Politics — Expect Gary Safarik To Formally Announce His Bid For Senate

Steve Hirakami (L) and Gary Safarik at the Pahoa gym celebration Wednesday. Photo by Tiffany Edwards Hunt. All rights reserved. Use with permission only.

Former Hawaii County Councilman Gary Safarik told the Big Island Chronicle he intends to seek the Puna Senate District 2 seat expected once the State Reapportionment Plan is complete.  Recall that last week Hawaii Academy of Arts and Sciences Public Charter School Principal Steve Hirakami announced he would also be pursuing that seat.  Both Safarik and Hirakami will be challenging State Rep. Bob Herkes, who has announced his intention to vacate the House in pursuit of the Senate District 2 seat.  This will not be the first time that Hirakami and Safarik will be challenging each other in the same race — Safarik defeated Hirakami in 2000 election for County Council representing Puna District 5.  Safarik served as a Puna council member from 2000 until 2006, when Emily Naeole unseated him.  Safarik said he will make a formal announcement of his intention to run for State Senate in a guest column for Big Island Chronicle, after the Reapportionment Commission finalizes its reapportionment plan.

9 replies
  1. Rob Tucker
    Rob Tucker says:

    Gary Safarik is a Puna flower that only blooms every two years – at election time.

    He is nowhere to be seen the rest of the time and completely missing from important Puna issues like FTR – Fuel Tax Revenue, Zoning for HAAS, Redistricting…. you name it.

    But if there is a title up for grabs with a paycheck attached Safarik shows up with a big smile.

    Steve Hirakami is the real deal.

  2. Rene Siracusa
    Rene Siracusa says:

    For the sake of accuracy Rob: Gary Safarik attended the 3/6 Reapportionment hearing. He was in touch with me by phone during the Redistricting process about some of the issues the commission was facing. I don’t know about the HAAS zoning or FTR matters, because I wasn’t involved in either of those – we can’t all be everywhere. Surely there are important matters facing Puna that you have not been involved with…

  3. Rob Tucker
    Rob Tucker says:

    Thanks for the update Rene, I get around a lot and for me Gary is only present at election time.

  4. Gary Safarik
    Gary Safarik says:

    Aloha to you too, Rob Tucker.

    I was involved in the initial startup of HAAS my first year serving on the Council. This was with some of the administration’s struggle to get land to build their school. I have always been a supporter and advocate for the charter school movement.
    Give me a chance to communicate my goals and dreams for the future of the Big Island and Puna. I will have talk
    story events in the District and will announce the time and place at a later date.
    Re: Rob Tucker’s evaluation….I will strive to be more accessable in the future. However, running for the new Senate seat is about my desire to make our Puna and Big Island a safer and healther place to live. My reason for wanting to serve the people is not for the money…..but about my love for this Island.

  5. Gino
    Gino says:

    Like Herkes, Gary Safarik comes off as a bit arrogant and misanthropic. Over the decades I’ve crossed paths numerous times with Herkes in the volcano post office, we’re the only two people in there, and not an acknowledgment, glance, half smile, nothing, nada. Same with Safarik in public places, you get the impression that he really does not like you.

    Maybe thats just the way you gotta be when you’re royalty.

  6. Rob Tucker
    Rob Tucker says:

    We may get to reminisce a lot this election cycle. Here’s a start….

    When I first ran into Gary Safarik on a Mainstreet Pahoa project and he was on council: After explaining the goal and intent of MSPA regarding the 56 acre parkland gift Gary told me: “You can waste your time on that if you want to.”

    Needless to say I was not impressed. Even less impressed later when I found him playing political football with those same acres which we (Mainstreet Pahoa Assoc.) had signed over to the county.

    Anyone else have memories to share?

  7. Rob Tucker
    Rob Tucker says:


    This isn’t really personal…. so please don’t take it that way. I am not going to pretend to be your friend any more than you have been mine. Its just based on my experience with you over the years I do not want you representing our district at the state house or county council.

  8. steve hirakami
    steve hirakami says:

    Should be fun. Gary reminded me of the election 12 years ago. I reminded him that I ran as a Green Party candidate and now, I am a Democrat. Also, we ran and debated council issues. This is a State race and we are in a different decade and the issues are far more complex. In the spirit of journalism, I actually poised for the picture above for Tiff’s sake. I welcome Gary to the race. If you remember the past Lieutenant Governor’s race, it was already filled with veteran legislators when I joined. It turned out to be a valuable experience in raising the bar on state education issues. If you know me, you know that I love challenges: Big waves, starting a charter school, being a good dad and husband, overcoming obstacles that seem impossible at first. If you’re wondering why I am posting late at night, I had a hugely busy day and when I checked the site to see more hilarious comments about the forbidden bottle of water, I came across this stream and had to comment.

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