Gubernatorial hopefuls Tuesday discussed issues related to education, immigration and the state’s economy as part of a series of five forums for statewide elections.
The forum was held at Phoenix Central High School and drew a diverse crowd of Arizonans interested in hearing what the candidates had to say about the issues.
The GOP, Democratic and independent candidates spoke about the biggest education problems facing Arizona and explained how they would address the issues if they were elected in the fall.
Gubernatorial Republcian hopefuls Ken Bennett, Doug Ducey, Christine Jones, Frank Riggs, Scott Smith and Andrew Thomas, Democrat Fred DuVal and independent Barry Hess attended the event.
Though the candidates did not agree on how to properly address the issue of illegal immigration in Arizona, all Republican candidates said they would have signed Senate Bill 1070 in 2010 and would support similar provisions in the future.
“I absolutely support the provision of SB 1070 that would allow a local law enforcement officer to detain and arrest any individual when they have probable cause to believe that that individual has illegally entered the country,” Riggs said.
Bennett said would have signed SB 1070 but said that an immigration system that allows a “front door mechanism” to work is necessary to control the border.
“When a neighbor wants to visit a neighbor they call ahead and come to your front door … we are a nation of immigrants and we need to be welcoming people in through the front door,” he said.
Other candidates considered Arizona’s education system a matter of primary concern.
“Not all schools are succeeding, and we should be very clear on what’s happened in Arizona over the last couple of years,” Fred DuVal said. He added, “We have cut our education spending…deeper on a per student basis than any state in the country … No more cuts!”
Smith said that a strong school system breeds a strong economy.
“Every child deserves an excellent education…it is our responsibility to provide [school children] that opportunity,” he said.
Jones said more money should to be put into the classroom.
“[We need to] find places where we’re spending money that we don’t need to spend and take that and get it into the classroom,” she said.
While few disagreed, most candidates said they would not support corporate welfare programs in the state of Arizona.
Thomas said that corporate welfare programs are not an effective way to grow Arizona’s economy.
“I think the way to grow our economy is to keep our taxes and regulations low, particularly compared to states that we are competing with,” he said.
Univision Arizona, the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, ABC 15 and the Phoenix Union School District co-sponsored Tuesday’s event.