On this week's episode of Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel
: Victoria Steele and Matt Heinz, the two Democrats who are facing off in the August primary to determine who will face Republican Congresswoman Martha McSally in November, talk about why they should be the ones to advance. Then Republican Steve Christy, who is running for the retiring Ray Carroll's seat on the Pima County Board of Supervisors, stops by to talk about his campaign.
You can catch the show at 8 a.m. Sunday on the CW Tucson, Channel 8 on Cox and Comcast and Channel 58 on DirecTV, Dish and broadcast. You can also listen to it at 5 p.m. Sunday on KXCI, 91.3 FM. Or watch online above.
Here's a rush transcript of the show:
(Nintzel) Hello, everyone. I'm Tucson Weekly's senior and we're here to talk Zona Politics. Today, we'll be talking with the Democrats who are fighting in the August primary for the chance to challenge Republican Congresswoman Martha McSally in the November general election We start with Victoria Steele. Ms. Steele is a former lawmaker and journalist who has also worked as a therapist and counselor. Victoria, welcome to Zona Politics.
(Steele) Thank you, Jim. My pleasure.
(Nintzel) So, what makes you the best candidate among the Democrats to take on Martha McSally?
(Steele) I think I’ve got more heart than anybody that's in this race. I have the experience of being an actual legislator. And I was in the legislature representing District 9 for the past three years, with the exception of this year, and I bring a broad range of experiences. I was a television news anchor and reporter for about 25 years. And I was also a master civil counselor. A mental health counselor. I specialized in domestic violence and substance abuse and relationships. So, once I was in the legislature, I was able to take those skills of being able to communicate well and to be able to build coalitions bring those together to get legislation passed. to get things done, to create good policy.
(Nintzel) And you have trailed your opponent, Matt Heinz, on the fundraising front. This week the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee designated Mr. Heinz as a candidate in an "emerging race" in the Red to Blue program that they have. Can you raise enough money to legitimately compete with Martha McSally, who is one of the top fundraisers in the country?
(Steele) Let me tell you about what the fundraising picture really looks like, from a broader view. My fundraising numbers are about here. Matt's are about here. Martha's are way up here. Neither one of us is close to Martha's fundraising numbers. But I also don't want you to think and I don't want anyone to think, that fundraising or the amount of money in one's bank account is the only thing that matters when it comes to choosing someone to be your representative and this campaign is a grassroots campaign and I reflect the people in my district. They know what it's like to struggle. They deserve to have somebody represent them who understands what it is like to struggle, to work through things.
(Nintzel) Gun violence is an issue that residents of Southern Arizona are all too familiar with after the shooting of Gabby Giffords and others at the Congress on Your Corner event in 201.1 We, of course, are not the only ones who have experienced mass shootings. Recently, we had the worst one in U.S. history at the Orlando nightclub. What kind of legislation do you think Congress should be looking at to address gun violence?
(Steele) I think at a minimum Congress should be looking at, and I'm really distressed that they have not really taken any movement in this direction. What they should be looking at is expanding the background checks, closing the gun show loopholes, and making sure that people who are on the "no-fly" list cannot buy a gun. I mean, bottom line, if you're too dangerous to board an airplane, you are too dangerous to go to your gun store or online and purchase a weapon. That just makes sense. And my Republican incumbent opponent has repeatedly blocked that type of rule from being anywhere close to being passed. And that's understandable, because she is funded by some gun lobbyists.
(Nintzel) And you support comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship. Why do you think undocumented people who have entered the country illegally or overstayed their visas should have a shot at citizenship in the United States?
