by Mariana Dale
If Democratic candidate Ann Kirkpatrick wins the congressional race for CD1 in November, she’ll return to Washington, ready to sponsor a balanced-budget amendment.
Republican candidate Jonathan Paton will throw his support behind a repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
And Libertarian Kim Allen? Well, he admitted the scenario wasn’t one he had given a lot of thought to.
“If I win this election, I’m going to Vegas,” he said to a round of amused applause from the audience.
This question and others gave Kirkpatrick and Paton an opportunity to cement their support for critical issues, while Allen provided much of the comic relief for the evening.
The candidates for Congressional District 1 One met Monday night at Legacy Traditional School for a round of pre-selected and audience-generated questions. About 350 people filled the Legacy School Cafeteria.
The debate was the second in which all three candidates appeared together; the first was in Casa Grande last week. At the moment, there are no other debates scheduled on-air or in person for the remainder of the campaign season.
The sprawling district covers 11 counties including the cities of Oro Valley Marana, Flagstaff and parts of a dozen Native American tribe reservations.
Through every tax-related question Paton remained staunchly opposed to the federal government’s involvement
“The role of government is to preserve liberty, not to restrict,” said Paton in response to a question about federal use of tax codes that modify behavior.
Paton said it is the job of the people to determine what local officials represent their interests best, and elect them to office.
Kirkpatrick used the question as an opportunity to educate the audience about the median household income of her district ($33,000) and the number of Native American Tribes (12). She stressed the need for partnership with federal government to “get things done.”
The debate also brought up the pledge made popular by Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform.
“I’ve signed the pledge to my district that I will not raise taxes,” said Paton. He called the Affordable Care Act one of the largest tax increases in the nation’s history.
“The only pledge I take is the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag,” said Kirkpatrick to cheers from the audience.
“This district is middle class and I won’t vote for anything that increases the burden on middle class families who are still trying to find jobs,” she said.
Instead she proposed that millionaires and billionaires pay their “fair share.”
Kirkpatrick made mention of her “three part job plan” in her introduction and revisited the concept to explain how she would support growth of the private sector.
The three main points include creating jobs in emerging technology, like wind and solar, natural resource protection and education.
“I will put in the infrastructure we need to make jobs,” Kirkpatrick said.
Paton’s approach didn’t support a specific plan, but a hands off ideology.
“I think the idea that the government creates jobs is a misnomer,” said Paton. He called government investments in green companies like Solyndra and Fisker a failure. A similar claim made by Mitt Romney was rated false by a PolitiFact article.
”You know what people want in this country, what they really want in this community?” Paton asked, “They want the government to leave them alone.”
Allen also said that it wasn’t the role of a government entity to create jobs.
Affordable Care Act
The Affordable Care Act has been a signature issue for the Congressional District 1 Race. Kirkpatrick’s positive vote in 2010 has come back to haunt her in a barrage of political advertisements.
“This bill is the bill that is, I think, more responsible for tearing apart our economy in this state and across the country, than almost any action,” Paton said.
The audience responded with scattered boos, but in the end it was a resounding cheer of support. But that wasn’t the end of the applause; Kirkpatrick also received a loud round of hand clapping from the audience for her response.
“It’s not perfect,” she said, but then listed examples in which the bill has allowed those with pre-existing conditions to receive health care and also aspects where the bill needs improvement.
“I know what has happened with the proliferation with the rules and regulation on healthcare,” Kirkpatrick said, citing 20 years of experience as a healthcare lawyer, “We need to simplify the system and lower costs.”
She proposed the creation of a medical advisory board of physicians, hospital CEOs and community members to guide the “next steps” of the action.
Closing statements from every candidate took a sharper tone than the rest of the debate.
Kirkpatrick took the opportunity to accuse Paton of living outside of his district and having an unclear position on women’s health and Medicare.
“Folks, I just want you to know what a flip-flopper he is on the important issues facing our country and our district,” she concluded. This was the first mention made of women’s health; the debate questions largely avoided social issues.
The Arizona Republic published their endorsement of Paton and cited Kirkpatrick’s jarring attack on Paton as a major factor in the decision.
Paton responded to the accusations and explained he lives just off of Thornydale and is steadfastly pro-life. He then brought out the token Republican accusation that the Affordable Care Act cuts $716 billion from senior citizens. A mixture of hisses and cheers emitted from the audience.
Allen didn’t address his opponents directly or pander for votes of his own, but encouraged the audience not to vote a straight ticket for Democrats or Republicans.
After the debate, Allen said that participating in the debates was his way of “poking the stick” at the major parties.
He attracted a small group of supporters, some wearing stickers that stated their affiliation with the major parties. Asked about his performance in the debate he said,
“I’m not looking at a vocation or an avocation…I’m just a ticked off senior citizen that believes that the Republican and Democratic Party are just totally rotten to the core.”
Paton and Kirkpatrick mingled, posed for pictures and shook hands with various supporters. Among them were Ed Moody and his son, William, 11. They lined up to see Paton and Ed snapped a picture of his grinning son and the congressional candidate.
The elder Moody is a veteran government teacher at Foothills High School, but this was William’s first exposure to the political campaigns; He’s already looking forward to the day he gets to vote.
“I want to speak my mind and well, vote, or help out, who believes what I believe and that someone could stand up for what we believe,” said William.