A Sitka Democrat has filed to run for the state House against incumbent Bill Thomas.
Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, 23, declared his candidacy on Friday, which was the filing deadline. Thomas, a Haines Republican, added Sitka to his district when the state re-drew legislative boundaries. Redistricting happens every decade.
Kreiss-Tomkins was born and raised in Sitka, and graduated from Sitka High School in 2007. He has completed all of his coursework at Yale, and will graduate once his thesis is complete.
“I love Alaska, I love Sitka, I love Southeast Alaska, and I think one of the best ways to contribute to a place I love is to try to create value there,” he said. “Politics and policy is a really important way to create value. It governs the way we all live, to a certain extent, and hopefully does that in a way for the better.”
Kreiss-Tomkins has not previously held an elected office, but volunteered for the U.S. Senate campaign of former Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles in 2004, during his freshman year of high school. He also volunteered for President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign.
Technically, Kreiss-Tomkins has filed for the August primary ballot, but with no other Democrats in the race, his advancement to the November ballot is almost certain.
That puts him up against Thomas, a four-term Republican incumbent who co-chairs the powerful House Finance Committee. But Kreiss-Tomkins says redistricting makes it anyone’s race.
“I wouldn’t be running if I didn’t think I could win,” he said. “Part of this district is pretty new to me, and part of this district is pretty new for him. In fact, more of this district is new for him than it is for me. So I think it’s a bit of a question mark for both of us.”
“I’ve been eight years in the legislature, and I knew Ben Grussendorf and Dick Eliason,” Thomas said. “Sitka respects leadership and experience.”
Thomas is a commercial fisherman, something he says will help him in Sitka. He says he wasn’t surprised to find a challenger on the candidate list when the deadline passed on Friday.
“I’ve never met the young man, but I look forward to it, and we’ll just see what happens,” he said. “I was probably more surprised I didn’t have a Republican opponent than anything.”
The Alaska primary election is Aug. 28. The general election takes place Nov. 6.