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West campus hosts candidate debates

FREE DEBATE: Candidates from district ten gathered in the La Sala Ballroom on the West campus for a debate Monday night. (Photo by Aaron Lavinsky)
FREE DEBATE: Candidates from district ten gathered in the La Sala Ballroom on the West campus for a debate Monday night. (Photo by Aaron Lavinsky)

Candidates for Congressional District 2 and Legislative District 10 discussed education, immigration and health care at a debate sponsored by the ASU College Republicans and the Young Democrats at the West campus Monday night.

Immigration was the issue that divided U.S. Rep. Trent Franks, a Republican running for his fifth term, from his challengers: Democrat John Thrasher and Libertarian Powell Gammill.

District 2 covers part of northwest Phoenix, Sunnyslope and Glendale. District 10 is centered in north Phoenix.

Franks said Arizona’s immigration law — SB 1070 — has been misunderstood at the national level, and many parts of the law are already in existence at the federal level.

He also said SB 1070 helps to maintain national security.

“We absolutely have to know who is coming into our country from the outside,” Franks said.

Thrasher said better national immigration policy was needed and that state-by-state policy was ineffective.

“I believe Congress has failed in its duty to form a national immigration policy,” Thrasher said.

Gammill said the bill wouldn’t solve Arizona’s problems.

“I’m an open border kind of person,” he said

Democratic candidate Aaron Jahneke, running for state representative, said he thought SB 1070 didn’t address the true problems, including illegally trafficking drugs and guns across the border.

He said he thought the main goal of the legislation was to encourage illegal immigrants to leave the state, and he thought alternatives could be pursued.

The other democratic candidates echoed his sentiments for a different solution.

“I believe our immigration laws must be enforceable and protect human dignity,” said Jackie Thrasher, a democratic candidate for state representative and a wife of John Thrasher.

Republicans Linda Gray, Jim Weiers and Kimberly Yee all supported SB 1070.

District 2 candidates also voiced their opinions on national health care reform.

Franks said he voted against health care reform when it came through the House and would vote against it again.

“Everyone should have equal access to health care, but I don’t think you should pay for my health care,” Franks said.

Thrasher said health care was in need of reform and he approved of the changes, including preventing people from being dropped from their health care plan and allowing people with pre-existing conditions to receive care.

“Many people have been denied health care while the insurance companies raked in trillions,” Thrasher said.

All the candidates for the state Legislature agreed changes in public K-12 education are necessary.

Republican incumbent Jim Weiers said the Senate should focus on the districts that are succeeding and replicate those strategies.

He also said parents fail to take responsibility for their children and teachers become responsible for the health and wellness of a child.

“It’s amazing how little time is dedicated to actually teaching,” Weiers said.

Yee, Republican state senator for District 10, said improving education was vital to economic growth and she would increase transparency on education spending.

Jackie Thrasher said she would try to hire more teachers, increase salaries for teachers and get more federal funding.

“We’ve got to take the formula for funding public education and blow it up and start over again,” Thrasher said.

Democrat Justin Johnson, a Senate candidate for District 10, said the current education system in Arizona was “setting students up for failure.”

He said he thought money could be managed in a way to improve the system.

“I think investing money is important but throwing money at the problem is not the answer,” Johnson said.

Gray said community colleges offer opportunities for people in rural areas to go to college without leaving their community. This also leads to greater economic health in those areas.

“One of the best dollars spent on education is in our community college system,” Gray said.

Leonard Montez, political science senior and the treasurer for the Young Democrats at the West campus, said all of the politicians walked around the issues at the debate, especially in regards to education.

Matthew Phy, the president of the College Republicans at the West campus and a political science junior, also said few concrete answers were presented.

“A lot of them didn’t answer the questions on both sides,” Phy said.

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