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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    2006 elections: Wildcat opinions board endorsements

    We hope that you’ll find these endorsements useful as you consider the candidates, regardless of whether or not you come to agree with our final conclusions.

    These endorsement weren’t all easy for us to come to: the Wildcat Opinions Board comprises members who align themselves with Democratic, Republican, Libertarian and otherwise independent politics and policies. We conducted careful research, including candidate interviews both in person and by e-mail. We tried our hardest to look beyond party lines. We debated, argued and persuaded.

    And, most importantly, we prioritized. The editorial endorsements of this paper weighted the candidates’ positions on education – particularly at the university level – extremely heavily. We considered it our first priority when debating the merits of these men and women, because it is the issue that affects every single member of this campus community.

    The second issue weighted was a candidate’s stance on immigration – given the UA’s location so close to the border with Mexico, this is an issue with major impact on our community.

    We did not base our endorsements on candidates’ stances on moral issues – those are decisions that this board believes strongly must be made on a personal level.

    More important than the candidate a paper endorses is the intent of the endorsement itself. Newspaper endorsements should never be an attempt to “”finish the debate.”” They’re just one more step in the public discussion that representative democracy entitles us all to.

    The purpose of settling on a candidate isn’t to pontificate or to push an opinion down the throats of unsuspecting readers. That’s why this section is called “”Opinions”” – not just “”Opinion.”” The information and viewpoints in this section of the paper are included in the hopes that they will inform your own opinion, not necessarily become it.

    Hopefully, these endorsements will be useful to inform the opinions you hold and to continue your own discussions of these issues.

    And most of all, we hope to see you at the polls this November.

    Gov. Janet Napolitano: Arizona Governor
    Four years ago, confidence in the governorship of Arizona was in a crisis.

    Through a series of mishaps, our state had acquired a reputation for poor governors. Evan Mecham made racist comments and was forced out, Fife Symington was forced to resign after a criminal conviction and Jane Hull left in disgrace after the AltFuels fiasco.

    Gov. Janet Napolitano also faced negative headwinds with the economy and entered the office with a massive budget deficit to deal with.

    Four years later, Napolitano has Arizona on the upswing. The budget deficit became a surplus without tax increases, and Napolitano has been thought of as a leader on immigration policy. She’s focused on education and made improvements in several areas of Arizona government. Even her opponents concede she’s sharp and approaches problems pragmatically.

    UA students stand to be better off with Napolitano. In her budgets, she always asks the Republican-controlled Legislature for increased funding for Arizona universities, and she fights hard when legislators try to cut it. When there were budget deficits, state universities looked like easy places to cut funding, but Napolitano made it a priority not to. When she’s asked what her top priority is, education is at or near the top of the list.

    She also supports Arizona community colleges and consistently advocates for better access to higher education.

    Len Munsil stepped up to challenge Napolitano after more viable Republican candidates realized she has done too good of a job to be defeated. He’s gregarious and has run a clean campaign, but he has campaigned primarily on hot-button moral issues and a promise to be stricter about immigration – including what we consider to be a misguided plan to deploy National Guard troops to the border. He would be more likely to pursue ideological changes to education than invest in Arizona’s knowledge economy.

    There’s a reason Time magazine named Napolitano one of the top five governors in America. She easily deserves to be re-elected.

    Jim Pederson: U.S. Senate
    More a vote against Sen. Jon Kyl than a vote for Jim Pederson, our endorsement is ultimately a reflection of what constitutes any re-election campaign: a referendum on the incumbent. It’s disappointing that these two men have chosen to run such mud-slinging campaigns against each other in a race that has attracted national attention as being particularly dirty.

    Kyl has a couple of advantages in this campaign. The power of incumbency is a potent one. And his anti-pork-barrel spending philosophy puts America’s fiscal health ahead of narrow political interests – his major strength.

    Unfortunately, Kyl’s vision of a strong Arizona and America isn’t one we can get behind. On higher education, Kyl voted against an expansion of the Pell Grant program. On immigration, Kyl lauded the border fence while voting against “”path to citizenship”” programs for illegal immigrants.

    It seems then that Kyl’s vision for Arizona is overly retrograde at exactly the time when forward-thinking solutions are necessary. Increasing the accessibility of higher education enhances American economic competitiveness along with myriad other issues. For as much political muscle as he’s developed through his incumbency, we just haven’t seen enough action from Kyl on these issues.

    Pederson, on the other hand, is difficult to grasp, a man seemingly composed of somewhat standard talking points. However, he has expressed commitment to Arizona’s people and its students – and at this point, testing an unknown candidate seems slightly better than the lack of results we’ve gotten from the one we know.

    At a time when Republicans in Washington overtly abuse their power, scrapping substance for scandal, Arizona could use a change of direction. Jim Pederson gets our vote – narrowly.

    Gabrielle Giffords: Congressional District 8
    Gabrielle Giffords’ campaign has rallied around the slogan “”It’s time for a change,”” and it seems that she’s prepared to offer Arizona one. Her opponent, Randy Graf, has made a name for himself as someone who will get tough on immigration with zero-tolerance policies. But immigration seems to be the only issue he’s ready to tackle. His educational policies are built on pithy sayings about parents’ choice and lack in substance. Giffords has the right ideas when it comes to helping Arizona students – she wants to see class sizes decrease and access to Pell Grants increase. She’s on track when it comes to fixing No Child Left Behind, too: She wants to see the test tailored to the types of knowledge the 21st century calls for along with increased focus on math and science education in the classroom. Giffords also has the excitement and drive of one of our youngest candidates in years. She’s got the keys to help Arizona enter the 21st century, and the Wildcat Opinions Board is excited to see what she can do if elected.

    Rep. Raul Grijalva: Congressional District 7
    District 7 Rep. Raul Grijalva is committed to making higher education accessible to his constituency – and during his interview, he expressed with us the importance of increasing the amount of aid given in federal Pell Grants to match the pace of inflation. He’s got unique ideas on aiding recent graduates mired in debt from student loans, and he expressed a commitment to getting back on track this term. District 7 includes 300 miles of border with Mexico – the second-largest stretch of border in any congressional district in the U.S. Border issues are particularly relevant here, and Grijalva’s got firmer footing than his opponent, Ron Drake. Drake supports increased deployment of National Guard troops to the area, a dubious solution at best, whereas Grijalva has shown himself to be committed to a holistic solution, even calling the proposed wall political posturing. We believe

    Grijalva’s more nuanced approach will better serve District 7.

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