(Steele) I think when we start talking about things like immigration, when we start talking about the economy, when we start talking about border security, we need to think in terms of our border in three ways: border security, borderland culture, and border commerce. So if you have border security, I think every country has the responsibility to secure their borders. And Border Patrol should be given all the resources they need to do that job well. But I also think we need to look at our borderland culture, because we live in an area where there is a rich mix of people and cultures. It's a great diversity. That's who we are. We should be embracing that, and we should never let fear and bigotry and calls for a giant wall and getting rid of 11 million people, we should never let that kind of stuff hurt our borderland culture and who we are. We also need to look at borderland commerce. We have about $30 billion a year in commerce coming over our border with Mexico, $30 billion a year just to Arizona. And we also have about $8 million a day, from visitors crossing the border into Arizona, who spend $8 million a day, here. If we are talking about getting rid of people, we're talking about incarcerating people, and we're talking about building a great, great wall, then what we're doing is assaulting our own economy. That doesn't make sense.
(Nintzel) Congresswoman McSally has talked a lot about national security concerns, that the Obama administration is not doing enough to fight ISIS. Do you think she's right about that?
(Steele) No I do not think she's right about that. I think she is she approaches things from her military experience, which, you know, I give her credit for. She did time in the military. I think that is wonderful. That's an enormous public service, and I think that's wonderful. At the same time when it comes to issues around terrorism, we live in an era that's not the Cold War anymore. We can't do things quite the same way that we used to, so when I hear people in the Republican Party talk about making sand glow, or you know, lighting up the desert with gunfire, we have a different war to fight. this is different. We have non-state bad actors who resilient, they are creative and they find new ways to go after weak targets. So we have to be more creative. We have to be more strategic in how we go after them. We must not stop, but we can't do things in the same old way. And so, no. I think that our approach to dealing with terrorism, ISIS in particular, and ISIS is going to morph into something else. It's what happens. They do, they morph. And they change, and, you know, they go online. I think in order to do this, we have to have strong diplomatic approach. We have to have procedures. We have to have policies that are in line with our values of individual freedom and justice and protecting people's rights and I think protecting people's civil rights is really important in this process.
(Nintzel) We've got about a half-minute left. I do want to ask you what you make of Congresswoman McSally's statement that she'll take some time to determine Donald Trump's character before she can say whether she'll endorse him or not.
(Steele) You know, he has insulted Mexican-Americans. He calls them rapists and murderers. He has insulted people with disabilities. He has horribly insulted women consistently—all through his career, he has insulted women. He's insulted Latinos. He's insulted so many people. And she wants a closer look? Just between us girls, Martha, you don't get much closer to him.
(Nintzel) Alright, we're going to have to leave it there. I thank you, Victoria Steele, running for Congress in the Second District here in Southern Arizona. We will be right back with her opponent Matt Heinz.
My next guest is Matt Heinz, a former state lawmaker who's facing our previous guest in the August primary that will decide which one of these Democrats will challenge Republican Congresswoman Martha McSally in November. Mr. Heinz works as an emergency room physician. He has also served in the Arizona Legislature. Matt, welcome to Zona Politics.
(Heinz) Good to be here, Jim.
(Nintzel) What makes you the best candidate to take on Martha McSally?
(Heinz) Well, I think that the Democrats need to nominate the strongest possible candidate to articulate the message that, you know, we are more consistent with the values of Southern Arizona voters and their beliefs, and I believe I'm the candidate to do that based on my background as a physician, my experience as a legislator, with my ability to get bi-partisan measures through, and signed by Gov. Brewer, even. And also, my experience in the federal government so I know actually a little bit about agencies, how things work and also how they don't.
(Nintzel) And money is a big issue in these races. You're going up against one of the top fundraisers in the nation. Can you be competitive there?
(Heinz) Absolutely, and, you know having no resources, of course, would be a problem, but I'm really, really proud of the campaign we've pulled together, and the message we're getting out already to the voters, and I'm looking forward to really going toe to toe and on the airwaves very soon, here. So, yes we're going to be able to compete very well here in Southern Arizona.
(Nintzel) Gun violence, of course, a big issue in this district after what happened at Gabby Giffords' Congress on your Corner, but elsewhere in the country mass shootings are becoming an all-too-often occurrence. Your thoughts on what kind of legislation Congress should be pursuing to address gun violence.
