Three Republican candidates are competing for the chance to run against Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick in new Congressional District 1, and they were campaigning in SaddleBrooke last week.
The three Republicans include former State Sen. Jonathan Paton, Patrick Gatti and Doug Wade.
The candidates met at the SaddleBrooke Republican Club meeting on June 13.
In their brief introductions, Gatti identified himself as a businessman.
“My background is business,” he said. “We need to take the restrictions on businesses and take them off. We need to vote the way that gets people back to work.”
Gatti started a business in 1977 and sold it in 2003.
Wade, also identified himself as a businessman.
“This is the first time in my life you can call me a politician,” he said. “I’m a private sector guy. I know what it means to balance a checkbook at home with my family. I know what it means to balance a checkbook in a business.”
Paton has worked in politics before, serving four years as a House Representative and two years as a Senator in the Arizona State Legislature.
Following brief introductions, residents were given time to ask the candidates questions.
When asked why the election is important for SaddleBrooke residents and why each candidate was the right one, Gatti answered first.
“I stand for the same values that you stand for,” he said. “I stand for what you want and what you need.”
Paton told residents that CD1 is one of the most important districts in the state.
The new map of CD1 begins with Oro Valley and Marana and extends all the way north to the Utah border, making it one of the largest districts in the nation.
“They created these maps for one reason and one reason only, and that is to divide us,” Paton said of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission.
Thirty percent of voters in the district are registered Republican, 39 percent Democrat and 30 percent Independent.
“This election is going to be won by the candidate who appeals best to Independents,” Wade said, calling himself a new Republican. “I have a clean background. There’s nothing for Ann Kirkpatrick to dig up.”
One resident asked Wade to explain what he meant by him being the only candidate with a clean background.
“I’m new to this game,” Wade said, referring to Paton. “I’m not running as a perennial politician.”
Paton responded to the implication that he is an establishment politician.
“I’ve never walked away from a fight in my life,” he said.
A confident Paton said SaddleBrooke residents are going to play a big role in the upcoming elections.
“The choice is between myself and an environmentalist from Flagstaff,” he said. “I have the ability to win.”
Another resident asked candidates for three things they would do about immigration and the Fast and Furious controversy that continues to brew at the federal level.
“The only thing one individual can do is vote against a certain bill or certain person,” Gatti said.”
Wade agreed that political will is necessary for dealing with illegal immigration, and also presented a solution, suggesting the government should contract with the private sector to get illegal immigrants registered, working and paying legally into the system.
Paton, along with his opponents, stressed the first priority is to secure the border.
When it came to the Fast and Furious controversy, the three candidates agreed that tough questions must be asked, and those responsible must be prosecuted.