Who is Ron Barber and what are his positions?by Denise Early on May. 22, 2012, under Health
After watching the first debate between Jesse Kelly and Ron Barber (and the guy with the very strong Massachusetts accent), I had lots of questions about Barber. I already know more than enough about Jesse Kelly from 2010 – and I’m not falling for his Mr. Moderate act in 2012.
Ron Barber’s performance in the first debate was okay but not great, and I wasn’t thrilled with his rather vague statements about where he stands on the Affordable Care Act. So, wanting to know who Ron Barber is and what he stands for, I attended last night’s Eastside Democrats meeting where he addressed about 50 people.
Ron Barber talked about having lived in Tucson since 1959. He talked about his work with the Arizona Division of Developmental Disabilities where he created new programs to help people and save government money at the same time. From the description of his work, Barber wasn’t a paper-shuffling bureaucrat, but an innovator who solved problems and made government better.
Barber talked a bit about the small business he and his wife ran, but more interesting to me were his five years as Gabby Giffords’ district director. This job involved working with people all across southern Arizona and really understanding issues like border security, veterans’ issues, job creation challenges, and what it takes to make southern Arizona the solar capital of the United States. He clearly has the kind of experience and knowledge to make a difference for his constituents.
Barber talked about his positions on a long list of issues with clarity and conviction. He talked about the need for border security, but also comprehensive immigration reform. He said his first bill in Congress will address mental health issues and services for veterans who live outside urban areas like Tucson. He said veterans in rural areas need access to mental health services, and he has a plan to make this happen.
I asked Barber about his position on the Affordable Care Act and, to my surprise, he actually knew what was in it. He talked at length about the good things in the bill and a bit about what needs to be changed. He still would not say if he would have voted for the bill, stating that he wasn’t in Congress at the time.
When I left the meeting, I had a very positive impression of Ron Barber. He is very sharp and well-spoken. He knows his stuff. He knows the district. He may not be an attack dog in a debate, but he has worked on issues that affect people across southern Arizona. In comparing himself to Jesse Kelly, he said, “there’s a difference between wanting to do something and knowing how to do it”.
Ron Barber said he believes government has a role to play in helping people and protecting people. He also said he believes health care is not a privilege (the position of Jesse Kelly). Ron Barber believes health care is a right.
After listening to Ron Barber speak, I know he is not just a stand-in for Gabby Giffords. And while he might be a bit more moderate than I am on some issues, I think he will make an excellent Congressman.