Conservative platform drives Korkowski’s House bid
Luke Korkowski views the state of Colorado as broken, and he aims to bring a change in political mindset to the state House of Representatives that he believes will be needed to fix things.
“Through short-sightedness, a confused and contradictory state constitution, and a political culture that does not promote healthy, in-depth discussion, we have created an unsustainable political and fiscal situation,” says Korkowski, the Republican candidate for the Colorado House District 61 seat in the Nov. 2 election.
“We have to change that, and I plan to,” he told the Post Independent.
A political newcomer, Korkowski is a 36-year-old business transactional attorney from Crested Butte. He initially had ambitions to seek the Republican nomination to run for Colorado’s U.S. Senate seat. Considered a long shot, he dropped out of that race early in the campaign.
But, when the incumbent District 61 state representative, Kathleen Curry of Gunnison, changed her political affiliation from Democrat to independent late last year and was forced to run for re-election as a write-in candidate, Korkowski was encouraged to run for that seat instead.
He’s now in a three-way race with Curry and Democrat Roger Wilson of Glenwood Springs to represent the district, which extends from eastern Garfield County and the Roaring Fork Valley portion of Eagle County south to Pitkin, Gunnison and Hinsdale counties.
Korkowski hasn’t held political office previously, but touts his business savvy and conservative principles as the primary attributes he would bring to the position if elected.
According to a biography he provided to the Post Independent, Korkowski earned his undergraduate degree from Baylor University, an MBA from Texas Christian University and a law degree from George Washington University Law School. He served for one year as a clerk to Justice Jim Rice on the Montana Supreme Court, writing what was considered one of that state’s most important water law opinions on behalf of Justice Rice.
In 2006, he started a solo transactional law practice in Crested Butte that provides business, real estate and estate planning legal services.
He has been married for 14 years, and has two small children.
As with many of the Republican candidates for state and local offices in Colorado this election, and on a grander national scale, Korkowski points to “jobs and spending” as the key issues in the District 61 race.
“Colorado has to find a way to enable the private marketplace to create jobs again,” he said. “We can do this by promoting predictability and stability in laws, regulations and mandates.”
Where it can, he said the state should “get out of the way of the private market.”
“And, if we need to regulate, we should place the burden on the government to make sure that compliance with such regulations is as easy as possible,” he said.
Korkowski also believes the state government has been spending too much of taxpayers’ money in recent years.
But when it comes to a projected $1 billion state budget shortfall over the coming two years, Korkowski blames what he sees as a convoluted and contradictory state constitution.
“We need to address the fundamental causes of our perpetual crises, which stem from our constitution,” he said, adding that he would introduce legislation to trim down the Colorado Revised Statutes and correct a range of conflicting constitutional amendments related to state spending.
Another bill he said he plans to draft and sponsor would create a “one-stop-shop” interactive website for small businesses to get started in Colorado.
“Right now, a small business person has to wade through myriad websites, answer confusing questions without knowing the consequences of answering them incorrectly, and then wonder with no sense of certainty whether they have done everything right,” Korkowski said. “I think we can fix this situation by streamlining the process for getting a business up and running.”
Korkowski points to his conservative principles, which he says are based primarily on protecting “life, liberty and property,” as what differentiates him from the other candidates in the race on budgetary and free market issues.
“This gives the voter a means of predicting what I will do in different situations while also giving them a means of holding me accountable,” he said.
When it comes to dealing with the various concerns around the natural gas industry in western Colorado, Korkowski said there’s a balance to be struck between job creation and environmental concerns.
“To me, there are two broad contexts in which to strike the right balance,” he said. “The first, and the easier to address, is when energy development takes place on private lands.
“We need to have a statutory scheme that gives simple, predictable guidelines that prevent industry from damaging other parties,” he said.
Beyond that, he said the state should make energy development as easy as possible.
“The same concepts apply to development on public lands, but with some added provisos,” he said.
Decisions on whether development should take place in a certain area should be made at the most local, feasible level, he said.
“The process for determining whether development should take place at all should be fair, open, and predictable,” he said.
Korkowski said he supports efforts to develop renewable energy resources in Colorado, but said he’s “skeptical” about state government involvement in developing that market through mandates.
“Governments have extremely poor track records when it comes to picking winners and losers in the marketplace,” he said.
What Korkowski may lack in political experience and the inner workings of the State Capitol, he said he makes up for with his business sense.
“I have started my own small business and have helped other people start their businesses,” he said. “That free market, risk-taking experience will give me a useful perspective when I go to the State House.
Beyond that, Korkowski said he has an open ear to those who have a different perspective.
“I enjoy, in fact I thrive on a respectful, healthy debate and discussion, which will be quite useful in the General Assembly,” he said.
For more about Luke Korkowski’s campaign, visit http://www.voteluke.com.
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