Joe O’Dea is running as a Republican in the Colorado Senate race against incumbent Democratic Senator Michael Bennet. O’Dea is a first-time politician and is the 30-year CEO of a Colorado construction company that employs 300 workers.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Question: When you talk to Colorado voters, what are they most concerned about right now?
Joe O’Dea: Look, all they’re talking about is inflation, crime, and parents. They’re talking about education a little bit, too, but mostly it’s inflation, cost of gas, cost of their heating bills coming up, cost of groceries. And then this record crime that’s taking over our city. It’s up 30% in the last two years.
Q: What can be done to increase access to housing? When you see that as an issue in the state, what’s your strategy there?
JO: Well, there’s two things. The cost of housing is being driven by the cost of diesel, cost of fuel, everything gets delivered to a building site in some kind of diesel truck, and those prices are up 30%, 35% — delivery is. And the other thing that’s really bogged down Colorado is some of the red tape that’s in the way of building affordable housing.
I’ll give you an example. Back in ’04,’03, they passed a bill in the state that was called Construction Defect and …extended the warranty for eight to ten years, depending on how you’re reading the bill. And so that put an enormous amount of cost onto builders. It basically eliminated the condominium product here in Colorado because of the cost of ensuring something like that so that you would have enough there to pay for any defect that showed up ten years later. That has eliminated a lot of people’s ability to buy a first home. My wife and I lived in a condo for the first four years of our lives, married life, and that product is gone. And so it’s a combination of government red tape and it’s a combination of cost of goods that has been driven up by a Democratic fuel policy that has more than put $1.50 a gallon onto the cost of gas, $2.50 onto the cost of diesel. And those two elements are driving this cost.
Q: What can be done to improve access to health care in Colorado?
JO: Well, we need innovation. We need to support competition. Again, government red tape is causing the cost of a lot of this health care to drive up. And the fact that working Americans that are buying their own insurance are having to subsidize people that don’t have insurance is driving the cost up for working Americans. We need to get [the] government out of the way so that we can promote good competition across the markets. We should allow multiple providers into different areas so that they have a choice. And when we do that, we flood the market with the availability of this health care that then the price is going to be driven down.
Q: What can be done to address inflation and the cost of those really essential items in Colorado?
JO: Well, the first thing we got to do is get government out of the way. Right now, the Biden-Bennet regime, they walked into office two years ago to basically kill the [Keystone] XL pipeline, killed permitting on federal lands, have made it extremely difficult to build any kind of energy source in our nation.
It’s taken 12 years to get permitting done for some of the windmill farms that they’d like to build. It’s taking 10 years, 12 years, for [a] solar panel farm that would generate good, clean energy. And at the same time, they’ve basically made it almost impossible to drill for good, clean natural gas here in Colorado and across our nation. That’s a fuel source that has helped to lower emissions more than any other fuel source in the last ten years. Across Colorado, it’s made an enormous difference in our emissions. If we were to flood the Asian market with good, clean natural gas, we would begin to lower worldwide emissions from some of the dirty energy that they’re using over in China. And so this is a chance for us to make a difference. Not only lowering inflation, it’ll have an extreme amount on inflation — right out of the gate — as soon as the supply goes up, the cost goes down, and it’ll help us manage this inflation as quick as we can turn this around.
Q: What do you think can be done to improve education and access to education?
JO: Well, this is really a personal issue for me. I’m a product of school choice. I got in some trouble when I was a kid in junior high school. My dad and mom moved me
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