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The Daily Wildcat

 

District debate ignites UA [w/ VIDEO]

Valentina Martinelli /Arizona Daily Wildcat
From left, Democrat Gabrielle Giffords, Republican Jesse Kelly and Libertarian Steven Stoltz debate in the South Ballroom in the SUMC on Monday Oct 18, 2010.
Valentina Martinelli
Valentina Martinelli /Arizona Daily Wildcat From left, Democrat Gabrielle Giffords, Republican Jesse Kelly and Libertarian Steven Stoltz debate in the South Ballroom in the SUMC on Monday Oct 18, 2010.

Yells from fervent supporters and hecklers slightly distracted participants in the 8th Congressional District debate on the UA campus on Monday night, which focused on many issues, most zealously immigration and education.

“”You’re a bottom feeder,”” “”Apples and oranges”” and “”You’re a liar”” were just some of the many yelps from the audience.

Lines ran out the door at 4 p.m. for the 7 p.m. debate in the South Ballroom of the Student Union Memorial Center. So many community members showed up that the crowd split in half, sending many to watch the live stream of the debate in the Gallagher Theater.

Christopher Conover of Arizona Public Media hosted Democratic incumbent Gabrielle Giffords, Republican Jesse Kelly and Libertarian Steven Stoltz in an hour-long debate that also hit on the recent health care bill, abortion rights, and Medicare and Social Security benefits in the future.

Two journalists, Jim Nintzel of the Tucson Weekly and Dan Shearer of the Green Valley News and Sun, and a student voice, Associated Students of the University of Arizona President Emily Fritze, sat on the panel with Conover asking questions of the candidates.

On Giffords’ campaign’s top priority, the border, the two-term representative defended stationary Border Patrol checkpoints and hoped to reform the health care bill by reviving a provision to aid hospitals that serve a large illegal immigrant population.

In answering Fritze’s question about the DREAM Act, which would provide youth with a six-year higher education or two-year military service path to citizenship, Giffords said, “”They come here at 1 and 2 years old, all they know is English, all they know is America. It is not fair to them to let the best and the brightest not to receive an education.””

Kelly, in favor of a double-layer border fence and ramping up Border Patrol along the border, countered Giffords with his position, stating “”the path to citizenship starts in your country of citizenship.””

His positions of the night favored his take on limited government and free market solutions to American economic problems. He came out against the DREAM Act.

Stoltz, who responded to questions most of the night with backings of toning down bank controls on the American economy and recognizing the Constitution when making governmental decisions also felt the DREAM Act was not in his best interest to support.

“”The way you’ve described it, it sounds nice … but I don’t think I can support it based on what I’ve heard about the other ‘gotchas’ in it.””

Fritze asked about Arizona’s public and higher education after the stimulus money terminates and the state abandons its 2006 funding levels.

“”The federal government came in with the stimulus money … and then $100 million cut from our university and here at the university, that is … we cannot continue to say we are a great state and prepare our future if we continue to make those cuts,”” Giffords said.

Kelly said, “”Keeping the federal government and Nancy Pelosi as far away from my kid’s education as possible,”” citing parents are where the education system needs to take their cues.

Stoltz cited Article 1, Section 9 of the Constitution and cited government favoritism, a problem he wanted to change, as the reason for disparities in educational funding.

The debate ended with two standing ovations, one for Jesse Kelly with about one-eighth of the audience and another for Gabrielle Giffords, which encompassed nearly two-thirds of the audience in the ballroom.

The next debates between Giffords and Kelly are Oct. 20 at the Buena High School Performing Arts Center in Sierra Vista at 5:30 p.m and Oct. 22 on the Arizona Illustrated program broadcast on KUAT at 6:30 p.m.

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