Ann Kirkpatrick

Before newly-elected Arizona Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick makes her way to Washington D.C. for her Jan. 3 swear-in, she is making her rounds through Congressional District 1 to speak with community leaders and residents, and collect input that she will take with her to Capitol Hill.

Not surprisingly, much of that feedback has been related to the economy, which Kirkpatrick said is the main reason she ran for Congress in the first place, and which will continue to be a first priority.

“It’s all about diversifying the economy, and job growth in Arizona,” she said. “That’s why I ran, that’s my platform, and we’re already meeting with mayors and city councils and talking about economic development and growth.”

Kirkpatrick said one consideration already being made is a transportation corridor for shipping in Northwest Tucson.

“Part of my vision is bringing back a manufacturing base,” she said. “It’s exciting, and I’m very optimistic about Arizona’s opportunity to grow. Economically, I think we are a great state, and this is the atime to do it.”

Taking a moment to address another growing problem that has affected citizens on the local and nation scale – Kirkpatrick touched on the rising number of mass shootings across the country, the most recent of which occurred at an elementary school in Newtown Conn., where the lives of 20 children and six staff members were taken by a lone gunman

“Everything is on the table, and I think we really need to have a meaningful conversation about this, absolutely,” she said. “I’m a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, and I grew up hunting, but there is a real difference between a hunting rifle, and an automatic rifle. It’s a conversation people really want to have, that has definitely been lacking. I’ve been saying that since the shooting down here two years ago. These are such tragic events.”

Congressman Ron Barber, of District 2, recently laid out his opinion on the matter, saying, “We must not wait any longer to address this crisis. But we must also recognize that these issues are not the only pieces in a complex problem to which there is no single answer.

“Untreated serious mental illness and access to weapons with heavy firepower are the underlying causes in a number of these violent incidents. It is well-known now that this is what caused the tragic January 2011 shooting near Tucson in which six people were killed and 13 others – including then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and me – were injured.”

While the nation is hopeful to see a bipartisan solution on this issue, there is another in which Kirkpatrick does not see compromise occurring – the fast-approaching fiscal cliff.

“I think it’s unlikely,” she said. “I just came back from Washington D.C. about a week ago, and the thought when I left was that it is unlikely they will be able to get anything done. We’re a week from Christmas. The closer you get to the holidays, the less likely it is something meaningful will get done.”

Kirkpatrick added that with 84 new members of Congress coming in, she is hopeful to see a fresh take and less partisanship in Washington.

Kirkpatrick, who plans to make frequent visits to Southern Arizona, will have branch locations in Oro Valley, and likely in Marana.

Kirkpatrick’s new office at Capitol Hill is located in the Cannon building, room 330.

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