From waving a flag on Nixon’s bus to attending grassroots caucus meetings, both candidates for House District 27 grew up around politics.
Tim Allport, D-Arvada, was raised in Lockport, N.Y., and was raised by conservative, politically-active parents and moved to Jefferson County in 1985.
“I’m proud to say I’m the Democrat in the race now, but I was raised in a very conservative Republican family,” Allport said. “My views have changed based on my life experience. I decided to get involved because I believe civic engagement is part of the citizens’ civic responsibility.”
Libby Szabo, R-Arvada, the incumbent for District 27, has lived in the Arvada area since she was in fourth grade, where she was introduced to politics when she would go to local caucus meetings with her mother.
“She felt it was very important to attend her caucus, and she always took me with her; I kind of carried that on and thought it was important,” Szabo said. “Politics is in every aspect of our lives. If we want to have some control and say in that, we better be involved. I think that every person has a duty to serve their community.”
While both candidates were introduced to politics at an early age, their career paths took their lives in different directions.
Allport worked at the federal prison in Jefferson County for 25 years, serving as a correctional officer for five years, as a correctional counselor for 10 years and a drug treatment specialist for 10 years.
He is now an addiction counselor for First Alliance Treatment, a private treatment company, and Centennial Peaks, an acute psychiatric hospital is Louisville.
Szabo and her husband are business owners, continuing the legacy of her father-in-law’s 40-year-old machine shop in eastern Arvada. Szabo also worked in the financial industry for some time, which she said helps her better understand how that industry works.
Both candidates said the economy is an area of concern for the entire state.
“With my area of expertise, I’m confident I can help improve our policy and state laws in my area of expertise and improve the situation for everybody in our district and state,” Allport said. “Getting the economy back on track is going to be critical for everybody.”
Allport said he thinks the four major issues in Colorado are reflected in the top four budget items in the state — K-12 education, Medicaid, corrections and transportation.
Of the different governmental services, Allport said he would protect funding for education in Colorado, both K-12 and higher education, and Medicaid for the most vulnerable citizens.
“One area where we can save money is to improve our correctional treatment programs for those incarcerated and those involved in the system not incarcerated,” he said. “I would continue to look at ways to improve our infrastructure and transportation; we have to do better at improving transportation.”
Szabo said the budget is a struggle because of factors such as federal mandates, which include funding Medicaid. She said Medicaid and K-12 education use 73 percent of the state budget.
She said she believes fixing the economy can help all aspects of the budget.
“I truly believe it’s time we unleash the business community so they can start hiring folks,” she said. “I believe a lot of our other issues will be taken care of by getting people back to work because there will be a lot more people paying into the state, and therefore, that will free up more dollars to take care of the state’s business.”
Allport and Szabo agree that transportation needs to be looked.
“I was a little bit shocked that no general fund would go to transportation and things like that,” she said. “I think we need to look at our transportation system; it’s one of the core functions of our government and getting commerce to and fro and our families safely to where they need to go.”
Allport and Szabo have differing views on two Jefferson County ballot initiatives — 3A and 3B and Amendment 64.
Allport supports both measures.
“I believe that if 3A and 3B don’t pass, we’re going to look at even deeper cuts; there’s just nowhere else to cut, especially considering Jeffco alone has already had major, significant cuts and it’s going to get worse,” Allport said.
In terms of marijuana, Allport said he supports the legalization of it because its legalization can help the government regulate it, like alcohol.
“I don’t take the position, however, that marijuana is benign,” he said. “We could better regulate marijuana and keep it out of the hands of our kids if we treat it like alcohol. As it is now, it’s the most widely-used illegal drug and there are no problems with people being able to get a hold of it.”
He said as long as long it is legal and adults smoke it once or twice a month in a way where they do not hurt anyone else, he does not see a problem.
“The overwhelming evidence is clear in my mind that it’s less dangerous than alcohol,” Allport said.
Szabo said she is not taking a public stand on issues on the ballot because they should reflect the voice of the people, not the Legislature, because the issue was taken to the people, not to the congressional representatives.
“It’s the voice of the people,” she said. “They’re asking the people, they didn’t bring it to the Legislature.”