House District 26 candidates Rep. Nancy Young Wright and Don Jorgensen, both Democrats, and Marilyn Zerull and Vic Williams, both Republicans, voiced their opinions on specific subjects at a recent Clean Elections debate.
How would you balance the educational and health care needs of underprivileged children with the shrinking discretionary budget?
Williams spoke about health care access through KidsCare, and “ensuring equal education is provided to all children.”
Young Wright would “review the entire tax code. Too many tax credits are draining our general fund. … In times like these, we have to look at everything.”
“We have to set priorities,” said Zerull. Full funding for education is her priority. “In other areas, we need to cut back.”
“We do need to reform how we fund education,” Jorgensen said. He would examine the tax code, and “eliminate the transfer of public tax dollars to private interests.”
“We have to reform a broken health care system as well,” Jorgensen said. Underinsurance, and affordable coverage for small business, are his concerns. “We have to talk about it like adults and be realistic.”
On illegal immigration …
“The federal government has failed to provide Arizona with resources, and has failed to reimburse Arizona for the costs” of illegal immigration, Young Wright said.
“We have to recognize people are coming here because they’re desperate.” She called for compassion, and an understanding “they’re fellow human beings. They’re not cattle or camels.”
“We need to enforce the immigration laws we have on the books,” Zerull said. Many illegal immigrants believe they’re entitled to public services “because we haven’t enforced those laws. … We need to stop the giveaways. If you stop the draw, they’re less likely to come. We want people to come here legally, that’s the key.”
She said Arizona should give “law enforcement personnel the right to identify illegal aliens. Identify the problem, and take steps to solve it.”
“We need comprehensive immigration reform,” Jorgensen said. A secure border would help “eliminate human and drug smuggling.
“We need to look at it as an economic opportunity,” he said.
With an expanded guest worker program, “Arizona can become a processing state for folks who want to come work legally,” he said. “We can turn it into a benefit for Arizona.”
Williams said Arizona should enforce quality illegal immigration laws. “We must ensure law enforcement has the tools to correctly and easily identify people.” He supports a strong guest-worker program.
Do you support the use of public school vouchers for private education?
“I oppose transferring public money to private institutions … in this case, with no accountability,” Jorgensen said.
“I support our public education system, and I believe in choice,” Williams said. He mentioned “a pilot program” on private school vouchers.
“I don’t agree with using vouchers for private schools,” Young Wright said. Arizona is “awash” in school choice.
“We’re going to improve education through competition,” Zerull said. “We need to allow parents to decide. All schools fundamentally should be able to have the funding necessary to improve the child’s education.”
On Proposition 102, defining marriage in the Arizona Constitution as between one man and one woman.
“No on 102,” Jorgensen said. The heterosexual definition of marriage is “already state law, #1. … The real threats” to marriage are drug and alcohol abuse and addiction, adultery and more, he said.
“I’m voting no,” Williams said. “Statutes are quite fine in protecting the institution of marriage.”
“No,” Young Wright said. “It’s unnecessary.” She saw “how much destruction this issue brought our state” because it distracted the Legislature from taking care of other business. “It’s a wedge issue, and I’m very, very sorry we fell prey to this, and that it’s on the ballot at all.”
Zerull supports 102. She said “the institution of marriage between one man and one woman” should be protected from “activist judges.” The amendment would protect an institution that is “the foundation of our society.”