The biggest challenge facing the federal government is to get spending and debt under control without eviscerating Social Security, Medicare and other safety nets.

For too long members of Congress have dodged difficult decisions or refused to listen to people with other views.

Based on Republican Jonathan Paton's history in the Arizona Legislature, we believe he will be accessible to all constituents - and won't shut the door the first time they disagree.

We also trust he will be willing to make hard, unpopular decisions that the budget crisis demands.

We don't favor change for its own sake, but in a race like District 1 where both major-party candidates are well-versed on the issues, sending a newcomer to Washington, D.C., is justified.

For those reasons, Paton is our choice to represent the district.

It's this last point about change that swings our endorsement to Paton instead of his Democratic opponent, Ann Kirkpatrick.

She served one term, from 2008 to 2010, when Democrats controlled both the House and Senate and yet devised no long-term plans to get spending under control.

That isn't to say we agree with all of Paton's positions, such as his pledge to Grover Norquist for no new taxes. He should re-evaluate that decision because a thoughtful politician doesn't say "no, never" to any possible solution.

However, we admire his record of bringing to light issues others would rather minimize or view as too complex. For example, we share his views that government must be more transparent and accountable. He championed exactly that in the Legislature when the state child-welfare agency failed to protect children from abuse.

He stood up for children with no political voice and created purposeful change. Thoughtful leadership always challenges the status quo to produce solutions.

Jonathan Paton is the best choice to represent the district and to help set federal spending priorities that reduce the debt and still protect the most vulnerable.

District 1 is huge, stretching from Oro Valley, north through Flagstaff to the Utah border and east to New Mexico. It includes the Navajo and Hopi reservations.