State budget cuts to education got little love from three people who want to represent Legislative District 2 - and have a chance to vote on the budget - in the House of Representatives.
Democrats Andrea Dalessandro and Rosanna Gabaldón and Republican Christopher Ackerley shared their views on education and other topics at a half-hour debate in Rio Rico Thursday. Since each party nominates two candidates, all three automatically advance to the Nov. 6 general election.
Legislative District 2 includes parts of Pima and Santa Cruz counties.
Dalessandro, a retired CPA and teacher, said she doesn't agree with recent state budget cuts to education and would use surplus funds to restore funding for programs including all-day kindergarten.
Sahuarita Town Council member Gabaldón said she would evaluate programs for their value before restoring funds, but she said further cuts would hurt the state's economy.
Ackerley, a high school physics teacher, said a balanced budget is good but the cuts were ugly. Future budget talks must include a re-examination of priorities, he said. He said two top priorities should be vocational education and early childhood education, including all-day kindergarten.
Candidates were also asked if they would support a law eliminating sex education from the public-school curriculum, like the one that was passed by the Utah Legislature and vetoed by that state's governor.
Dalessandro and Gabaldón said the state should offer guidelines for information taught in sex ed classes.
Ackerley said that should be a local school district decision.
"We have seen way too much of the state Legislature trying to step in and solve local school district problems," he said.
He also said school districts that teach sex ed should offer an opt-out.
All the candidates said they support state requirements for immunizations for public-school students but said they were not in favor of extending that requirement to home-schooled or private-school students.
On another topic, all the candidates are opposed to making the Border Patrol checkpoint on Interstate 19 permanent.
Dalessandro and Gabaldón said they would support a permanent checkpoint, but it should be located at the border.
On StarNet: For lists of the candidates, their bios and more election news, go to azstarnet.com/elections
Contact reporter Becky Pallack at email@example.com or 573-4346. On Twitter @BeckyPallack.