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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Candidates reach out to student voters with debate on campus

    District 7 congressional candidates Libertarian Joe Cobb, left, Democrat Raul Grijalva and Republican Ron Drake debate last night in the Kiva Room of the Student Union Memorial Center. Cobb and Drake are challenging the incumbent Grijalva, who was elected to Congress in 2003.
    District 7 congressional candidates Libertarian Joe Cobb, left, Democrat Raul Grijalva and Republican Ron Drake debate last night in the Kiva Room of the Student Union Memorial Center. Cobb and Drake are challenging the incumbent Grijalva, who was elected to Congress in 2003.

    Education, the minimum wage and the war in Iraq were hot topics in a debate between the District 7 congressional candidates last night in the Student Union Memorial Center.

    Democratic candidate Raul Grijalva, Republican candidate Ron Drake and Libertarian candidate Joe Cobb spoke to a group of about 80 students and faculty in an hour-long debate that started off addressing Arizona’s poor graduation rates.

    Grijalva advocated more funding towards Pell Grants, while Drake said Pell Grant fraud should first be addressed.

    “”We have not raised the Pell Grant in the last 10 years,”” Grijalva said, “”We need to make sure that every student has the potential to meet their potential.””

    Although Pell Grants can be helpful in advancing education, Drake said, Pell Grant fraud needs to be eliminated before funding can increase.

    However, a major problem in education is that students do not feel motivated to continue further into higher education, Cobb said.

    Cobb said experimental teaching that digresses from the present bureaucratic model may help to motivation students.

    Cobb joked throughout the debate, much like fellow Libertarian Barry Hess in last week’s gubernatorial debate, bringing laughter from the audience in moments of intensity or silence.

    “”Since I have no delusion in thinking that I am going to come from behind and win this election,”” Cobb said prior to the debate, “”I can come out and say things that others might not like so much.””

    Grijalva said supports the proposition that will boost Arizona’s minimum wage to $7.25 per hour.

    But making more jobs available in Arizona will significantly add to Arizona’s economy, Drake said.

    Cobb argued that while the idea of raising minimum wage sounds great in theory, it may actually add to the rising rate of unemployment.

    The candidates also had contrasting views about the war in Iraq.

    While Cobb and Grijalva both advocated using congressional power to help declare the end of the Iraq war, Drake said he believes American presence is much needed in Iraq.

    “”Bush made a huge, colossal blunder when he made the decision to go into Iraq,”” Cobb said. “”I would work to get U.S. forces out of the Middle East.””

    October has been the bloodiest for U.S. soldiers since the war began, and the month is not over yet, Grijalva said.

    “”I don’t like to hear Americans talk about cowardess,”” Drake said in a rebuttal. “”I believe we need to be in Iraq now, and we need to finish the course.””

    Michael Fitzsimmons, a political science junior, said he liked what each candidate had to say about the war.

    “”It’s an important issue for kids our age, because we all know someone over there now,”” Fitzsimmons said.

    Marcela Garcia-Castanon, a senior majoring in political science and communication, said she enjoyed the candidates’ discussion of minimum wage.

    “”Minimum wage affects us directly,”” Garcia-Castanon said. “”That’s where I started, and it’s nice to know where I, and where all of us, will end up.””

    As this race gets tighter, student votes could be critical to the outcome, Grijalva said before the debate.

    Drake said he challenges all students to define their generation by getting out and voting.

    Seema Patel, speakers board director for the Associated Students of the University of Arizona, said the debate came as a result of planning that began last summer.

    The debate cost less than $500, as major expenses were limited to advertising and room rental costs, said ASUA President Erin Hertzog.

    The urban center of District 7 encompasses the central, south, and west sides of the city of Tucson, but does not include the area of the University of Arizona. The district also includes the La Paz and Yuma counties and parts of Maricopa, Pima, Pinal and Santa Cruz county, according to the nationalatlas.gov Web site.

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