Derec Shuler wants to be my state senator. He's running for the Senate District 34 seat in northwest Denver recently vacated by Paula Sandoval. He's a Republican in a heavily Democratic district. We live on the same street and both married well -- enough in common that I thought we should chat.
MK: Go ahead and give us the quick and dirty version of your bio.
DS: My wife, Camille, and I live in the Sloan's Lake neighborhood of Northwest Denver. I'm currently a small business owner and work in the real estate industry. Before that, I worked in the corporate world as a project manager and engineer in the technology sector. I spent a few years overseas working with the Departments of State and Defense which was a really neat experience and I had some unique opportunities.
Other than that, I'm a Captain in the Army Reserves, spent my early years growing up on a farm, and enjoy the outdoors.
Mk: Obvious question, but why are you running for senate?
DS: I bring ideas I don't hear well represented in the race for the Colorado senate in NW Denver. We need strong leadership and bold ideas to turn our economy around. This includes supporting the small businesses and entrepreneurs, who create 86% of Colorado jobs, with a low cost operating and regulatory environment so they can be successful and create jobs in our community.
We need to get past party labels and start talking about issues. My friends call me a "progressive" Republican because I'm a fiscal conservative, independent-minded, and embrace sustainability, environmental stewardship, and community service.
One of the big issues in our community is failing schools. As a state senator, I'll be committing to making sure school systems have the tools, processes and flexibility to respond to the needs of students in their area to deliver a high-quality education that prepares students and gives them the skills and background to be successful.
I'm a firm believer in the principles that our nation was built on, the power of the individual, limited government, personal responsibility, and free enterprise. I don't like government positioned as the solution to our challenges.
Finally, more people need to get involved to make a difference in our community. We need to take more ownership and responsibility ourselves and also support the non-profits we have doing great work in our area.
MK: My backyard is dirt, weeds and dogs. Yours is an urban farm. What all do you have going on there?
DS: Camille and I are committed to living more sustainable lifestyles because it's a core value of ours and we enjoy being more self-sufficient. We've transformed our brick and nicely manicured yard into a more functional area. We have 7 hens that enjoy free ranging around the backyard, a lot of growing space we've recently expanded this season, some angora rabbits that Camille plans on knitting something from one of these days, and a couple bee hives.
It's still a work in progress and a big project!
MK: Do your chickens have names?
DS: Yes, all of them are named after grandmothers and they've been a lot of fun. Each of them has unique personalities and it can be therapeutic watching them.
MK: You obviously get the sustainability movement, and a key part of that is local zoning. But what, if any role do you see for the legislature in empowering individuals to make values-driven sustainability choices in an urban environment?
DS: Here in Northwest Denver, we've had a lot of debate on zoning and discussions on food producing animals. Zoning is a local issue and I won't be able to wade too far into that debate as a state senator.
What we can do is make it easier for people to grow and sell locally produced food to support the community and neighborhood based programs like Feed Denver and Denver Heirloom Gardens who are doing a lot of expand urban agriculture and teach the skills needed to grow food and raise food producing animals.
MK: The Democrat-controlled legislature passed a 30 percent renewable energy mandate this year. They seem okay with the mandate being subsidized by higher power bills, including for the working poor and the elderly. Wind and solar are fine things in and of themselves, but should we be trying be push along a "new energy" economy through mandate and subsidy for renewables that lack efficiencies and scale?
DS: A personal commitment to renewable and alternative energy, along with conservation, is good and noble thing.
I'm against government mandates like the new 30% renewable mandate which we saw passed this past legislative session. Individuals and families who can afford to pay extra for renewable energy already have the option with Xcel Energy to purchase energy produced from renewable sources.
Xcel has also said this mandate isn't necessary for them to reach a 30% renewable goal if the market demand is there.
It's neither fair nor moral to force additional costs to lower income households that are struggling to get by and put food on the table when we have much cheaper energy sources here in Colorado. The new Comanche III power station coming online in the next couple months is an example of our ability to produce energy for a fourth the cost of photovoltaic (PV) solar using clean coal from Colorado.
We need a smart energy plan with all options on the table, including clean coal, natural gas, nuclear, wind, solar, and geothermal.
MK: Thanks, we'll continue this another time.
DS: Thanks for the opportunity to address issues important to northwest Denver. If readers have more questions, I'd love to hear from them at www.ShulerforColorado.org