Candidate Q&A - Ann Kirkpatrick candidate for Congressional District 1 - The Explorer: Elections

Candidate Q&A - Ann Kirkpatrick candidate for Congressional District 1

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Ann Kirkpatrick

Posted: Wednesday, July 18, 2012 2:06 pm | Updated: 2:47 pm, Wed Sep 19, 2012.

Name: Ann Kirkpatrick

Age: 62

Occupation: Attorney/self employed

Where do you live? Flagstaff, AZ

How long have you lived in the area? 30 years

Short description about yourself (200 words)

I’m Arizona born and raised, and I’ve lived and served in nearly every corner of Congressional District 1 throughout my life. I grew up in Eastern Arizona on the White Mountain Apache Nation. My father ran the general store there and my mother taught school. Because of their example, I have Arizona values running through my veins.

I attended college in Southern Arizona, working my way through the University of Arizona to earn a bachelor's degree and then a law degree. I later moved to Northern Arizona to become Coconino County's first female Deputy County Attorney, cracking down on criminals and protecting neighborhoods and families in Northern Arizona. I also served as Sedona’s City Attorney. 





In 2004, my neighbors elected me to the Arizona House of Representatives to represent Legislative District 2, which includes Flagstaff and the Havasupai, Hopi, Hualapai, Navajo, and San Juan Southern Paiute Nations. At the state Capitol, my priorities were fiscal responsibility and quality education.





During my 2008-10 term in the U.S. House of Representatives, I focused on getting results for my district -- more of my bills and amendments were signed into law than almost any other freshman representative. These efforts created jobs, helped small businesses, hired more border patrol agents, and protected veterans and seniors across CD1.

I raised my family in this district, and I ran a small business for several years. I understand the value of hard work and fiscal responsibility. I’m committed to cutting wasteful spending and investing in education and emerging technology. And I strongly oppose any effort to dismantle Medicare and turn it into a voucher system.

I know that partisan politics aren’t what matters to people. What really matters are good jobs, strong schools and a fair shot for families to get ahead. I’ll work to bridge the partisan divide and deliver results for Arizona.

Why are you running in Congressional District 1?

I have a vision for this district based on a lifetime of service here. I’ve seen firsthand its challenges and its opportunities. I’ve worked hard to strengthen and protect these communities, first as a prosecutor and later as a lawmaker. This district has always needed more and better jobs and a more stable economic foundation. In Southern Arizona, emerging industries like biotech and solar are taking shape, but we need leadership at the federal level to ensure this momentum continues and the region reaches its potential. In Northern Arizona, many of our environmental treasures are also our economic drivers. This is why I will continue to fight against uranium mining at the Canyon, which brings 12,000 jobs and $700 million into our economy.

My district also has dozens of smaller communities across Eastern Arizona, many with ranching or mining as their local economies, and those folks need a strong representative who will hear their concerns and work toward solutions to help ensure that rural Arizona can maintain its way of life.

CD1 is also unlike any other district in Arizona because it has 12 Native American tribes -- this district requires a representative deeply committed to its tribal communities. I grew up in a tribal community -- the White Mountain Apache Nation -- and I understand the struggle in these regions for basic resources that urban areas may take for granted: critical infrastructure like electricity, running water and good roads, or quality-of-life resources like hospitals or schools.

I am running to represent Congressional District 1 because the folks in every corner of CD1 are my neighbors, and I share their concerns and hopes for our communities.

Have you held any other office?

Arizona House of Representatives, 2005-07

U.S. Congress, 2009-10

Given the size of CD1, are you confident you can meet the needs of constituents in Southern Arizona while still serving the district as a whole?

Yes. I’m the only CD1 candidate who has proven experience with the incredibly diverse issues and logistics facing a district this size. I’ve lived in Southern Arizona for many years, working my way through college at U of A for my undergraduate and law degrees there. One of my earliest legal jobs was with the Pima County Attorney’s Office. And I was living in Pima County when my daughter was born. So, right after the 2012 redistricting maps were completed, I began a sustained effort to spend even more time with the people of Southern Arizona and delve even further into the unique issues in this region. Southern Arizona has commonalities with regions of CD1 that are further north or east, such as opportunities for emerging industries in biotech or the need for more infrastructure and small-business support (for example, along the transportation corridor of the I-10). My campaign opened an Oro Valley headquarters earlier this year and we are working hard every day to talk with Southern Arizona voters and listen to their ideas and concerns. If elected, I will ensure that constituents in the southern region of CD1 have full access to and a full voice in their representation.

What are your three top priorities? If elected, how will you address those priorities?

My main priority is standing up for the middle class. This means 1) Creating good jobs in our district and across Arizona, especially in emerging technologies like biotech, wind and solar. I have a record of working across the aisle on job-creation efforts, including the Copper Basin Jobs Project, the Four Forests Restoration Initiative, or the closing of the black liquor tax loopholes; 2) Protecting Medicare and Social Security from drastic cuts by balancing the budget in a fiscally responsible way and asking millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share. I will oppose any efforts to turn Medicare into a voucher system or privatize these important protections; and 3) Investing in education so our schools have modern classrooms, smaller class sizes and the most qualified teachers in the world.

