EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado - Chuck McConnell is a business guy; he's started them and grown them.
He says Eagle and Routt counties need someone in Colorado's state House of Representatives who knows business, and that's why he's running for the House District 26 seat.
"My background is business and that's what I get excited about," he said. "If those opportunities arise I'd like to help facilitate them. I'd help bring economic development to the area, but it has to fit and be supported by the residents."
Economic development works best when we take advantage of the opportunities right in front of us, he said. Some economic development is hindered by too little imagination and too much regulation, he said.
"We have opportunities right now if we can get past the overburdening regulations," he said.
Some regulations are necessary, he said. Some are just silly.
"There are 98 pages of regulations for childcare centers and not one word about the care and feeding of children," he said.
Members of the state House of Representatives can impact regulations, he said.
"Republican House members have agreed with the governor that businesses need to be regulated in a more sensible manner," McConnell said.
For example, an entrepreneur wanted to capture methane gas being thrown off by coal mining, and use it to generate electricity. Methane is more pernicious than carbon dioxide, and it's a renewable resource, McConnell said.
A bill allowing it passed the House but was killed in the Senate when a Front Range group opposed it for reasons that still remain unclear, McConnell said.
He spent most of his career in the oil and gas business, and ran refineries in Oklahoma, Alaska and Louisiana.
"At work I'd say, 'Did I earn when they paid me today?'" he said.
He brought the family to Colorado as often as possible, and when the opportunity came to move here, he grabbed it.
"Ten years ago I had the opportunity to decide where I wanted live the rest of my life," McConnell said.
They decided on Steamboat Springs.
His years of business experience across the country taught him that Central Colorado's ski counties are not in this alone, he said.
"There's nothing like a good economy nationwide to convince people to visit Vail, Avon and Steamboat and enjoy what we enjoy," McConnell said.
Engineer at heart
He has a bachelor's and master's in chemical engineering and McConnell's inner engineer never gets too far away.
He keeps a spreadsheet of the hundreds of events functions he's attended and thousands of people he has met. He moves from picnic to parade, table to table greeting people, introducing himself, remembering names. He meets someone and makes a note of it.
He has plenty of windshield time to work his system. His campaign spreadsheet has logged more than 8,000 miles.
"It's the engineer in me," he said.
His campaign ads have tended to take the high road - "I'm not a politician, but I play one on the radio," he jokes.
He favors fracking - hydraulic fracturing - to get at deep oil and gas in rock formations. It's controversial in some circles, but drilling and fracking are being done safely all over the state, and says Gov. John Hickenlooper has come out in favor of it.
"I'm a conservative and have been all my life," he said. "During the last presidential election my interest was piqued with the move toward more centralized economics."
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.