House candidates square off at Club 20 debates

Candidates for House Districts 54 and 55 tussled in their first public debates Saturday at the Club 20 fall meeting, touching on policy issues involving water, economic development, education and

Unaffiliated Thea Chase and Republican Matt Soper, candidates for House District 54, sparred first in a debate that began with them agreeing on issues where they had common ground and ended with a cross-examination where they jabbed at each other.

Soper, a legal scholar who grew up in Delta County, earned money through college by picking corn and earned his first of four higher-education degrees at Colorado Mesa University. He also served on Orchard City's town council.

Chase, who currently serves as a Palisade town trustee, has spent much of her career helping businesses grow, working in economic development. She joined the ballot in August after being recruited by a group called Unite Colorado.

"I want to put forward policy and broker deals across the aisle that serve the people of western Colorado and I can be 100 percent focused on the constituents and their needs and not just what the party's telling you," Chase said.

Soper and Chase agreed on the need to enhance the economic health of the district and fix skills gaps between what's taught in educational programs and what the job market needs.

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  • Erin McIntyre