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First debate for all four 1st District candidates

FLAGSTAFF— In a debate that aired differences among candidates vying for the 1st Congressional District seat, similarities emerged on a massive financial plan, a guest worker program and gun ownership.

Republican Sydney Hay, Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick, Independent Brent Maupin and Libertarian Thane Eichenauer are vying for the seat held by embattled Congressman Rick Renzi.

Each told an audience gathered at Northern Arizona University on Wednesday night that they would not support a $700 billion financial industry bailout that cleared the Senate.

They also agreed that the economy depends on an immigrant labor force and said they would support a guest worker program as long as those workers followed the law.

On gun ownership, the candidates staunchly defended a citizen’s right to responsibly bear arms.

Fred Solop, a political science professor and pollster at NAU, said that the candidates had similar views on the core issues reflects their knowledge of the congressional district.

“It was interesting that the candidates actually moved beyond their parties to speak to the issues of the district,” he said.

The financial rescue package lets the government spend billions of dollars to buy bad mortgage-related securities and other devalued assets held by troubled financial institutions.

Maupin said the proposal that was gaining ground in the House would not address the problem within the industry.

“It’s a fix, it’s a bailout, but it’s not addressing why it happened and what we can do to prevent it,” he said.

Eichenauer said there is “no way, no how that I would ever vote for such an item.” He said he doesn’t believe taxpayers would be in favor of the bailout.

“They have their own bills to take care of, and they do not want to be taking care of the banks’ bills,” he said.

Kirkpatrick said she would support a plan that would limit executive pay and direct some of the money to homeowners who are facing foreclosure.

“We need to look at not a bailout, but a rescue package — something that helps American families and businesses,” she said.

Hay said the approval of the bailout plan would send a message Wall Street to encourage the industry to engage in risky behavior and violate its fiduciary responsibility to stockholders.

“There is no consequences if it doesn’t work and it fails,” she said. “You still get your golden parachute and you still end up letting the taxpayers foot the bill.”

The congressional district, larger than Pennsylvania at more than 58,000 square miles, extends from the Grand Canyon to the state’s highest peak north of Flagstaff, and includes the Navajo Nation, Sedona’s red rock country, and southeastern Arizona’s rugged deserts.

Three-term Congressman Renzi did not seek re-election to the seat. He has pleaded not guilty to charges that he engineered a swap of federally owned mining land to benefit himself and a former business partner.

Kirkpatrick, whose mother’s family is Republican and father’s family is Democrat, portrayed herself as a candidate who can gain support across party lines and would work to get permanent tax cuts for the middle class.

As an architect and engineer, Maupin said he would serve as a problem-solver in Congress, working to ensure accountability, limit influence from special interest groups and involve citizens in their government.

Hay, a mining industry lobbyist, said Congress has failed Americans on a number of issues, including border security. She said she would work to secure jobs for residents of the district, cut taxes and improve education.

Eichenauer, a Phoenix resident, said he stands for limiting the government’s involvement in Americans’ lives.

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