Country music and neon Bud Light signs lit up the otherwise dimly lit room Saturday where GOP gubernatorial candidate Heidi Ganahl held a “meet and greet,” in Grand Junction at Warehouse25sixty-five Kitchen+Bar.

Approximately 30 people came out to meet the University of Colorado regent who was introduced by Chelsie Miera, executive director of the West Slope Oil and Gas Commission.

“I’m a huge fan of Heidi,” Miera said. “We have a huge opportunity to elect someone that represents our rural and state values.”

Ganahl quickly ran down a list of what those values include.

“My first priority is to be a voice for rural Colorado,” Ganahl said. “We are the heart and soul of the state. I’m a mom with a mission. I want my kids to stay in Colorado. Running for office is a labor of love to protect the Colorado way of life” – which apparently includes ramping up oil and gas development.

“Let’s produce oil and gas again,” she said. “We need energy independence. We have some of the strictest regulations here in Colorado.

“It’s killing kids in Ukraine. We need to start producing oil in Colorado.”

When asked if she’d be in favor of stopping crude oil imports from Russia – even if it raises gas prices in this country, Ganahl replied she would, and “that’s the risk we have to take.”

Ganahl said she wants to “fix education” and that we should fund students, not the system.

“It’s time to tell teachers’ unions to knock it off and get out of our lives,” she said. “As a regent at the University of Colorado, I see the bloat that goes on in administration.”

“People are fired up” about the “nonsense being taught in schools,” she added without explaining what she meant by “nonsense.”

“The government should not be involved in raising your kids, or running your business,” Ganahl said. “It’s time to put our foot down.”

She also said kids are “unhappy” and “isolated” and are lacking “passion” and “goals,” and that work needs to be done to address problems like drug addiction and mental health issues.

Additionally, “Crime is skyrocketing across the state – and homelessness,” she said. “That wasn’t happening when I grew up. My dad was a policeman. We’ve got to respect law and order.

“First, I’d fire the parole board. Second, I’d get rid of PR (personal recognizance) bonds. Repeat offenders are skyrocketing. We need to keep bad guys in jail. We’ve got to get back to law and order,” she said.

Ganahl also said she would end Colorado’s status as a sanctuary state. In 2019 Gov. Jared Polis signed into law a bill that included various protections for undocumented immigrants.

“I will, on day one, roll back every executive order Polis has signed,” Ganahl said. Polis’ orders cover a wide range of subjects, beyond health orders related to the pandemic.

She complained about Polis spending nearly $25 million of his own money to win his seat as governor, but said if she can raise just $4 to $5 million it will be enough to “get our movement out.” According to Colorado’s Axios affiliate, Polis spent $23.4 million of his own money to win in 2018.

“Restaurant owners, the energy industry, and parents will get us across the finish line,” Ganahl said.

She’ll first have to win the Republican primary, however, where she faces a crowded field of more than a dozen Republican challengers, including former Parker Mayor Greg Lopez, Jason Lopez (no relation to Greg), and Peyton really estate broker Danielle Neuschwanger – three candidates who participated in a January gubernatorial debate in Grand Junction – where Neuschwanger won that evening’s straw poll.

Ganahl mingled and talked with attendees both before and after her roughly half-hour presentation. She also took a few questions from the audience.

One person asked if she’d have to give up her regent seat at the university if elected, to which Ganahl responded, “The term is up when I’ll be inaugurated as Governor.”

Another attendee asked Ganahl if she agreed with former President Trump’s claim that Biden started the war in Ukraine – not Putin. Ganahl responded vaguely, but didn’t answer the question. Trump has blamed Biden for not doing enough to prevent the Russian invasion.

She also touched upon gun rights briefly.

“I’m a firm believer in the Second Amendment,” GanahI said. “I learned how to shoot as a young child. We see how important it is around the world now.”