AVON — Nicki Mills grew up in a small northern Minnesota town, working the food bank alongside her grandmother, mother and aunt and hanging out in the deer stand every hunting season. She founded a K-8 Montessori School and worked in the coal industry.
Now she is running as the Republican candidate for House District 26, which represents Eagle and Routt counties in the mountains around Steamboat Springs and Vail.
Mills laments that when she looks at what’s happening to Colorado, the state she loves and has called home since 2008, she is at a loss for words.
“I’m sick and tired of going to my friends’ going away parties because they can’t afford to live here because of the high cost of housing and healthcare,” Mills said. “That is really sad, and it’s one of the driving forces, and why I hope to make a difference.
She is facing Dylan Roberts, who was appointed to the seat in Oct. 2017 to replace Diane Mitsch Bush, a Democrat who is running for U.S. Congress.
Mills believes her maturity and life experiences are better equipped to cross party lines and get the work done.
“Not being a career politician allows me to be able to reach across the aisle and get people to work together,” she said. “I think that has been one of my lifelong skills, bringing people together. I haven’t seen evidence of cooperation across party lines from my opponent. That’s where I think I’m going to make the difference because I’m a relationship person.”
Mills sat down with Complete Colorado to talk about her stance on all the issues facing Colorado.
TAXPAYER’S BILL OF RIGHTS (TABOR) — “That is something I want to see continue. As a taxpayer, I am so happy that I have rights that allow me make decisions about where my tax dollars are going. I come from Minnesota, and there we don’t have TABOR, so our income taxes are higher. Our property taxes are higher. Our sales taxes are higher. I think Colorado has done a good job of keeping them lower because we have TABOR in place.”
EDUCATIONAL CHOICE — “I’ve always been a big advocate for school choice. At 16, I had the opportunity to take my high school classes in college and get credit for both. That really gave me an advantage in life, getting ahead of the game. So, when it comes to other parents I want them to have that choice in where they send their kids. Having alternatives really opens the doors for innovation, and we should promote schools that are working toward being innovated and changing the standards. Anytime there is innovation it improves test scores. But what we’re doing now is putting more and more money into education, and we’re not seeing big improvements.”
ENERGY — “Reaching toward a goal of 100 percent renewable energy is really expensive. It would be so costly to Colorado. Right now, we have a good economy going. To lose the energy industry in oil and gas and coal would be really devastating in the amount of jobs that would be lost, as well as all the taxes that are generated, property taxes, income taxes, severance taxes. We would lose so much of that. I think it would be devastating to our economy and everyday life. What we would be paying for our electric bills and our utility bills would be one more reason that people wouldn’t be able to afford living here. We need to support all forms of energy.”
TRANSPORTATION — “I think because I come from a small town, my focus would be on our local community. A main concern of my constituents is travel between here and Denver on I-70 because a lot of times we have traffic jams that set you back hours, and that can be very costly. Right now, we pay taxes that go into the big state budget and there is money available through the budget. Let’s use that first. I’ve talked to people (in the state House and Senate), and I do think the money is there. I also know that CDOT has a priority for their plan, but I’m not sure their priority should be all of Colorado’s priority. Just because they say it’s a priority doesn’t mean it’s in the best interest, for example, of the Western Slope.
SECOND AMENDMENT — I come from a background of growing up in the woods, and I have fond memories of being in the deer stand with my mom when I was very, very, young. And that is a tradition I want to continue with my children. I want them to be able to have the same rights that I grew up with, so when there is talk of the government imposing more and more restriction on those rights, that makes me worried. An AR-15 is a semi-automatic gun that I don’t believe that just because people have associated that name with something scary, that we should take always people’s rights to own them. The magazine ban I don’t think is effective in making a difference in the safety issue people try to connect to it.”