This coming election will mark 60 years since a pivotal turning point in our state's political history, the Democratic Revolution of 1954.
Tired of not having a voice, many World War II veterans and union members marched to the voting booth and captured a majority in the territorial Legislature and all county governments. Republicans lost their control over Hawaii's political landscape and a new generation of leaders emerged, including Daniel K. Inouye, George Ariyoshi, Spark Matsunaga and Patsy Mink.
The Democratic Party has come a long way since those days. Many of the issues have evolved but the sentiment of having a government that cares for people has never wavered.
Democrats continually work on concerns important to the community such as providing affordable homes, encouraging the best educational opportunities for our keiki, providing well-paying jobs and advocating for reasonable health care, all while trying to minimize the burdens of taxpayers and caring for our environment.
The fundamental success of the party, however, has always been because of a fluid discourse with our membership and elected officials. Any member wanting to voice his or her opinion is encouraged to do so and can make a difference.
The Democratic Party of Hawai'i has designated more than 250 precincts across the state, with 35 in Maui County. Each precinct is required to have a president and a set of officers to gather opinions of Democrats within their respective geographical area. These precinct officers then communicate the sentiment of their precinct to their respective district, county officers and even to the state and national level.
Precinct officers also have the responsibility to select three individuals to forward to the governor if a midterm vacancy occurs with their state representative or state senator. The most recent case on Maui was the precinct officer recommendations of Gil Keith-Agaran and Justin Woodson as midterm replacements in 2012 and 2013.
Precinct officers are critical to perpetuating the values of the Democratic Party. People may be reluctant to affiliate themselves with a political label. Political parties, however, provide a continuity of choice and help communities to organize through ideologies instead of other factors that may be an eventual detriment to our society. Most importantly, parties ensure that a vibrant democracy is preserved.
I encourage any Democrat wanting to get involved at the grass-roots level to attend the party's biennial precinct elections on March 5.
The election of precinct officers will begin at 6 p.m. at the following locations throughout Maui County: District 8 (Wailuku area), Iao Intermediate School cafeteria; District 9 (Central Maui), Lihikai Elementary School cafeteria; District 10 (West Maui), Lahaina Civic Center; District 11 (South Maui), Kihei Charter School on Lipoa Street; District 12 (Upcountry), Pukalani School cafeteria; District 13, Precincts 1 & 2 (Paia & Haiku), Paia Community Center; District 13, Precinct 3 (Keanae & Hana), Hana School cafeteria; District 13, Precinct 4 (Lanai), ILWU Local 142 Hall; District 13, Precinct 5 (Molokai), Kilohana Community Center; District 13, Precinct 6 (Molokai), Kaunakakai Elementary School; District 13, Precincts 7 & 8 (Molokai), Lanikeha Hoolehua.
More information can be found on our website, www.mauidemocrats.org. Those who wish to register as a Democrat can do so that evening.
It is critical to have our community participate in the democratic process. If not you, then who? There are too many problems facing our community to sit on the sidelines.
Only by working together will we be able to determine the best course of action to tackle the issues of our day. Although a notion exists that only those in elected office can make a difference, the reality is that grass-roots members are the most critical component in maintaining a vibrant Democratic Party. I encourage and invite people to get involved.
* Troy Hashimoto is the chairman of Maui County Committee of the Democratic Party of Hawai'i.