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Governor candidates debate SB 1070’s effect on Arizona

(Photos by Yousef Hawash)
(Photos by Yousef Hawash)

Four candidates vying for Arizona’s highest office met at ASU’s Downtown campus Wednesday night for the first post-primary debate in the state’s gubernatorial race.

The candidates discussed the effects of the state’s tough new immigration law, with Gov. Jan Brewer saying the law helps Arizona while three opponents felt it had hurt the state in some way.

In the debate held by the Citizens Clean Elections Commission, Brewer said Senate Bill 1070 would have made Arizona stronger had certain provisions not been blocked by a U.S. district court pending the outcome of several lawsuits against the law.

“I think that [the law] has not only united Arizona, but it has united America,” Brewer said. “I will not back down. We will continue to move forward.”

The other candidates, Democrat Terry Goddard, Libertarian Barry Hess and Green party candidate Larry Gist, countered Brewer’s statements saying that SB 1070 did not help Arizona.

The immigration law does not secure the border, Goddard said, and that’s what Arizonans should be focusing on.

“We’ve been playing defense way too long on the border, and it’s time now to go on the offensive, go after the cartel bosses [and] cut them off,” he said. “The only way people come across the border illegally is with organized criminal help.”

Hess said he has a definite plan to stop illegal immigration, part of which is to stop giving people an incentive to come here illegally.

“And that, I think, is really going to be key,” Hess said. “To stop putting a tub of honey in our front yard and then telling the bears across the street that they can’t have any.”

Gist also said border security should be the main concern and that SB 1070 has taken its toll on Arizona.

The immigration law has hurt the state’s image, Gist said.

“It’s hurt our tourism, so to say it hasn’t hurt us is not true,” he said.

Brewer said unions that support Goddard are responsible for Arizona’s declining economy.

“It’s because people like Mr. Goddard’s supporters, the unions that are calling out and screaming out for the boycott,” Brewer said. “They want to drive our economy down, and they want to take jobs away from people that desperately need them; that’s where the problem is.”

Goddard then pointed to Brewer’s claims of beheadings on the border and the toll those statements must be taking on the economy.

“What is hurting us right now economically are statements, false statements made by Jan Brewer, about how Arizona has become so violent, that we are a place of fear,” Goddard said. “Those are false statements that cause people to think that Arizona is a dangerous place, and they don’t come here and they don’t invest here because our governor has said such negative things about our state.”

Brewer said her plan to boost the state’s economy and create jobs involves reforming Arizona’s tax structure.

“I think that we have to very seriously work at the tax structure, income tax reform, to make us more competitive with California,” Brewer said.

Goddard said it took Brewer too long to start the Commerce Authority, which was created by Brewer through an executive order and is intended to revise Arizona’s tax structure.

“Jan Brewer’s been in office for 20 months and I think the idea of a Commerce Authority is a good one, but it took 18 months for her to even announce it, and then they have their first meeting on the 24th of September,” Goddard said. “That is not the way you respond to an emergency.”

Gist said the best way to create jobs was to create more manufacturing jobs.

“We need to look at creating manufacturing jobs, we need to get back to the basics, in terms of our structure and in terms of providing manufacturing,” Gist said. “Not just buying from somewhere else and assembling here, but building here and utilize a lot more of our resources as a state.”

Hess said 90 percent of jobs created historically have been in the private sector, which is currently too regulated.

“I propose eliminating many of those regulations so that people can grow without having to look over their shoulder to see if the government fee guy or permit guy is around the corner,” Hess said.

They also discussed education, with Goddard pointing to Brewer’s cut to K-12 education and inability to balance the budget.

Brewer justified her cuts to education and said she supported Proposition 100, which implemented a sales tax increase to support education.

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