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HD 54: Chase, Soper

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Thea Chase, unaffiliated/independent, and Matt Soper, Republican, are vying for the House District 54 seat.

Chase is from Palisade, where she serves on the town council. She believes in sustainable economies and is involved in service through initiatives such as ENGAGE.

Republican Matt Soper was born and raised Delta County and is trying to be the first person in 54 years elected out of Delta to serve in state legislature. He has several law degrees, including one in British law.

Chase was asked about regulating immigration. She said rural areas rely on immigrant labor and she wants to help influence federal legislators streamline processes for visas and access to work in the U.S.

Soper was asked about his position on coal mining in Delta County. He acknowledged that coal production has declined, but that's created other opportunities for Delta County. He wants to focus on agriculture and associated industries.

When asked who is funding her campaign, Chase responded that the money comes from individuals.

Soper was then asked if he is in support or opposition of net neutrality. "I see this as a federal issue," he said. He thinks the internet should reflect the free market. Businesss should have equal access to the speed they need.

Chase was asked about the greatest opportunity/challenges facing the district. "Education funding is clearly a disgrace," she said. Opportunities need to be provided for workforce training, too, she said.

Soper was asked if he supports broadband in Colorado. "Looking toward the future it's going to take a new mechanism to support rural Colorado," he said.

Chase was asked her opinion regarding leasing public lands for oil and gas development. She is in support, but wants to make sure it's done safely. "We have an opportunity to not only focus on oil and gas ... but also to move forward and get into the next thing," she said, referring to alternative energy.

"Funding the Colorado water plan is my number one priority," said Soper in response to his next question. Second, he wants to fight for a statewide transportation plan to revitalize the ability to move goods and services.

Chase's final question focused on what the state should do to address the opioid crisis. She thinks too many opioids are being prescribed, first, and that the problem has many facets. More counseling and resources beforehand to high-stress and at-risk people are needed, she said.

Soper's final question was, "What can the state do to help local communities prepare for drought?"

He said the number one way is to fund the water plan.

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