Robert Petrowsky, Leadville resident running for House District 61, is grounded in his upbringing on his family's corn farm - working long days while going to school has shaped his values of defending the rights of citizens.
As the only American Constitution Party candidate, he is running for political office because during his life on the farm he says he witnessed the extreme overreach of government.
In one case, Petrowsky even brought the U.S. Department of Agriculture to the Supreme Court for price fixing and market manipulation. Petrowsky, who was attending the University of Kansas at the time, brought an injunction against the USDA but the case was dismissed as a political question not dealing with the law.
"In 2002, following the case, the exchange rates went down," Petrowsky said. "I am a firm believer that that case directly affected the exchange rates and gave farmers like myself and my family a better ability to sell overseas."
The case against the USDA was Petrowsky's first splash in the political world, and it is with that experience that shaped his desire to loosen the grasp of government. In this respect, Petrowsky is an advocate for bringing forest health back to a state level.
"The U.S. Forest Service hasn't done anything," he said. "I'm not a believer of depending on the government for something a business could do and flourish. I've been saying this for the last nine years: Why are we spending tax dollars to pay for them to clean up a forest? I know a thousand different people who would love to have access to a logging permit."
Petrowsky, the youngest candidate in the HD 61 race, is running for his first political office but says his knowledge and upbringing will represent Summit County and solve "problems that have been stagnant for too long."
"One of my assets is that I have the ability to look over a problem and not just dive in with my heart," Petrowsky said. "I think that a lot of the current representatives and candidates don't research and get firm knowledge on the problems we face."
Petrowsky says that he doesn't think government should inhibit what citizens want to do.
"I'm generally socially conservative but my stance on regulating is socially liberal - I don't care what you do," he said. "On the monetary side though, I'm very fiscally conservative. I don't think the government needs to spend money to get something done."
His hands-off government philosophy is reflected through his position on important issues.
Petrowsky and his fellow candidates diverged on Amendment 64, which would legalize recreational marijuana use.
"From a personal rights perspective, I don't feel I have any right to tell someone what they can do in their home. I believe the voters should decide," he said.
Irvine cited an increase in the number of school suspensions and expulsions this year because of the use or possession of marijuana. She is concerned Colorado will become a distribution center, because we will be the only state in the nation that will have legalized marijuana.
Incumbent representative Hamner said the amendment would probably receive a 'no' vote.
"That's not one of my top priorities," Hamner said. "I will tell you as a former teacher and superintendent, I'm very concerned about the message we might be sending our children if we start talking about marijuana the same way we talk about alcohol. I am most likely voting no."
Petrowsky, now 30, was born in Pratt, Kan., and grew up on his family's corn farm.
"The place I was born doesn't even exist anymore - it got wiped out completely by a tornado about six years ago," he said.
While attending the Kansas State University, Petrowsky dedicated much of his time to working on the farm while researching the history of laws that encumbered his industry. Through his research he found out that many states have relinquished their power over agriculture regulations to the federal government.
After three years at the Kansas State University studying nuclear and mechanical engineering, Petrowsky switched paces and moved to Leadville when he was 21, enrolling in Colorado Mountain College's ski industry operation program.
In 2006, Petrowsky was arrested and faced a domestic violence charge. The charge was dropped soon after the incident and the police officer that made the arrest and filed the report lost his certification for other incidents.
"That experience really gave me a huge view into how damaging a bad police department can be to its community," Petrowsky said. "The man who called the police on me was later turned in for child molestation but nothing ever happened."
Since then, Petrowsky has lived briefly in both Summit County and Avon before moving back to Leadville where he now owns a home and is employed as a 911 dispatcher for Vail police.
"Campaigning has been an interesting experience - I've met a lot of great people. I'm really learning by knocking on doors that people generally have the same concerns. If people really would put aside their bickering, we could really work together and accomplish something that works for everyone," Petrowsky said.
If elected, Petrowsky said he will bring all parties together for negotiations on possible legislation.
"I don't think a lot of politicians have the ability to come together," he said. "Bills wouldn't be so conflicting if representatives could just come together and draft them correctly. My goal is to bring conversations together early in the process and do things right from the very beginning."