Meghan Nutting, Candidate for Colorado House District 5
Wondering what it's like to be Meghan Nutting? We recently sat down with her to find out just that!
Which office are you running for and where?
I’m running to represent House District 5 in the Colorado State House of Representatives. House District 5 is the seat currently held by our incredible Speaker of the House, Speaker Duran. She is termed out after the 2018 Legislative Session. The district is in central Denver and includes parts of Downtown, LoDo, RiNo, Five Points, Globeville and Elyria-Swansea, Sunnyside, and the Highlands to the North; and Lincoln Park, Athmar Park, Valverde, and Ruby Hill to the South. It includes two sports stadiums, a number of art districts, the National Western Complex, the Performing Arts Center, the Convention Center, the Capitol and lots of great breweries, bars and restaurants. It’s also demographically one of the youngest house districts in the state.
When is your election day?
The general election will be held on November 6, 2018, but my real fight is going to be the primary election on June 26, 2018. Because this seat is a safe Democratic seat--meaning that a Democrat will nearly always win in the district--the primary is the most important election. The Democratic caucuses will be held on March 6, 2018. This is the process through which I’ll get on the ballot.
Why did you decide to run for public office? Did someone encourage or inspire you? If so, who?
I am running for office because I love my community, my local, state, national and global community, and I want to fight for our shared values and for everyone to have a fair shot in life. I come from a working class family-- my mother was a teacher and my father was a police officer-- and they taught me the value of public service early on.
I’m running because I’m a parent: I am raising my niece, 2 year old Etta, with my sister, Morgan. I want Etta to be safe as she plays in our neighborhood and when we go to public places like stores and movie theaters. I want her to have access to great schools and teachers. And I want her to grow up healthy and happy. She currently has breathing issues because we live close to a highway, and it’s torture for both of us when I have to give her medicine through a nebulizer so that she can breathe at night. I want what’s best for her and ALL of our children and I’m ready to stand up and fight for them.
I’m also running for office because I think it’s important to have a legislature made up of a diverse group of representatives. Because the legislature is only in session 4 months a year and pays a salary of $30,000/year, serving in office is out of the question for a lot of people like young working professionals and people with young children. Those that find it easiest to serve are often retired, independently wealthy, have a partner to support them or have flexible jobs that allow them to work part time. But it’s critical that we are represented by people who understand the daily struggles of working and raising children and affording rent. As a single, young working professional raising a 2 year old, I feel that I am representative of my district and that I understand the struggles many residents face.
What did you do before you decided to run? Where did you go to school? Tell us a little about your resume.
I graduated from high school at Battle Mountain in Eagle County, CO. I received my Bachelor of Arts from Cornell University and my Master of Public Affairs from Princeton University. I have served as the Vice President for Policy & Government Affairs at Sunnova, a solar energy company, for the past two and a half years. Prior to that, I worked for a solar company called SolarCity for almost five years. I have worked on environment and energy issues for my entire career.
I’ve been politically active for most of my life, working with a number of candidates and elected officials including Olympia Snowe of Maine. Working with Sen. Snowe, who is widely respected as a measured and moderate Republican, I was inspired by her strong leadership and ability to craft bipartisan solutions to problems.
Before I declared my candidacy, I served as the Captain of HD5 Democrats and on the board of the Colorado Young Democrats. I am also the co-founder of a group called Women in Solar Energy, dedicated to supporting and advancing the careers of women in the solar industry.
What are your top 3 key initiatives/policies?
I have a lot of ideas for how we can continue to move Colorado forward, but I would say that much of my platform involves identifying ways that we can help to be more proactive about the rapid growth Colorado is experiencing and finding smarter ways to make it work for everyone. Access to affordable housing, healthcare, and investing in renewable energy are three important pieces of this.
Tell us about a day in the life of your campaign or tell us your favorite story from the campaign trail.
Life is definitely busy when you have a full-time campaign, a full-time job and a full-time child. I work during the day and then try to knock doors in the evening until it gets dark. Then I go to one or two campaign or community events each night. If people want to meet, I usually try to meet them early in the morning, for lunch or after 8 pm when the events are over. So it’s an extremely full schedule every day. On the weekends, I catch up on emails, spend some fun time with Etta and knock doors.
Etta is a great campaign partner. She has learned how to shake hands and understands me when I tell her that we have a campaign event to attend at night. She had a great Halloween and doesn’t understand why, when we knock on doors to talk to voters, they don’t give her candy.
What is the biggest challenge you face as a candidate? Are there challenges you face that are unique to you as a woman candidate?
I’m the only woman running against at least four men in my race so far. I’m also the only one in my race who is maintaining a full time job while also parenting a toddler and hitting the campaign trail. I have to work three times as hard as my opponents and often have to make difficult sacrifices like missing dinner or bedtimes to attend community events. Or sacrificing fundraising time to make lunch for Etta. None of my opponents have to make those same tradeoffs or sacrifices, and I understand why other women who work full-time and have children may be hesitant to run for office and miss time at work or with their children to hit the campaign trail.
What can women do to help you?
I think it’s extremely important that as women we lift each other up. We need to extend an arm down as we are moving our way up. If women reading want to help me out in my race, you can help by getting the word out about my campaign, signing up to volunteer, and of course, donating.
And if you’re a progressive in my district, participate in caucus on March 6th!
In turn, I’d be more than happy to speak with any woman who wants to learn more about what it’s like to run for office and where to begin if it’s something you’re interested in doing.
Share a fun fact or two with us!
I have studied six foreign languages: French, German, Spanish, Nepali, Russian and Arabic. I can also write in all of them (including the three non-Latin alphabets).
I worked as an au pair in France one summer when I was in college and I studied abroad in Nepal. I was in Nepal for 9/11.
Any additional thoughts?
As women, we often tend to underestimate our qualifications or abilities to do things that men don’t think twice about. When it comes to political candidacy, it’s been demonstrated that women have to be asked to run for office several times before taking the plunge. That is not the case for men.
Whether you’re thinking of running for office, taking a new direction in your career, or simply facing down a challenge in your life, I think it’s really important to keep that in mind. We can be our own worst critics, and sometimes it’s a matter of having the courage to put yourself out there. You’re more powerful than you think.