Arizona's first congressional district is one of the most competitive in this year's House election. With incumbent Represntative Ann Kirpatrick running for Senate, the open seat means the battleground district is up for grabs. Nine On Your Side sat down with the republican and democratic candidates on what issues are important to them.
Geographically, it's the largest congressional district in the state. Stretching from the northeast border down to the northern Pima County, district one is a battleground playing field. With seven candidates in the race, the open seat district has a chance to land in the hands of a republican.
On the republican side: Pinal County Sherriff Paul Babeu, retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Wendy Rogers, former Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, Navajo businessman ShawnRedd and Arizona cattleman Gary Kiehne.
For the democrats: former state lawmaker Tom O'Halleran and former House staff member Miguel Olivas.
One of the top priorities for the candidates in their district is getting the economy back on track.
Sheriff Paul Babeu: "We want to create an environment in which the trillions, that's trillion with a T, that are offshore from us, companies, comes back into the US so we reduce the corporate taxes, not to protect billionaires but to protect the investment into creation of jobs and the growth of our economy."
Col. Wendy Rogers: "I employ several employees and the oppressive regulation and taxation that mounts more every year is onerous and debilitative to job growth. As a small business owner, my lean forward position is to have government out of the way more and more as much as possible."
Ken Bennett: "Reducing regulations, lowering and flattening our tax code, getting rid of all kinds of job killing regulations like Dodd-Frank. Obamacare has caused businesses to only employ people for so many hours a week, there's just lots of inadvertent consequences of regulations that are killing jobs."
Shawn Redd: "I grew up off the reservation I understand those markets, I work on the reservation I've done business on the reservation for 20 years and yet I'm half caucasian. I've done business in metro areas as well. I think that's what it is you have to be prepared to travel this district, meet with your constituency and understand the diversity."
The democratic candidates are focusing on rebuilding within the district's underdeveloped communities.
Tom O'Halleran: "Recognize the attributes of rural Arizona and try to maximize those attributes, not only for Arizona, but for rural America and find a way to make sure that the jobs we currently have in rural Arizona are kept. We have 12 Native American tribes in our district so we need to find a way to take what is in some cases 50-80% unemployment and work with the tribes to try to find ways to maximize their potential and bring businesses and the surrounding communities."
Miguel Olivas: "75-80% is rural. they lack the infrastructure, and this is true across the country. Most communities lack the infrastructure, whether it's roads, buildings, dilapidated schools they don't have the technology. We need to work on communications on and off the reservations in terms of building communication systems."
One thing they can all agree on is developing a better education system.
Sheriff Pual Babeu: "What I'd like to see happen is take block grants, to take that money and give it back to the states and allow the state of Arizona and any other state, proportionally, to divide that money and allow us to make those decisions because I trust local decisions and local control far more than I would ever trust those in Washington."
Col. Wendy Rogers: "There is a wide variety of educational opportunity in Arizona in particular and I'm happy about that. I think it's up to the parent, the parents, the family to decide what is best for their children. Not the government."
Ken Bennett: "What I'm going to work for is to make sure that the funding for and the authorization and the the things that are needed to help make education better needs to happen at the state and the local level and not be dictated to us by Washington."
Tom O'Halleran: "We have to find a way, and this is where the federal government can play a role as long as they don't get into a regulatory issue, find a way to level this playing field so that all children in our state have the ability in the future to compete."
Miguel Olivas: "We can't just continue to educate children on the arts like the old days. We need to focus education on the right education. Meaning, technology and math and jobs that will help children in the future and that goes for higher education as well."
Gary Kiehne is also running for office. Primary elections will take place on Tuesday, August 30th.