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Tarnas announces campaign for Evans’ District 7 House seat

Updated: 
August 12, 2017 - 12:05am

HILO — David Tarnas, who last year suffered a whisker-thin primary loss in his campaign to unseat state Rep. Cindy Evans, is ready for a rematch.

Tarnas, 56, who served in the Legislature from 1994 to 1998 representing North Kona and South Kohala, announced his campaign Friday, a year to the day until the 2018 primary.

Tarnas lost by 181 votes out of 4,283 votes cast last year in the Democratic primary. Evans went on to beat Republican Jeffrey Coakley to secure her seat.

“It was a very close race against a longtime incumbent,” Tarnas said in a statement. “The widespread support I received from voters in our community indicates that many people in the district are ready for a change. They are not satisfied with the status quo at the state Legislature.”

Evans, 65, now serving her eighth two-year term, said she plans to run again, but that’s not on her mind right now.

“I think it’s very early to start talking about the race,” Evans said.

Evans has held two fundraisers so far this year, both $100-per-person. Tarnas hasn’t registered a fundraiser with the Campaign Spending Commission for the current election.

Evans hasn’t raised much, collecting just $1,575 in contributions in the past six months, according to her report filed with the state Campaign Spending Commission by the July 31 deadline. Her war chest of $8,692 is still higher than Tarnas’ $6,214, however.

Tarnas collected $6,890 from January to June, but spent $2,011, according to his report. Evans didn’t spend any money.

As House majority leader, Evans said she’s been focused on the upcoming special session on how to pay for Honolulu rail. The majority leader is the third top leadership position.

“I feel I’m in a really good spot right now,” Evans said. “I know I’ll need more time.”

In her new position, she’s focused more on statewide issues, but she’s still pushing for Big Island projects, she said. Hawaii Community College - Palamanui is on that list, as well as adding more STEM education centers and programs for the state’s rapidly growing elder population.

Evans was named majority leader in an end-of-session House shakeup that saw the ouster of former House Speaker Joe Souki amid turmoil over the rail issue. She was previously majority floor leader.

Tarnas said the disorganization of the House during the past session exposes a need for better leadership.

“Voters want more effective leadership to solve the problems in our state. Voters want leaders with practical experience, strong technical skills and a record of resolving local conflicts,” he said. “As a former legislator with a successful legislative record, I understand the challenges of getting legislators to work together on policy changes to address complex issues.”

District 7 includes North and South Kohala as well as North Kona. Candidate filing begins Feb. 1.

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