Tarnas seeks state House seat

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Former state Rep. David Tarnas announced Thursday he’ll seek the District 7 state House seat currently held by Rep. Cindy Evans, a fellow Democrat.

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Former state Rep. David Tarnas announced Thursday he’ll seek the District 7 state House seat currently held by Rep. Cindy Evans, a fellow Democrat.

The district includes North Kona and North and South Kohala.

Candidate filing for the next election doesn’t begin until Feb. 1, but Tarnas, 54, said he wanted to announce exactly one year prior to the Aug. 13, 2016 primary. He’s also had to open a campaign spending account after reaching state spending reporting limits.

Tarnas was the state representative for North Kona and South Kohala from 1994 to 1998, before losing to former Hawaii County Councilman Jim Rath, a Republican. For the past two years, he was the Hawaii County Democratic Party chairman.

One of the major accomplishments he cited during his tenure in the House was sponsoring the bill leading to Act 306, creating the West Hawaii Regional Fishery Management Area. Tarnas said it’s an example of how resource management and environmental stewardship also benefits business.

“Throughout my career, I have demonstrated that economic growth and environmental protection can go hand-in-hand and that a strong economy does not have to occur at the expense of the environment,” said Tarnas.

In addition to protecting the environment and building a sustainable economy, Tarnas said he wants to strengthen the state’s education system, protect equal rights and opportunities for the entire Hawaii Island community and help citizens regain their trust in government.

Tarnas has lived in the district for almost 30 years, and it is where he and his wife, Carolyn Stewart, have run their own planning consulting business, Marine and Coastal Solutions International. He’s also a member of the Hawaii County Agriculture Advisory Commission and the Community Advisory Group for the U.S. Army Garrison — Pohakuloa Training Area.

Evans, 63, the incumbent now in her seventh two-year term, said she plans to run for re-election. She cited the proposed judiciary complex, improvements to Queen Kaahumanu Highway and Kawaihae Road and Hawaii Community College — Palamanui as projects she needs to follow through on.

“I need a little more time. … I want the opportunity to come back,” Evans said. “All these projects take a number of years, keeping that push, push, push going. … If they’ll let me, I still want to the the voice for the community.”

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Tarnas said his plan to seek the House seat is no reflection on Evans, with whom he had previously discussed the idea.

“There are no hard feelings,” he said. “It’s just my time to come out and run for office.”

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