Newcomer vies for 3rd District seat in Congress | AspenTimes.com

Newcomer vies for 3rd District seat in Congress

Andre Salvail
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

ASPEN – With no political party allegiances and a grassroots budget, logic would dictate that Tisha Casida faces an uphill climb in her quest for Colorado’s 3rd District congressional seat.

At 30 years old, she’s the youngest candidate in the race, which conventional wisdom would handicap as a two-way contest between Republican incumbent Scott Tipton and state Sen. Sal Pace, a Democrat.

But those who go to the Pitkin County Library between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Friday to meet her might discover a woman with a ball-of-fire personality who carries the ability to speak knowledgeably on just about anything and everything.

“I want to be a statesman, not a politician,” Casida said during a Thursday afternoon interview at The Aspen Times. A theme that ran throughout the discussion centered on her disdain of Washington, D.C., politics as usual and the federal government’s mishandling of U.S. economic and social policy.

The Pueblo marketing consultant, who grew up on a small farm in nearby Vineland, is running for elected office for the first time. She describes herself as a fiscal conservative with “a very free attitude” on social policy. She believes America would be much better off if the federal government would stay out of the way of small businesses, stop tramping on the Constitution and hand off control of most major issues to state and local governments.

“One more license or one more fee can be just too much for business and stop them completely,” Casida said. “I’ve been personally affected by it, as have many of my clients and friends. I want to be a voice for these people who are having a hard time making it.”

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Casida discussed her positions on a wide array of issues:

Fracking: While she understands that there are environmental concerns about the controversial oil-and-gas-industry practice of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” Casida said regulatory oversight should rest with local governments.

“I think there are responsible ways of fracking, but it needs to be taken to a county-by-county level, where constituents not only have a voice in the rules and regulations, but they should also be the direct beneficiaries of that lease and that money. If it’s public land, the money that’s paid for that lease should go directly to the constituents in the community, not the government. Pay the people. It’s a different way of looking at it but completely possible.”

The environment: Casida said some EPA guidelines are not necessary and serve to hinder the private sector.

“We need to get rid of the fight,” she said. “We need to look at some of the problems the EPA immediately causes for small businesses, agricultural producers or energy companies. We need to take some of those arguments to a local level.”

Political parties: Though some have described her outlook as distinctly Libertarian, Casida is unaffiliated and said she is not a fan of any party.

“I think any party is a collective interest and erodes the rights of the individual,” she said. “I really stay away from labels because they’re incredibly dangerous, and I have problems with every party. I just want to talk about the issues and how we’re going to deal with them.”

Abortion: In her eyes, the federal government should steer clear of any role in telling women what to do with their bodies.

“Even if they passed a law today, it wouldn’t stop abortion,” Casida said. “It’s something that the states should decide. If a state’s citizens want to work the issue, that’s the place for it. That being said, we’re looking at it like a doctor, just at the symptoms. I want to focus on what’s causing it. We need to look at why young women are forgetting about the sanctity of life and why they are having abortions. Instead of spending so much money and time yelling back and forth at each other, why don’t we as a community get inside our own community and try to help these young women? It seems so backwards to me that the people with the problem aren’t really part of the fight. Don’t be judgmental. Love one another. Help each other. You cannot legislate morality.”

• Medical marijuana: Casida thinks the federal drug war is a failure and that states should decide the issue.

“The federal government should be completely out of it,” she said. “The drug war is a waste of time and money. As for medical marijuana, I think that having a plant that’s been proven to help people with their ailments – and has never been proven to kill anybody – should not be illegal. And people have a right to consume whatever they want. If states are smart, they’ll regulate and tax it. Not the federal government, which I believe is just an inefficient money collector. But my own personal opinion is that it’s just a plant.”

The election will be held Nov. 6.

asalvail@aspentimes.com