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Former CSU student runs for city council, hopes to engage community

It has been 10 years since Colorado State University alumnus Duane Hansen has worked in the popular hookah lounge, Algiers.

Alternating from schooling and from one job to another, Hansen graduated from CSU last December with a degree in political science. Now, sitting at the smoke lounge that he once worked in and still frequents, Hansen is pursuing the city council seat held by incumbent Ross Cunniff, representing Fort Collins’ fifth representative district.

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Hansen’s campaign is built around six areas: housing, transportation, economy, veterans, government overreach and engagement.

Some of Hansen’s ideas regarding these areas include the construction of a complex with partnership between the city and local business that would be used to provide housing for the homeless while also providing workshops that would teach employable skills to the homeless.

Hansen also aims to make reforms to the current U+2 ordinance, which he hopes would ease the financial burden of students and low-moderate income individuals in Fort Collins.

Hansen says that while he was dabbling with the idea of campaigning for public office during the closing days of his education in CSU, it was during one of Councilman Cunniff’s listening sessions when he decided to throw his chips in.

“I didn’t even know who my representative was,” said Hansen as he exhaled a cloud of cantaloupe-scented smoke.

“When I showed up (to Cunniff’s listening sessions), I was going to try to be incognito… I had brought two issues to him. A lot of students that I (spoke) to while I was a student representative had felt that the city treats them as nothing more than an engine for revenue. I pointed to RP3 (Residential Parking Permit Program), U+2 and the Social Host Ordinance… they were adding up and extracting money from the student population.”

“The other issue I brought up, because I also represented veteran students and work in the veteran community, a lot of what I hear is a severe shortage of Section 8 housing in Fort Collins… When I brought these two points up to the councilman, his response was, ‘Thank you, next,’” Hansen said. “I’m campaigning to win.”

Hansen has almost six years worth of experience in student government. When he was attending the Front Range Community College, Hansen was a liaison to a number of state legislative bodies, representing 163,000 community college students in Colorado. When he attended CSU, Hansen was the senator representing the Adult Learner and Veteran Services office.

“One of my big platform planks is engagement… You haven’t heard Ross Cunniff doing a lot of outreach. There’s been a smattering of listening sessions and that’s about it,” Hansen said as he relayed his experiences throughout the six years he has been pursuing an education.

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“When I started (in ASCSU), most of the students in (ALVS), pretty much (said), ‘It’s student government—get real.’ By the end of my tenure, I had very engaged students. And, these were the same people, who three years ago said, ‘that’s adorable,’ are now asking me questions.”

While Hansen acknowledges Cunniff’s name recognition as the incumbent councilman, he has high hopes that his “guerilla campaign” becomes a success.

“I hope that you will view me as a serious candidate, one who is looking to actively engage with members of the community,” Hansen said.

Collegian reporter Gabriel Go can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @rgabrielgo.

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