House District 49 candidates disagree on issues, including energy and minimum wage
October 24, 2016
For candidates with the same goal of representing House District 49, Republican incumbent Perry Buck and Democratic challenger Adrian "Buzz" Sweeney differ in many ways.
House District 49 covers roughly 2,500 square miles, including Larimer County outside Fort Collins and Loveland, and it includes Windsor and farms and several municipalities in west Weld County.
Buck, a Windsor resident, said she was raised around serving the public in elected offices. Her parents held public positions such as school board member and county commissioner. Her husband is Congressman Ken Buck.
"I feel like so much has been given and so much can be given back," she said. "This is my way of giving public service."
Buck is a third-generation Coloradan. She attended Fort Lewis College before finishing her bachelor's degree in English at Pepperdine University.
Her political career began in 1999 as a business development representative for the governor's office.
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In contrast to Buck's experience is Sweeney, who is campaigning for his first position in public office.
Sweeney lives in Livermore and grew up in Haddonfield, N.J. He earned a bachelor's degree in elementary education from Cedarville College in Ohio and taught in public schools there.
He moved to Colorado with his wife, Anita, and one of his favorite refrains is, "Why would anyone want to live anywhere else?"
"I have traveled internationally and discovered that the commonality between all people is the desire for safe, comfortable and happy lives," Sweeney said.
He said he is running for office to give voters a real choice at the polls.
He hopes to bring his fresh perspective to fight for fair wages, environmentally friendly fuel alternatives, transportation and education.
Buck said the key things on her agenda concern education, expanding I-25 and housing.
Perhaps two of the most pronounced differences in opinion between Buck and Sweeney are energy and raising the minimum wage.
Sweeney believes strongly in environmentally conscious energy sources, such as wind and solar, and slowly transitioning District 49 to these sources.
"Renewable energy is definitely in our future," he said. "I am not proposing that we say in five years we are going to make it. It has to be a thoughtful transition but it has to be made."
Buck argues oil and gas regulation are better left to the free market and property owners.
She is against mandating land be set aside for solar or wind and brought up the danger of wind turbines for birds.
She said she believes in all energy and mentioned technology is changing every day to make fossil fuels and natural gas safer for the environment.
Similar to energy, Buck doesn't want to regulate private business when it comes to raising the mandatory minimum wage.
She opposes a proposed amendment to the constitution that would raise the state's minimum wage for untipped labor to $12 per hour by 2020.
"It's heavy handed," she said. "I think there is enough pressure out there for good employment, but to put a mandate on some of these small businesses that they spend more on labor, I don't think that's right."
Sweeney supports raising the minimum wage to $12. He said while he finds $12 per hour to be a low number, he thinks it is a step in the right direction.