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Democratic U.S. Senate candidates square off
Four Democratic candidates who are seeking their party's nomination to run for a chance to represent Arizona in the U.S. Senate squared off face to face Wednesday during a debate at Arizona Western College.
The four candidates — Cathy Eden, John Dougherty, Randy Parraz and Rodney Glassman — answered questions fielded by a panel of journalists concerning topics important to Arizona and what they would do, if elected, in the U.S. Senate. The debate was recorded and replayed later on KAWC 88.9 FM, the college radio station.
Panelist Stephanie Wilken, a Yuma Sun reporter, asked the candidates what they thought about the epic unemployment rate in Yuma and if they supported continuing unemployment benefits.
“To think the senator we have right now is worried about extending George Bush's tax cuts and not worried about unemployment is just a terrible travesty of justice,” Eden said of incumbent John McCain.
“Absolutely it has to be extended and it will be extended. Families are hurting so much and we can talk politics all we want, but what they need is jobs.”
Dougherty also supports the extension of unemployment benefits.
“The recession that we are now facing is not the result of anything the Democrats or Barack Obama caused,” he said.
“It is a direct result of the Republicans who were in control of the Congress and the presidency that allowed the deficit to go from 6 to 12 trillion dollars and create a financial catastrophe that damn near took the world economy down.
“As far as the unemployment situation in Yuma — we need to diversify the economy.”
Glassman is concerned about creating new jobs.
“Residents in Yuma and throughout Arizona are starving for jobs,” he said. “We all know one of the best ways to keep the economy moving is to make sure people have dollars to spend. The extension of unemployment benefits is a logical way to keep our economy moving ... Since the Fourth of July, hundreds of thousands of families have not known where their next check is going to come from to put food on their table because we have a senator like John McCain who isn't concerned about the working families of Arizona.”
Panelist Kim Johnson, a KAWC personality, asked the group about their position on SB 1070, the controversial law that allows law enforcement to question a person's legal status if there is reasonable suspicion they are in the country illegally.
“I understand the anger and frustration among Arizona's (citizens),” Parraz said. “This is not an immigration law. That is the problem with SB 1070. It was (created) by ultraconservative right-wing agenda to instill fear into the community, particularly the Latino community — the immigrant community who for generations have been part of our social fabric in Arizona.
“It is a black mark on all of us in Arizona to see this type of legislation pass at this time that does nothing for border security. It does nothing for immigration reform.”
Dougherty blamed the creation of SB 1070 on the Republicans.
“SB 1070 is a direct result of Sen. McCain's failure to push through immigration reform in 2007 when he had the opportunity to take care of this issue,” he said.
“He was more interested in running for president than he was in doing the right thing to secure and stabilize the immigration problem in Arizona and across the country. SB 1070 as a result was a knee jerk reaction. I am opposed to SB 1070. I hope that the federal lawsuit results in an injunction to keep it from being implemented.”
When asked about border security, Dougherty presented what may be a controversial solution to the drug war raging in Mexico.
“The war on drugs is a complete and total failure,” he said. “The war on drugs is destabilizing Mexico — 25,000 people have been killed in the last few years. The facts do not support the continuation of this policy. We need to move it out of a criminal enforcement model that has failed to keep drugs off the street and protect our youth and into a medical treatment model. Regulation and taxation will provide money to reduce government deficits and fund treatment programs and advertising to discourage drug use.”
Eden did not agree.
“I'm not ready to give up on the war on drugs yet,” she said. “I think we need to keep talking about what these drugs can do. We need to keep talking with our kids. As generations keep coming up, we are going to have to keep working on it.”
Chris McDaniel can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6849.