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
Job creation and border security are two key issues I will champion for Southern Arizona.
Job creation: My vision for this district is that of a diversified, sustainable economy. My jobs platform includes:
1. Creating jobs in emerging technologies like biotech, wind and solar.
2. Creating jobs that educate our young people.
3. Creating jobs that build our infrastructure while protecting Arizona's unique natural resources.
Southern Arizona is an ideal place for emerging industries such as biotech, science, wind and solar. We must provide incentives for businesses to start up, relocate and manufacture here. Rebuilding a manufacturing base is an important part of strengthening our local economy.
Boosting the transportation corridor that runs through Southern Arizona is another way to strengthen this region. We should support small business development along Interstate 10 and the development of the proposed Interstate 11 highway. Working with local officials, chambers of commerce and community leaders, I will spearhead efforts to bring the necessary infrastructure and support to help this region grow.
I'm a proud Wildcat, so I know that higher education is a critical part of Southern Arizona's economy. When we invest in education, we're investing in jobs and a strong economy. That's why I support strengthening our schools with modern classrooms, smaller class sizes and the most qualified teachers in the world. I also want to make college more affordable so students can compete for the jobs of the future.
Border security and immigration: I was Arizona's only member of the Homeland Security Committee during the 111th Congress, so I know an unsecured border is a threat to our communities. I worked to put more boots on the ground and get local law enforcement more resources to combat drug trafficking. And I made sure Washington heard how serious Arizonans are about this.
We need a federal immigration strategy that secures our borders here in Southern Arizona while offering fair and sensible reforms. We need to crack down on the criminal cartels, but we also need to help farmers, ranchers and other industries facing labor shortages. I also support the Dream Act, which provides a fair and sensible process so we are not punishing those who were brought into this country as children and are working hard and playing by the rules.
Job creation and border security should not be partisan issues. I would be happy to take the lead in Arizona's delegation and support such efforts.
Kirkpatrick is the Democratic candidate in District 1, which includes Marana, Oro Valley and SaddleBrooke.