Jobs, adult education and the state's immigration law were among the issues House Legislative District 2 candidates talked about at a recent debate at Pima Community College's East Campus.
The debate was sponsored by the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission and hosted by the college. It was moderated by PCC spokesman C.J. Karamargin.
Legislative District 2, which was redrawn in the redistricting process, stretches along 22nd Street from South Tucson to east of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and extends southward through most of Sahuarita and Green Valley to Nogales.
Republican John Christopher Ackerley and Democrats Andrea Dalessandro and Rosanna Gabaldón are running for two seats in the Nov. 6 election.
Here is what the candidates said about bringing jobs to Arizona, which has about an 8 percent unemployment rate, and what role the Legislature can play that is conducive to businesses coming to the state.
Dalessandro, 65, a retired certified public accountant and math teacher, said more incentives must be routed toward the film industry to attract them to Arizona because filmmakers are bypassing the state and heading to Texas and New Mexico.
She also said the state Department of Commerce needs to work with the Mexican government on commerce and trade issues, and work to solve the bottlenecks and long lines at the commercial ports, especially during the produce season.
Dalessandro said Texas is courting Mexico's produce industry to use its sophisticated ports of entry, and if this happens "it will have a detrimental effect to Nogales" and its warehouses and businesses. She said Santa Cruz County has an unemployment rate of about 18 percent.
Gabaldón, 51, a former Sahuarita councilwoman, said it is the federal government's responsibility to create new jobs, and the state needs to encourage economic development.
The Legislature can attract businesses to the state by offering tax incentives that will in turn help improve job creation, Gabaldón said.
Ackerley, 40, a high school physics teacher for Amphitheater Public Schools, said the vast majority of jobs are created by the private sector. He said areas of growth are in biotechnology, data centers and high technology manufacturing and services.
"The government's clear role is to provide labor," said Ackerley, adding that the Legislature must return funding to vocational and career programs through high school programs run through a special school district called JTED, or Joint Technological Education District.
When it came to adult education, and education in general, all three candidates supported more state funding for education because they see it as an investment, and it helps secure a strong, knowledgeable workforce.
When it comes to SB 1070, the state's immigration law, the candidates were reminded that Arizona has gained a great deal of national prominence over the law. A recent court ruling allowed the state to begin enforcing the law's "show your papers" provision.
Ackerley said local law enforcement must have a role in enforcing the law, a role that he supports. But he also recognizes the controversy has had an adverse affect on the tourist industry.
Ackerley also said the SB 1070 controversy has drawn attention to border security issues in the state. He said this may have prompted the change in the federal government's new command structure for agencies involved in border security in the Tucson Sector, which he also supports.
Dalessandro said Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik has said deputies customarily call federal authorities when they detain someone who is in the country illegally. However, she said she is against racial profiling, and "we have to be aware if there are abuses of the system."
Business leaders have said the law hurts the state's image, which does hurt business, Dalessandro said.
Gabaldón said she does not support SB 1070 because the federal government has the responsibility to enforce immigration law, and secure the border. SB 1070 has created "fear mongering and it is unfortunate," said Gabaldón, explaining that it has hurt the state's image across the nation.
On StarNet: Read up on the candidates, propositions and issues at azstarnet.com/elections
Contact reporter Carmen Duarte at 573-4104 or firstname.lastname@example.org