Joe O’Dea talks about why he wants to be Colorado’s next U.S. senator


The Villager sat down with Greenwood Village resident and U.S. Senate candidate Joe O’Dea to find out more about him and what he hopes to accomplish if he is able to beat the rest of the field in the June 28, 2022 Republican primary and challenge incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Michael Bennet. 

We found Joe O’Dea outside his Greenwood Village home near his barn. Photo by Freda Miklin

He told us, “I grew up here in Colorado, graduated from Mullen High School, studied construction up at CSU. Watching what’s going on in our United States is disturbing to me. It made me think that it’s time to give back. I’ve been blessed. I’ve lived the American dream. My wife and I, we started out in 1983 with me changing attic fans. Today, we’ve built a company, CEI Constructors, that employs 300 families here in Colorado. We just finished up the remodel out at Chatfield Reservoir and redid the Platte River to get that area to drain better. We are currently doing a job for Jefferson County Open Space in Clear Creek Canyon.” 

The candidate continued, “We don’t have a voice in the Senate that’s talking about what’s good for Colorado and what’s going on in Colorado. That’s why I jumped into this race. I want to be the voice for working Americans, small businesses, employers, employees. I’m talking about the people who are producing, the ones who contribute. Nobody’s talking about them.”

We asked O’Dea how he would lower taxes and attack the debt, two ideas on his campaign website. He told us, “I’m a Republican conservative who wants smaller government, wants to fund those things that are part of a smart government, like police and fire.” The Villager wanted to know how the U.S. Senate impacted local first responder services. O’Dea explained, “Policies start at the top. If you want to support our police, if you want to support our military, if you want to support infrastructure, all those things start at the top. President Biden and Senator Bennet had a chance to stand up last summer and say, enough is enough. We had Black Lives Matter tearing apart all our cities. It happened here in Colorado. It happened next to my businesses. (In addition to CEI Constructors, O’Dea also owns event facilities Ironworks and Mile High Station near downtown). If I were the Senator, I would have stepped in and said, “Come on, people. Enough’s enough. Leadership has to take a role. Step in. Lean into these ideas.”

O’Dea, whose father was a Denver police officer for 30 years, is proud to be the only Republican in the Senate race to have the endorsement of the Denver Police Protective Association Executive Board and President, “Because I care. It’s deeply personal to me that people respect our cops. They do a great job. When you talk to them, the only one who wants a bad cop out of there more than them is other cops.” If elected, he would “get more federal funds to our cops, firefighters and first responders to make sure they have all the resources they need to keep us safe.” Examples of grants he pointed us to that are available through the U.S. Department of Justice to support local law enforcement are Community Policing Development Program, Law Enforcement Mental Health and Wellness Program and Cops Hiring Program.

In the Senate, O’Dea would work to address “the current chaos that Bennet and Biden implemented since the change in administration, tens of thousands of illegals streaming across the border each day. In speaking with law enforcement,” he told us, “This has a direct correlation to the rise in crime here in our nation, as well is the increase in local availability of illegal drugs crossing the border every day from the cartels. Those are just some of the ways I think strong leadership in Washington plays a direct role in our safety here in Colorado.”

As a small business owner, O’Dea has had plenty of experience dealing with what he sees as unnecessary regulation. “I would attempt to cut a lot of the red tape. Part of the beauty of being in business and being a municipal contractor in Colorado is I’ve had the privilege of dealing with almost every municipality. I’ve dealt with Greenwood Village, Denver, Colorado Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration. I’ve gotten to see the back side of the red tape, all the regulation put in place in just the construction industry, that is required to get a project over the finish line and approved so we can actually do the work. There was a NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) study out at Chatfield that took 23 years. The average time to get one of those studies to expand a lane or do anything here in Colorado is seven years.” We wanted to know why. The candidate said, “Because there are too many places where people can stop a project without good reasoning. We need to streamline that. That’s how you start to cut spending. It costs a lot more to drag that study out than if you could be concise about it.”

“People are looking for someone who can go to Washington and be a disruptor when it comes to all of these red tape things that go on in every industry. We’ve got banking, we’ve got our medical facilities, we’ve got it everywhere we go. You cut spending by taking some of the time out of there. If we could have saved five years out of that NEPA project, we probably could have saved $5 million.” 

O’Dea explained, “Even getting a building permit here in Colorado now takes a year and a half in most places. It took me a year to get permitted here. I’m running to streamline some of that, not at a local level, but at a Washington level. If you could have boxes to check instead of reports to write, you can streamline things. I think there are a lot of taxes that are wasted on regulations we don’t need.”  He talked about new federal highway rules that require emergency lanes to be 12 feet wide where they used to only have to be eight feet wide, saying “Think of the cost that adds globally for land and cement. We always got by all right with eight-foot-wide emergency lanes.”

If elected, O’Dea says he wouldn’t necessarily always vote with the Republican caucus. His philosophy is, “Let’s do what’s right for Colorado. How can it be right for Colorado to vote for one party 100% of the time? Somebody has to stand up for the people of Colorado.” 

O’Dea was the only Republican candidate who came out and publicly supported the infrastructure bill signed by President Biden on November 15. He was open about his reasons, telling The Villager, “It’s largely infrastructure. If we don’t think we’re going to need electric charging stations here in Colorado in the future, we’re lost. That broadband piece, it changes rural Colorado, especially now, when instead of everyone piling into the city, we can stay at one of Colorado’s beautiful locations and work.” He added, “We are driving on the same roads here in Colorado that we were driving on 30 years ago.” He expects the infrastructure bill to help improve our roads.

O’Dea would like to see a return to civility in our political discourse. He said, “In order to have good policy we have to have good communication. That means sitting down with people who don’t necessarily have the same ideas as you and listening to them respectfully. When we did that, we got a lot more accomplished.”

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