U.S. Rep. Martha McSally spent nearly an hour in Vail on Wednesday talking to Cienega High School students, mostly seniors about to graduate.

The two-term Republican, who represents Congressional District 2, spent most of the time answering questions from students ranging from what’s next regarding Syria to explaining why she doesn’t wear a Fitbit.

But McSally repeatedly found herself trying to differentiate herself from President Trump and legislation backed by the Republican-controlled Congress.

Here are three takeaways of McSally’s positions from the high school town hall:

Transgender bathrooms
are state, local issue

After being told transgendered students use a bathroom in the nurse’s office at the high school, McSally advised students to discuss the issue with school administration and state representatives.

“Did you engage the chain of command,” the retired Air Force colonel asked the student who posed the question. “Regardless of who you are and who you love, you should be given every opportunity in this country.”

She said she has fought for LGBTQ issues at the federal level, but said this fight was best decided locally, not by Congress.

Trump administration
was ‘tested’ by Assad

When a Cienega senior asked McSally about the missile strikes in Syria and told her he was entering the Air Force after graduation, McSally said she supported Trump’s decision to hit Syria. She said the Tomahawk missiles fired by the United States did not cripple the Syrian regime but told the students it sent a “message” to Syria President Bashar al-Assad.

McSally said Assad’s decision to use chemical weapons against the civilian population was a test of the new administration and that the whole world was watching how Trump would respond.

‘Privacy hound’ McSally
won’t use a Fitbit

McSally faulted media reports about Congress allowing internet service providers to the sell the browsing histories of their users, saying the recent rollback of FCC privacy rules isn’t the real issue.

She argues Congress needs to move forward on a commonsense approach that tells users in a simple fashion what information their internet providers, social-media sites and various devices are gathering and what those companies are making available to third parties.

McSally said she shuns so-called “free” services that collect private information about users, even going so far as to leave a small fitness device that tracks her activities — from steps to calories burned — at home. The device was given to her as a gift, she told the crowd.

Contact reporter Joe Ferguson at jferguson@tucson.com or 573-4197. On Twitter: @JoeFerguson


Reporter with the Arizona Daily Star. I cover politics as well as the city of Tucson and other municipalities in Southern Arizona.