Raúl Grijalva

Rigoberto H. Valencia

What Southern Arizona-specific issues will you champion in Congress?    

The Star invited Southern Arizona's congressional candidates to answer that question.

This is the second of three Sundays of guest commentaries by the congressional candidates. Find previous columns at www.azstarnet.com/opinion

It's too bad the economic "debate" has become so partisan, because there's no argument in the professional business community about what we need to do. Companies aren't expanding because consumers don't have enough money to spend, and that's happening because of the economic downturn.

Some conservatives have tried to pin the blame on education and social investments, as though middle-class families are spoiled with too much unneeded federal help.

How do we turn it around? Simple - we rebuild a stronger economy that works for everyone, not just the richest 2 percent. We invest in improved commerce with plans like my Border Infrastructure and Jobs Act, which hires an additional 500 Customs and Border Protection staff at ports of entry to speed up commercial traffic and increase security at the same time. Fantasies about seven-layer border fences are a waste of everyone's time. Getting serious about jobs and safety means putting resources where the traffic is, and that means border ports.

We also need to refocus in a big way on our public schools. No matter what else we do - economically, politically and socially - we're just spinning our wheels if we're not educating young people. The Restore the American Dream for the 99% Act, which I introduced earlier this session, creates a Neighborhood Heroes Corps to hire, rehire and prevent the layoffs of 300,000 teachers. It also funds school restoration and construction projects around the country to improve our educational infrastructure. Southern Arizona would see a lot of benefits very quickly if the conservative House majority moved on this bill.

We need to create jobs the right way - jobs that benefit us here at home instead of sending profits overseas. That's why we need to keep pushing for a full review of Rosemont Copper, the Resolution Copper project, and any other multinational corporate effort to get rich at taxpayer expense. When companies take American minerals out of the ground, sell them to the highest global bidder, send the profits to their overseas corporate headquarters, and leave the mining leftovers on public land for us to clean up, that's not building a sustainable economy.

We need to conserve what we have, and that's going to stay one of my top priorities as long as I represent Southern Arizona.

My big picture plan is simple: Reinvest in working families and help businesses expand by putting money back into the economy. It's that easy.

Grijalva, the incumbent, is the Democratic candidate in District 3, which includes the south and west sides of Tucson plus much of Southwestern Arizona.