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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “Education, health care addressed in debate”

    Republican representative Ry Ellison, left, ASUA Senator and debate moderator Ezekiel Gebrekidane and Democratic representative Vince Rabago debate education and health care on behalf of their parties presidential candidates on Monday in the Gallagher Theater.
    Republican representative Ry Ellison, left, ASUA Senator and debate moderator Ezekiel Gebrekidane and Democratic representative Vince Rabago debate education and health care on behalf of their parties’ presidential candidates on Monday in the Gallagher Theater.

    The countdown to Election Day is in the single digits, as representatives for Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama duked it out at the Student Union Memorial Center’s Gallagher Theater on Monday afternoon.

    The debate, put on by the Associated Students of the University of Arizona and the African-Americans in Life Sciences Club, squared UA College Republican President Ry Ellison off against the chairman of the Pima County Democratic Party, Vince Rabago.

    The students jotted down questions on index cards as both representatives shared final words before everyone heads off to the voting booths.

    This debate was to give students some last minute exposure and education on issues that will affect them, said Ezekiel Gebrekidane, moderator and former ASUA senator.

    “”(In this debate), you got a lot less of the political rhetoric that you see in the national debate, while still addressing the issues that the candidates represent,”” said spectator and political science senior Jeremy Kaplan. “”So it was a refreshing look at the political process.””

    While the debate included the expected political sparring, what came out of the event was information on issues that voters will carry with them as Election Day nears, he said.

    “”They both held their own, and they were very educated on the issues,”” Kaplan said. “”And both prefaced their debate on saying that they were not professionals … they were amateur political observers. But they both really stuck to what their candidates were arguing for, and I think they both represented both sides very fairly.””

    Ellison and Rabago, after promoting their candidates, reminded the audience that they were only representatives. And on the issues of education or health care, they were not experts.

    “”(But) you don’t need to be expert to see the state our country is in,”” said Rabago, as the education portion of the debate began.

    Gebrekidane sat between them and raised questions regarding K-12 education, federal aid and the quality of higher education.

    Ellison has a personal connection to the issue as his mother, aunts and grandmother are all teachers. But, in the end, both representatives agreed that the No Child Left Behind Act needs reform.

    For college education, Ellison talked about streamlining the FAFSA process, eliminating earmarks for research grants and fixing student lending. Rabago spoke on simplifying forms, increasing the Pell Grant and partially refunding tuition in the form of tax credit.

    “”If you don’t invest in (education), you’re going to lag behind,”” Rabago said.

    The debate came to close after the representatives answered about 20 student questions that ranged from the war in Iraq to the environment.

    “”They both did extremely well, and they both were excited in helping students,”” Gebrekidane said. “”Both campaigns are asking for change, and students should get involved because this will affect them.””

    While the candidates’ opinions on national issues may vary, the representatives’ respect for each other never wavered, Kaplan said.

    “”I was very impressed with what these representatives said, because they were fair to their side and fair to the other side as well,”” Kaplan said.

    “”(In the end), it was a good healthy debate,”” Ellison said.

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