the lives of those around him through faithfulness in everyday things.