Ilagan seeks state Senate seat

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Two-term Puna Councilman Greggor Ilagan announced Wednesday he’s running as a Democrat for the District 2 state Senate seat.


Two-term Puna Councilman Greggor Ilagan announced Wednesday he’s running as a Democrat for the District 2 state Senate seat.

“I feel that I can make a greater difference being in the Senate than being on the County Council, not only for the Big Island but the state,” Ilagan said.

Ilagan, 29, is getting an early start. Candidate filing for the 2016 elections doesn’t begin until Feb. 1, with the primary election set for Aug. 13, 2016.

Sen. Russell Ruderman, the Puna Democrat currently holding the Puna-Ka‘u seat, said Ilagan hadn’t contacted him before making his announcement.

Ilagan said he doesn’t look at it as running against Ruderman, if Ruderman runs for re-election, but running for the seat itself.

“It’s the people’s seat, and it depends on who they want,” Ilagan said.

Ruderman said he’s currently considering three options: running for re-election to a second four-year term for the Senate seat, running for Hawaii County mayor or running for County Council. He said he won’t be making a decision for another two or three months.

“I’m currently considering my options, which is what every politician does every election year,” Ruderman said.

State Rep. Joy San Buenaventura, also a Puna Democrat, is also considering running for the Senate seat, but she hasn’t yet made a decision. She has discussed it with Ruderman, however.

“The state House leadership has been very good to me,” San Buenaventura said. “I’m very happy with the House, but I am keeping my options open.”

Buenaventura listed her selection to be on the pivotal conference committee for the medical marijuana dispensaries bill as one area where the House leadership believed in her ability to handle responsibility and make a difference.

Ilagan overcame crowded fields to win the District 4 council seat in 2012 and 2014, becoming the youngest council member elected in the history of the county.

He doesn’t see his meager campaign account of $3,308 as being a detriment in a race for a greatly expanded district. Social media and creative uses of campaign money will help him get the word out, he said.

Ruderman has a balance of $5,138 as of July 30, according to reports filed with the state Campaign Spending Commission. He’s had two fundraisers in the district so far this year.

Ruderman was formerly the chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, but lost his chairmanship in a late-session leadership shuffle after losing favor with Gov. David Ige.


While Ilagan and Ruderman differ on big issues such as genetically modified crops — Ruderman favors a ban on the so-called GMOs, while Ilagan opposes it — Ilagan said his focus will be more on getting local infrastructure, such as expanded bus routes, onto the island.

“I will continue to be the person who listens to people’s concerns and tackles problems important to them,” he said in a statement late Wednesday announcing his new campaign.

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