If you are running in the Primary Election, what makes you the best candidate to move on to win the General Election?

I am the only candidate with the experience, the organization and the operation to deliver results for Congressional District 1. I have a vision for this district based on a lifetime of service here. I’ve seen firsthand its challenges and its opportunities. I’ve served these communities as a prosecutor and as a lawmaker. I’ve raised a family here and ran a business. I am committed to helping CD1 develop a more stable economic foundation. I will work at the federal level to ensure that emerging industries in Southern Arizona like biotech continue their momentum and the region reaches its potential. In Northern Arizona, I will continue my fight to protect environmental treasures like the Grand Canyon that are also our economic drivers. In the small communities across Eastern Arizona where I grew up, many with ranching or mining as their local economies, I will stand up for them and work on solutions that help rural Arizona maintain its way of life. And with 12 Native American tribes, CD1 needs a representative deeply committed to its tribal communities. I grew up in the White Mountain Apache Nation, and I understand the struggles in these regions. I have worked hard to deliver results for our district’s tribal communities – results like the permanent reauthorization of Indian Health Service funding. But the work must continue. I am running to represent Congressional District 1 because the folks in every corner of CD1 are my neighbors, and I share their hopes for our communities.

How do you feel about the Supreme Court’s ruling to uphold the Affordable Healthcare Act? Would you vote to repeal the legislation?

This law isn’t perfect, but it helps the hard-working families in my district in lots of ways. It protects kids with preexisting conditions, it helps seniors who can’t afford their prescriptions, and it gives tax cuts to small-business owners who want to provide coverage for employees. And it's especially critical for the 12 tribal communities across our district that urgently needed the permanent reauthorization of Indian Health Service funding. Rather than hurt families in my district by repealing it, let’s work toward improving it. We should continue to work on ways to contain outrageous costs and make sure people have access to affordable health care.

Did you agree with the Supreme Court for upholding a key portion of SB1070, but rejecting the rest? Do you agree that SB 1070 is a step in the right direction to handle illegal immigration as Gov. Brewer has stated?

The recent Supreme Court ruling was a reminder that SB1070 hasn't solved anything. What we need is a federal immigration strategy that secures our borders while offering fair and sensible reforms. SB1070 did not get us any closer to either of those important goals. In Congress, I tried to focus on real solutions by cracking down on the criminal cartels and smugglers that are harming our communities. In addition to securing $600 million of border security funding, I succeeded in getting Navajo County included in a highly successful anti-drug trafficking program—and I proposed legislation that would include all Arizona counties in the same program.

How do you feel about President Barack Obama’s announcement that this administration will not deport young people?

I support fair and sensible steps like this one, so that we are not punishing young people who were brought into this country as children and are now working hard, playing by the rules and building a stronger future. It's the right thing to do -- and it's why the DREAM Act has been endorsed by fair-minded people across our nation -- from top Pentagon officials to editorial boards to Republicans and Democrats alike.

What are some specific changes needed in Washington?

Leaders in Washington need a big dose of Arizona common sense. We need problem solvers in Congress, not partisan games. Too much of today’s political environment has been poisoned or even paralyzed by hyper-partisanship. The concerns of everyday Arizonans are my top priority, even if it means bucking party leaders. My district has incredibly diverse communities, and their regional issues and interests sometimes clash. CD1 requires a representative with common sense – and capable of finding common ground – in order to get results for our communities.

Washington also needs to reign in unnecessary spending. In Congress, I was a relentless advocate for fiscal responsibility. With the federal debt at historic levels and the budget deficit over $1.5 trillion, I repeatedly stood up to the administration and House leadership and fought to cut spending and crack down on waste. I believe that Congress should follow the lead of folks in rural Arizona, who know how to do more with less.

Elected leaders should lead by example, which is why I introduced the Taking Responsibility for Congressional Pay Act, which would cut pay for members of Congress for the first time since the Great Depression. I voluntarily returned five percent of my salary each month pay down the national debt, and I also returned over $100,000 in unused office funds at the end of my term.

What are your thoughts on the Fast and Furious controversy? Do you agree with the House of Representatives voting to hold Attorney General Holder in contempt? How do you feel about President Obama claiming executive privilege in the matter?

First of all, the death of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was a tragedy and should never have happened. We have much more work to do in the efforts to secure our nation’s borders. And that’s why I believe Congress should be spending its time on real solutions rather than election-year politicizing of Fast and Furious. As a former prosecutor and lawmaker, I have worked for years with local law enforcement to ensure they have real tools to do their jobs and protect our communities. During my time in Congress, I worked to put more boots on the ground, get law enforcement resources to combat drug trafficking, and make sure that Washington hears how serious Arizonans are about this problem. And as Arizona’s only representative on the Homeland Security Committee during the 111th Congress, I worked to ensure our border region was better equipped to crack down on criminal cartels and smugglers. For example, I introduced the Anti-Cash Smuggling Act to provide law enforcement with new tools to stop cartel money laundering. I introduced the Southwest Border Narcotics Reduction Act to include the entire state of Arizona in a successful anti-drug trafficking program - offering local, state and tribal law enforcement new access to resources and information in the fight against smugglers. And I introduced the Border Violence Prevention Act to bring more security personnel to the Southwest and give them the improved weapons, better body armor and 21st-century technology they need.

