House District 61 candidate profile: Debra Irvine follows pro-business line
Ryan Summerlin October 22, 2012
BRECKENRIDGE – Breckenridge artist Debra Irvine bills herself, following the GOP line, as the small business candidate, condemning overbearing government regulations and restrictions.
She says over-regulation and taxation on the private sector stifles growth and entrepreneurship.
She has two favorite anecdotes of excessive government regulation – although the policy implications of the stories are unclear – that have resurfaced at multiple candidate forums.
The first is the tale of a painter, who struggles with the huge expense of a government regulation requiring him to put down a 10-foot perimeter of black plastic around any house he is painting. When the job is done, the company has to remove the plastic and take it to the dump – another hindering expense. The second anecdote details the trials of a glass company owner, who has stopped working on houses built before 1978 because government regulations require extensive safety measures, including hazardous materials suits when crews are replacing glass on any building that uses lead-based paint.
The solutions to problems like these “would be industry specific,” she said. “We need to defend reasonable regulations with regard to safety and health, but when it becomes burdensome to a company, then we need to stand up to it.”
Irvine is challenging sitting state Rep. Millie Hamner (D – Dillon) and three third- party candidates – Independent Kathleen Curry, Libertarian Ellen Temby and American Constitution Party candidate Robert Petrowsky – for the House District 61 seat in November.
Going into the job of state representative, Irvine said she wouldn’t have an agenda except to represent the interests of the district, and when asked where she’s prepared to take an ax to the state budget if elected, her answer is simple: she’d rather not.
“I think we need to concentrate on creating revenue in order to avoid making huge cuts,” Irvine said. “You look at some of the other states that are encouraging business – Texas is one of them, North Dakota is another – that’s where revenue comes in. If you concentrate on boosting small business growth, then you’ll create more revenue.”
She said she would be a strong advocate for tourism in Denver, and not just ski tourism. She advocates promoting heritage tourism and summer attractions.
Irvine was born in New Jersey to a military family and spent the better part of her childhood and adolescence living abroad.
She grew up, for the most part, near a ski resort in Germany where she worked as a ski instructor before her marriage at age 22.
In addition to fluency in four languages – German, French, Italian and English – Irvine says her years abroad left her with the ability to respect cultural differences and a deep sense of patriotism.
“You were always an American abroad, and your home was always in the United States,” she said. “You also have a better sense of representing your country proudly.”
Irvine moved back to the U.S. with her first husband, who was also in the military.
They relocated to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs in the 1980s, where Irvine’s only son, Byron, was born.
Soon after, her first marriage ended and Irvine was a single mom until she married her current husband, Rob four years later.
The two bought property in southern Breckenridge almost 20 years ago, knowing that they would eventually retire in Summit County.
Irvine says she was an artist and a Republican from the beginning.
When she returned to Colorado, she became active in the GOP, helping to rebuild the party’s local presence.
“She did a great job revitalizing the Summit County Republican Party,” Lake County Republican chair Merilee Maupin said. “Summit County was there but they weren’t a real player, and Debra became a real player.”
She served as chair of the Summit County Republicans for several years before tossing her name in the hat for House District 56 – Summit County’s district prior to last year’s reapportionment – against Democrat Christine Scanlan.
“I didn’t want to see the incumbent go unopposed,” she said.
Scanlan won a decisive victory, scoring 62 percent of the vote in Summit County and 58 percent across the county.
Two years later, Irvine is again looking to unseat a Democrat, former Summit School District Superintendent Hamner, after winning her primary race against Delta paralegal David Justice, who later endorsed her.