February 4, 2014

Tarvin wins runoff for state House seat

Rachel Brown

— Steve Tarvin said that while he can’t say whether his business experience or emphasis on following the Constitution helped propel him to a seat in the state House of Representatives, he appreciates the votes and support of everyone who helped put him there.

In results that are unofficial until certified by the Secretary of State, Tarvin received 53.88 percent of  the vote (1,925 votes) to opponent Neal Florence’s 46.12 percent (1,648 votes) in the runoff election Tuesday to fill the unexpired term of Jay Neal for House District 2.

The district includes Trichum, Tunnel Hill and Westside in Whitfield County and parts of Catoosa and Walker counties. Neal stepped down last November after being named executive director of the Governor’s Office of Transition, Support and Re-entry. The term expires at the end of 2014.

“We’re very blessed and very fortunate and thankful that the people got out and voted for us,” said Tarvin, a former Chickamauga City Council member and former school board member. “I see this as a job of service, not a job of authority, and I look forward to serving the people.”

During his campaign, Tarvin emphasized limiting government. Among the concerns he raised was the impact of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, and the federal government exercising too much control over local school systems. He said he also hopes to work toward policies that help bring more jobs to Georgia.

Tarvin is originally from Chickamauga. He owned Crystal Springs Print Works for 30 years.

Tarvin and Florence edged Doug Woodruff out of the race in the Jan. 7 special election. With Florence garnering about 34 percent of the vote and Tarvin about 38 percent, both men headed into Tuesday’s runoff. Had Whitfield County alone decided the initial election, Tarvin would have won by a landslide with just more than 73 percent of the vote. In the runoff, Tarvin received 78.37 percent of the vote in Whitfield County (308 votes) to Florence’s 21.63 percent (85 votes). Turnout in Whitfield County for the runoff was 7.13 percent.

Florence thanked his supporters and said he will continue working hard to manage the business he has owned for 34 years, Medi-Thrift pharmacy in LaFayette.

“I have the utmost respect for Steve and his family and the campaign that he conducted,” Florence said. “I’m disappointed, but I’m not devastated ... It’s one of those things that wasn’t meant to be.”

Florence said he isn’t planning to run for office again. He was LaFayette’s mayor for 23 years until he left office when his term expired in December after he decided not to run again. The Trion native graduated from The McCallie School in Chattanooga in 1969 and completed his chemistry degree and pharmacy degree at the University of Georgia.