These are the types of real solutions that should be our immediate priority rather than partisan blame games that feed the 24/7 cable news cycle.

Contraception has been a big issue in Arizona, and a source of debate at the national level. Should employers be able to deny healthcare coverage for contraception based on religious beliefs?

Women have the right to make their own health-care decisions, and our government should never limit women’s access to reproductive health services.

The disapproval rating in Congress has been low over the last few years. Will you be able to reach across party lines to do what’s best for the country? Do you have any proof that you have this ability based on past service?

My record of reaching across the aisle and finding common ground is well documented. In fact, I was named to Congressional Quarterly’s Top 10 list of the “most rebellious members of Congress” in 2010 for my willingness to buck the party line when I believed it was right for my district. I fight for the people of my district, not for a party or an ideology.

In Congress, I was not afraid to break from my party on high-profile votes like the bailouts or cap and trade. I opposed every bailout effort in Congress because I don’t believe bailouts are a fiscally responsible approach. I voted against the cap-and-trade bill because it would devastate the economies of the small towns across my district.

And I reached across party lines not only in House votes but in the day-to-day efforts of representing our state. For example, I signed onto a bipartisan letter to the EPA, along with Reps. Gabrielle Giffords, Jeff Flake and Trent Franks, voicing our concerns over possible new restrictions on the Navajo Generating Station. The NGS and the Kayenta Coal Mine, which is located on Navajo and Hopi tribal land and is the sole source of fuel for the NGS, are crucial sources of revenue, wages and employment for both tribes. The Navajo Nation and Hopi Tribe have long endured economic and living conditions considerably worse than those of non-tribal citizens. I could not support legislation that would harm my district and that lacked any plans for transitioning these communities toward a clean-energy economy.

In contrast, I’ve also stood up to Republicans who are pushing for uranium mining at the Grand Canyon. The Canyon is not only an environmental treasure but an economic driver in our district, and I will continue my efforts to protect it.

The people of CD1 come before any party or ideology. I will continue to serve in this manner if the voters send me back to Congress.

What must be done to improve the economy, and decrease jobless claims both in Arizona and at the national level?

In Congress, I made creating jobs for Arizona through federal action—not federal spending—a top priority. For instance, I led the successful effort to close the black liquor tax loopholes, helping save Arizonans 300 jobs in Navajo County and saving taxpayers more than $25 billion. I pushed for continual progress on the (Resolution Copper) Copper Basin Jobs Project, which would create more than 2,000 copper mining jobs at no cost to taxpayers, and the Four Forests Restoration Initiative, which will provide 600 jobs, improve forest health and attract new businesses. If I return to Congress, I will once again take a leadership role on these and other proposals to get Arizona and my district back on track.

I believe the private sector and small businesses drive our economy, and that means the federal government should work to ensure the private sector is as robust as possible. In Congress, I was appointed to the Small Business Committee because the majority of businesses in my district are small businesses. I took several votes to support our small businesses. Among them, I voted to extend credit to small businesses by establishing a $30 billion lending fund to invest in institutions like community banks; voted for legislation increasing credit unions’ ability to expand business loans; and supported tax breaks for small businesses and startups.

I also believe that when we invest in education, we’re investing in jobs and a strong economy. I believe we should strengthen our schools with modern classrooms, smaller class sizes and the most qualified teachers in the world. At the federal level, there are critical steps that can be taken to help a district like mine, which is so large and predominantly rural, with a dozen Native American tribes:

1) Bringing highly qualified teachers to rural areas and creating advancement opportunities, competitive pay and good benefits to help retain teaching talent in rural communities. For example, giving teachers on Native American reservations access to Native American health clinics and hospitals so they don’t have to drive hundreds of miles to get medical treatment. This would enable highly qualified teachers from anywhere in the country to live and teach in tribal communities.

2) Bringing reliable and consistent technology to rural communities to help students keep up with their urban counterparts and be prepared to compete in the global economy. For example, one of the biggest challenges in my district is the lack of broadband access, which prohibits students from having Internet access in many of the district’s more remote areas.

3) Securing funding for education-related transportation in rural districts. And with the rising cost of gasoline, rural districts like those in Arizona’s Congressional District 1 are struggling even more with the skyrocketing costs of transporting students by bus to and from school.

As for higher education, we should make college more affordable so students can compete for the jobs of the future. Arizona’s public higher-education system has suffered devastating cuts. I will be an advocate and fight for increased and proper funding for our colleges and universities. As a member of Congress, I will seek to link Arizona’s university system with federal funding and grant opportunities. We cannot afford to short-change our higher education system and our students. Without a top-tier public-education system, Arizona’s students will not be able to compete in a global economy.

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