On Friday I sat down with Tim Bessler, the Republican candidate for Colorado House District 53, and what I found shattered expectations.
Bessler is a hulking figure with a steady speaking pace and an understated, calming demeanor. From his website, timbesslerforhouse.com, one can see a diverse number of policy stances he has advocated for. But, these concise descriptions online pale to the vigor with which Bessler explained them to me, as he demonstrated a sophisticated understanding of every issue on the ballot.
A self-described pragmatist, Bessler’s political philosophy is one for individual liberty, facilitated unobtrusively by government. Citing “incongruities” within the current Republican Party, dominated by neo-cons and the Tea Party, he hopes to redefine the image of the Republican Party by establishing consistency between ideals of the party platform. His ideal presidents include famous Republicans, President Abraham Lincoln and President Teddy Roosevelt.
I don’t think it would be a stretch at all to call Bessler “solution-minded”or “data driven.” When it comes to energy policy, Bessler argues that we should move to renewable energy sources as they increasingly become economically viable, but also that we engage in a diverse set of energy sources including oil and natural gas. He argues for restraint and stewardship of the environment through conservation, and to limit unnecessary energy consumption when possible.
One can see this trend of analytic solutions in a video of Bessler speaking at Ignite Fort Collins on high capacity magazine bans. Using a reasoned and step-by-step approach, with breakdowns of where gun violence occurs and what causes it, the Republican brings what is often a partisan shouting match on gun rights to a much more productive form of debate.
Fixing transportation infrastructure is a popular talking point in Colorado politics right now, and Bessler is no exception to the rule. His ideas are ambitious, such as a light rail that stretches from Denver to the Lory Student Center in Fort Collins, and also taxpayer friendly, opposing privately owned toll roads that most citizens see little benefit from.
To clear up one concern, in my previous piece about Tim Bessler’s opponent Jeni Arndt, I commented that a video made by Bessler might have misogynistic tones. Whatever the content of the video, his policies on issues are far more informative about his beliefs. He hopes for an expansion or replication of a Denver program that freely provided over 30,000 IUDs to low income women with wide-reaching positive results. He stands for improved enforcement of wage discrimination based on sex, gender, age or race.
What is most striking about Bessler is his consistently insightful opinions. His wonkish understanding of how political systems work, with intersecting viewpoints, ideologies and context can be confusing to the average listener, but upon consideration his ideas make sense. No stance is without strong and often scientific evidence supporting his conclusions. Such attention to detail indicates he would stand as an impressive candidate likely to write impressive pieces of legislation if granted the opportunity.
After interviewing both Jeni Arndt and Tim Bessler, I glimpsed a new side of politics rarely seen on the national stage. These two individuals care about public service, community improvement and improving the lives of the people around them. They largely agree on important issues to me like limiting tuition increases at public universities. Choosing which to endorse has been difficult, as each brings prudent and refreshingly nuanced ideas to the table. If asked to predict the result of the campaign, I would respond that Jeni Arndt will almost certainly win in a district that has voted blue for decades. But she should offer Tim Bessler a job, because his talented mind would prove invaluable in building up Colorado and our local community.
Collegian Editor Zack Burley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter by @zackburley.