(Heinz) The guns that we have, it is unconscionable that we have allowed it to get to this point. The inaction of Congress and people like Martha McSally, frankly, who has voted 12 times to allow people with confirmed terror connections of some kind, on the terror watch list, to acquire weapons at a local Walmart without any sort of check. No Fly/No Buy, I would endorse that, obviously, but you can't really enforce that unless you have the gun show loophole closed. So you can't have 45 percent of weapons changing hands without any sort of background checks like they do now So those are two measures that absolutely must pass, and there are certainly many others we could look at.
(Nintzel) And you support comprehensive immigration reform.
(Heniz) I do.
(Nintzel) With a path to citizenship.
(Nintzel) And why do you think that the undocumented people who have entered the country illegally or overstayed a visa should have a shot at citizenship?
(Heinz) See, the vast majority of these folks who did not storm the border and come in by force, as I think a lot of people try to say on the other side, they overstayed a tourist visa. And that was it. They certainly broke the law. But, by and large, these are families trying to make a better life for themselves just like my grandparents, who came from Northern Lebanon, and like my great-great grandparents, who came from Germany-Prussia, like all of us come from immigrants, and so those who are living peacefully and working and abiding by the laws of the land at this point, I do believe deserve a right to move forward, pay a fine, make sure they know the language take some tests, pay back taxes, all of those things to eventually acquire citizenship.
(Nintzel) Do you think we need more security on the border?
(Heinz) I think that we have actually a pretty secure situation in a lot of the border, but we must maintain that, and we need to make sure we don't just focus on putting agents on the border. We need to augment Border Patrol agents with more intelligent technologies. And that would be, of course, satellite infrared technologies, which they're implementing to some degree. Drones, possibly, so I want to avoid just looking at basically having a human presence on the border. There's a lot we can do to augment them. And the border is not just something that must secured. Of course it must be. We need to look at border commerce, and we absolutely have to get more, not just green shirts, but we really need more blue shirts, and that is customs agents. It doesn't help that we expanded, for example, the Nogales port of entry, but we don't staff it. It's only one-third staffed some of the time. So to allow our largest trading partner, which is Sonora, Mexico, to continue to help us have jobs in Southern Arizona, we need to really open up the free flow of safe, secure commerce and goods between Sonora and the United States, so that's what I want to focus on, also.
(Nintzel) Congresswoman McSally has been very critical of the Obama administration in the fight against ISIS. She says the Obama administration isn't doing enough to combat these radicals in the Middle East. Your thoughts on her criticisms.
(Heinz) Yeah, I think that she's kind of towing the party line. As she does in pretty much every way. She has a 93 percent to 94 percent voting record with the Republicans on most extreme issues, so it doesn't surprise me at all to hear that she's critical of the administration. The facts are that the effort against ISIS is actually going fairly well. The United States is very good at acquiring and then acting on strategic intelligence, and also force and power projection into any region pretty much in the world. We are not good at urban warfare, counterinsurgency and nation-building, which is why we need to continue to work on completely pulling ourselves out of Afghanistan and any other theaters like that. So, no. Her criticism doesn't really surprise me at all, but actually we are doing pretty well, frankly at assisting those folks on the ground there, without a massive amount of United States men and women, our troops on the ground.
(Nintzel) You mentioned pulling troops out of Afghanistan. She's also been critical of the Obama administration plans to reduce troops in Afghanistan. The administration actually announced recently that they're going to slow their roll on that particular front. And your thoughts on where we should be with troop levels in Afghanistan.
(Heinz) Look, I look at all of, pretty much everything I look through the lens as a physician. All public health and safety. And if I'm asking you, your kids, brothers, sisters or maybe your parents to sacrifice themselves for something, I have to be able to defend that to your family if you don't come back. If I'm your representative, I can't defend that. I cannot defend putting more people in Afghanistan where we are unwanted, and where we are not, frankly, that adept at those counter-insurgency and nation-building activities. We've seen this again and again, in Iraq, in Afghanistan and before that in many other places, and I cannot defend to the families of our troops that this is a mission that is truly critical to us. Now, if there's an identifiable terror cell, if there's something that we need to be acting upon, absolutely. We project ourselves there. We target. We move in after we get the intelligence and we take them out, and then we leave promptly. That's what we need to do.
