Republican Jonathon Paton, Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick, and Libertarian Kim Allen, each running for U.S. Congress, District 1, met on Monday night at the Legacy Traditional School in Marana to debate federal, state, and local issues.
Moderator Don Winfield fielded questions from a “spirited” audience, and each candidate was given an allotted time to respond.
In his introduction, Paton outlined his “checks and balances” platform, calling for more accountability from federal leadership.
“It is my belief that it is our responsibility, that we should be that check and balance,” he said. “When we look at Washington D.C., we know that Washington is broken.”
As a former member of the U.S. Army, Paton said the oath he takes as a congressman is similar to that he took as a soldier, and one that he will stand by on the public’s behalf.
Kirkpatrick’s introduction detailed her three-part plan to fix the hurting economy, to include the implementation of good-paying jobs in emerging technology, creating jobs to protect natural resources, and creating jobs that educate children.
“Arizona has a great opportunity right now to be a leader in creating good-paying jobs, and innovation is how to do that,” she said. “I have a vision for our district that is a diversified, sustainable economy, not just dependent on one or two sectors.”
Allen, the less known of the candidates, introduced himself as a former Navy air-traffic controller, and called himself “the best of two parties.”
“I am against big government, I’m against a lot of taxes, and I’m also for your civil liberties, probably the most important thing,” he said.
Asked about Iran’s nuclear program, Allen spoke first against military action.
“This is not going to work,” he said. “They have a million man Army over there, just like we do. They are well trained…so why would we want to do that? We don’t want Israel hurt, and to start something we would have to finish,” he said.
Paton voiced his support for military force if necessary, and told of a conversation he had with an Iraqi detainee, who told Paton of his willingness to kill as many Americans as possible.
“That is the mentality we are facing in Iran right there,” said Paton. “We have to take this seriously as a country. We need to do whatever it takes to protect the balance of this country and world, and we have to protect ourselves from any attack.”
Kirkpatrick also said force should be used if no other option was available.
“A nuclear Iran is a very dangerous thing for the world,” she said. “I support diplomacy first, I support the sanctions, but I’m not afraid to call for force if that’s what is necessary.”
On the topic of economic growth in the private sector, Kirkpatrick reemphasized her three-part plan, saying emerging technologies like solar, wind, and bioscience will create jobs.
Allen said he does not believe as a government entity he could create jobs, unless the people “want the government to create jobs.”
Paton piggybacked off Allen’s point, arguing it is not the government that creates jobs, but the private sector, and called for people to be allowed to “control their own destiny.”
Asked about the Affordable Health Care Act, Allen said he would have voted against it in 2008, although he doesn’t think repealing it is the answer either, as it has a number of benefits.
Paton strongly opposed the bill, saying it was the bill most responsible for “tearing apart the economy” at the state and national level.
Kirkpatrick said the bill “is not perfect, but said she supports it because it offers options, such as allowing children with preexisting conditions to join their parents health insurance.
As the debate moved on, the candidates responded to their stance on the Norquist Tax Pledge.
Paton said he has signed the pledge for his district to not raise taxes.
“If we raise taxes, especially in a recession, not only are you giving the government more power, but you’re also going to be diminishing the ability for the economy to grow,” he said.
Paton added that individuals who voted for ObamaCare voted for one of the largest tax increases in history.
Kirkpatrick said “the only thing she pledges allegiance to is the flag,” and that she supports tax cuts for the middle class.
“This district is middle class, and I won’t vote for anything that would increase the burden on middle class families who are still trying to find jobs, but have yet to hear any type of jobs program from my opponent.”
Kirkpatrick said she differs from President Barack Obama in that tax cuts should extend to people who make $500,000 or less as opposed to $250,000 or less, but said “millionaires and billionaires” should pay their fair share.
Allen said he would not sign a pledge unless constituents called for it.
Paton was allowed a rebuttal to Kirkpatrick’s claim that he has no jobs plan.
“I think I articulated it pretty well,” he said. “My jobs plan is to decrease taxes, stop regulating the industry in this state, and leave people alone.”
In closing, Paton and Kirkpatrick had a somewhat tense exchange, with Kirkpatrick questioning the consistency of Paton’s running platform on issues of women’s rights and health care, while also questioning his residency in the district.
Paton responded by reminding voters that Kirkpatrick walked out on constituents at her town hall in 2009, and vowed never to do the same.