Conor Duffy State House candidate
By Dan Karpiel
Seeking to win the seat in Colorado House District 49, which encompasses all of Berthoud and currently held by Republican Perry Buck, Democrat Conor Duffy describes himself as a “middle-of-the-road” candidate open to finding common-sense, bi-partisan solutions to issues facing the state and the district.
Duffy called Buck “a very nice person,” and said while he genuinely likes and respects her, he does not believe her voting record is in line with District 49. “I think we are much more middle-of-the-road than my opponent’s voting record shows and that’s one of the major reasons to get in,” Duffy said in an hour-long interview with The Surveyor. “I think the district is changing. From Berthoud all the way to Wellington, we have had tremendous growth, and that growth and that influx of people needs representation. I don’t think our current representative in the district reflects our values.”
Duffy, who is the owner of a data-analysis firm, a married father of three and moved to Timnath, Colo., with his wife and children two years ago, explained his campaign focuses on the “three Es” of the economy, education and the environment.
After completing his MBA in finance at Rice University in Texas, Duffy worked in a renewable energy division of Chevron Inc. and gained valuable insight into energy policy. “We need energy growth in Colorado, whether it’s fracking, distributed solar, community solar,” Duffy explained and, in somewhat of a break with some factions of his party, said establishing arbitrary goals is unhelpful.
Said Duffy, “The energy question in Colorado is more about how we diversify and bridge to the future. We don’t need draconian laws where everyone drives a battery-powered car and everyone has solar power on their house. We have to look more at how we get there rather than setting arbitrary goals of, by this date we’re going to be 100-percent reliable.”
A point Duffy made throughout the interview was that issues are complex and their solutions complicated. Speaking broadly, he said, “If we’re going to be successful we have to bring the issues to the people and not just give them bumper-sticker slogans. We have to explain why it’s so complicated and why it’s so important.”
Duffy expressed support for hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” that provides natural gas supplies, a clean form of energy, to the state and the district. He said there are a number of energy firms in Colorado who do fracking, “really, really well. Then there’s other people in the state that are atrocious. If you’re doing good you get the carrot, if you’re doing bad you get the stick, that’s how we have to do it. (Firms) who are incident free, you get preferential and fast-track applications and permits. Those that … do it badly are getting another look because (they) screwed it up in the past.”
He further explained his support for fracking is also due to, if fracking operations were shut down, old coal-fired power plants will have to be restarted and doing so would create further air pollution. Duffy also said some audits need to be done on older, unused wells to cap off methane emissions.
Due to the rapid growth in Northern Colorado, Duffy said he believes water will become a major, possibly even the predominant, issue in the district within the next five years. He outlined a plan where the state would work with real estate developers to install systems in new homes where gray water could be recycled to be used to water lawns and landscaping.
He said such a system would not be mandated in homes but rather, buyers could be given the option at the time of new home construction. Such a system would be inexpensive, “about $100 worth of PVC piping,” Duffy said, and relatively easy to install at the time of construction. Duffy said such a system would save homeowners hundreds per year all the while also working as a form of water conservation. “It’s not only good for the environment, it’s good for your pocketbook, the economics of it work really, really well,” Duffy said.
Duffy said if elected he will quickly get behind the service for tuition plans set forth by, among others, for Democrat gubernatorial candidate, Noel Ginsburg. The plan is a state-wide youth apprenticeship program where high school students would work in an occupation of their choice, one which they are considering for a potential career, receiving a small paycheck and tuition credits for college.
The benefits of such a plan, according to Duffy and other supporters of the measure, are wide-ranging. Students would get real-world, hands-on experience to help discover if a certain career path is the right one for them. Companies that hire the students would get modestly-paid employees who learn their business from the ground up. Furthermore, the students would receive college credits which would help lower the cost of a higher education.
As Duffy explained of the program, “The state chips in a little bit of money, the companies chip in a little bit of money, the student gets a little bit of money to find out, to see if these kids like that track. The money accrues, and when you get to the college level or the junior college level, some of those credits will be paid for out of the fund. I think that’s something that can be done at the state level. It’s bi-partisan and it’s not going to be that expensive. It can have a huge impact for students across the socio-economic spectrum.”
Speaking on his commitment to bipartisanship, Duffy said, “My vote isn’t steeped in partisan politics. Our campaign is based upon being a little more bi-partisan. I have no problem signing on with a Republican bill. If it’s a bill that will advance Colorado I have no problem with who sponsors it. There’s been some good bills Republicans sponsored that didn’t pass that I probably would have supported.” Duffy explained rather than start at a position of “no” on a given issue, which he said is done too frequently and leads to partisan gridlock, instead he wants to start at a position of “yes” and move from there.
Asked to summarize his overall message to the voters, Duffy said, “I’m middle-of-the-road. That’s where it starts and ends. I think the voters in Berthoud, I think the voters in 49 are much more centrist than our current representation. It’s easy to practice partisan politics in District 49 that will get you elected, but it’s not going to further the district. If someone who is sitting on the fence, or who is new to the district, or is unaffiliated, ask yourself ‘are you middle-of-the-road?’ because I am too.”
Further information on Duffy’s campaign can be found on his website, www.conorforcolorado.com.
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