(Nintzel) A minute and a half left, but I wanted to ask you what you think of Congresswoman McSally's comments that she needs to take a closer look at Donald Trump to better gauge his character before she will say whether she would endorse or not endorse him for the party's candidate.
(Heinz) Complete abdication of her leadership. That's not leadership. I mean the man has said some of the most godawful things, insulting things for 27 percent of the district. Latinos, right. The first thing that Donald Trump said out of his mouth was, "These are criminals, some rapists" and then, nothing. Radio silence So, at that moment I knew that Martha McSally was absolutely wrong to represent the 2nd Congressional District. Can you imagine Gabby Giffords or Ron Barber allowing someone like Donald Trump to malign a fourth of their constituents and just pretending it didn't happen? She's wrong for the job.
(Nintzel) About, again, about half a minute left now, but Congresswoman McSally has voted to strip funding from Planned Parenthood for healthcare services other than abortion. Your thoughts.
(Heinz) Planned Parenthood is an amazing, amazing network of clinics where many of my patients, men and women, frankly, go for wellness. Men can have treatments for infections there and get vasectomies, but, look, if you want to reduce the rate of abortion, you should support Planned Parenthood, not take it down. So, yeah, six votes to take away Planned Parenthood funding and even, you know, voting to hold up funding for all sorts of other things like Zika virus response, right? I mean, it's ridiculous, and, again it really doesn't show leadership to me, or understanding of the district where Planned Parenthood is actually quite popular among her constituents.
(Nintzel) Alright, we're going to have to leave it there but Dr. Matt Heinz, thank you so much for coming in, talking about your campaign for Congress in Congressional District 2, and we will be right back with Republican Steve Christy, who's running for the Pima County Board of Supervisors.
(Nintzel) Joining me now is Republican Steve Christy who is running for the open Board of Supervisors seat now held by the retiring Ray Carroll. Mr. Christy is the former owner of Steve Christy's Chrysler Jeep, the auto dealership he ran since the mid-1980s. He has also served on the steering committee for the regional transportation authority as well as the State Transportation Board. This is his first run for public office. Steve, welcome to Zona Politics.
(Christy) Well, thank you for having me, Jim. I'm a native of Pima County. For 40 years I owned and operated my own business. I paid my taxes. I met payroll and I contributed to my community. For five years I served on the Arizona State Transportation Board and chaired it. For five years I served on the Regional Transportation Authority and chaired it. And I believe that with my 40 years of business ownership and operation of a business here in Pima County plus my five years of serving on public policy boards, boards that actually have deep impact and address the number one most serious and challenging issues that this county faces, roads and infrastructure, that I am the best-qualified and best-prepared candidate running for District 4 for the Pima County Board of Supervisors.
(Nintzel) What do you think the best way is to start fixing our roads here in Pima County?
(Christy) The same way that the RTA was formed, was a collaboration of all the jurisdictions of all the stakeholders in the community bringing them all together. Everybody having a piece of the pie, everybody having a say in the process. This is a very complicated and difficult issue. There's legalities involved. There's charters involved. The Regional Transportation Authority, of course, is sanctioned by the legislature. That comes into play as well, but the first and most important thing is to identify how as a region, and I believe this is a regional problem and a regional issue, and should be solved on a regional basis. We have to identify how we as a region can come together and make these really difficult decisions and it's not just a matter of taking money from here and putting it over there or vice versa. It's a matter of a long-term funding source and priority that we must all agree upon in order for any kind of road improvements to be successful.
(Nintzel) There is some talk of taking some of the Regional Transportation Authority dollars that are now designed for road widening or what have you and using that for street repair, either going back going back to the voters early or after the current one expires. What are your thoughts on that?
