Question from Jonathan Paton: After you lost re-election in 2010, you gave staff and campaign aides $100,000 in staff bonuses. Why do you refuse to refund the taxpayers?
I strongly believe it's important to be responsible with taxpayer dollars. That's why I returned over $180,000 in office funds to the Treasury at the end of my term. It's also why I introduced a bill calling for the first congressional pay cut since the Great Depression. And when Congress refused to pass that bill, I cut my own pay because I believe in leading by example.
My opponent has attacked me in TV ads and on the campaign trail by distorting the facts about how my office employees were compensated for their hard work. Our congressional district is larger than the state of Pennsylvania, so it had not one but four offices and many employees. And at the end of my term, Congress had one final condensed pay period, so those numbers reflected payments for the employees' accrued leave and hard work prior to that final period. I understand that my opponent is looking for ways to attack me - that's politics - but it's disappointing that he and his superPAC pals have dragged those employees into the mud.
Instead, we ought to be talking about the values and priorities of each candidate. I've lived and served in every corner of this district. I was born and raised in the White Mountains of Eastern Arizona, worked my way through college and law school here in Southern Arizona, and worked as a prosecutor, teacher and lawmaker in Northern Arizona. I know the people and understand the issues across our district's many communities.
My vision for CD1 is that of a diverse, sustainable economy not dependent on one sector. We have opportunities to create jobs in biotech and bioscience here in Southern Arizona. In the north, our district has the Grand Canyon - an environmental treasure that is also an economic driver and brings about 12,000 jobs and more than $700 million to our economy. And all across our district, we must strengthen our schools, community colleges and universities to prepare students to become the workforce of tomorrow.
The stakes are high, and not just on economic issues. My priorities also include protecting Medicare from becoming a voucher system and protecting Social Security from privatization; working to strengthen border security and establish a fair and sensible national immigration strategy; and ensuring women have the right to control their private medical decisions.
If you share these priorities, I humbly ask for your vote.
Ann Kirkpatrick is the Democratic candidate in District 1, which includes Marana, Oro Valley and SaddleBrooke.