(Christy) Well, that's a double-edged sword. On the one side it's very attractive to do that, because we desperately need to fix our roads and we need desperately to fix them as soon as possible. On the other hand, the mission of the Regional Transportation Authority never included maintenance, for road repairs. It was simply expansion and improvement. And if we slow down expansion and improvement of our RTA plan, those folks that might be considering moving here or relocating their companies here, they might see this as an indication that, "Gee, they've got so many infrastructure problems they're going to abandon their mission to improve their road situation and the improvement of their intersections and their turnouts and things of this nature, then maybe they're not poised or in a position where they really can afford to have what we need as far as infrastructure,” so, that's one of those issues where it has to be taken to the public. It has to be vetted by the public, and by all the communities: the developers, the contractors, the environmentalists, all those individuals who have a real share in our region. We have to make that determination together. And that's where I feel I have the most talent and capabilities, because I had to do the same thing when I chaired the State Transportation Board. We had wide disparity of members on that board from all around the state, who had their own agendas, who had their own philosophies, who had their own beliefs about how roads and road projects should be implemented and completed in the state of Arizona. I was fortunate enough to be able to bring that group of disparate individuals together to save roads and construction projects in Pima County that really they wanted to take away. They wanted to take money out of Southern Arizona, out of Pima County and put it into other areas in the state in Road Construction. I fought for Pima County and I saved a number of those projects and we're seeing the fruition of them today.
(Nintzel) What do you think about the complaints that the state has reduced the HURF funding, that they're not giving Pima County their fair share.
(Christy) Well, certainly that is an element of the whole mix, and we have to analyze that, and if we're not getting our fair share, and there are issues there that are giving us less money than we should be getting, then of course we'll have to address those, but, that HURF money is a drop in the bucket compared to what we need. We're looking at somewhere around a billion dollars, I've been told. That will actually bring the roads in Pima County not up to excellent conditions, but merely acceptable. So, when you're talking about HURF funds which have been declining over the years, and now they're starting to make a little bit of a comeback, we cannot rely on HURF funds. There's going to have to be more discussion, more deliberation and more contemplation of how we're going to structure our funding source to address our road system.
(Nintzel) How do you think the county's doing on the economic development front?
(Christy) Well, I'm glad to see that in the last year or two that the county has all of a sudden discovered the importance of economic development. They're scrambling really diligently to give that image that, "Yes we are for economic development.” And anything that has to do with economic development, I applaud. If they've found it now, and they're working on it now I applaud that. It's just a matter of how we're going to pursue economic development and in what manner.
(Nintzel) What do you think the county should be doing that it's not doing? We've got about a minute and a half left.
(Christy) The county started, for instance, the Sonoran corridor, which I'm very passionate about, because I believe that holds the key that unlocks the door to economic development. After all, you've got the confluence of I-19 and I-10. You've got Tucson International Airport. You have Raytheon You have the Port of Tucson. You have the Union Pacific Railroad. You have the UA Business Tech Park, all right there clustered. And I give the county credit for at least implementing the idea and the concept of joining I-19 and I-10 together and setting up the areas of incubation. But now, I believe that it's time for the county, which started the process, to step aside and allow private capital, private enterprise to come in. And that's where I feel I will have the most effect because of my business background to attract new companies to this area that is already set up there. It makes perfect, logical sense as an incubation center, as a nexus for economic development. And it really percolates over to my district which is really exciting to me as well.
(Nintzel) Alright, I think that's about all we have time for. Steve Christy, thank you so much for coming down here and talking about your run for the Pima County Board of Supervisors.
(Christy) Thank you for having me, Jim.
(Nintzel) Alright, that's our show for today. We'll be right back with some closing thoughts.
(Nintzel) That's our show for today. Next week we'll introduce you to three Democrats running for the Arizona House of Representatives in Legislative District 9. My thanks to our media partners at Tucson Weekly, Tucson Local Media, and KXCI 91.3 FM, where you can hear the show at 5 p.m. on Sunday afternoon. If you missed any part of today's show, you'll find all our episodes at zonapolitics.com, and be sure to follow us on Facebook. I'm Jim Nintzel. Thanks for watching. We'll see you next time.