Seven Candidates are competing in the Republican primary election for Arizona’s new Ninth Congressional District. Meet four of those candidates (Lisa Borowsky, Vernon Parker, Wendy Rogers and Martin Sepulveda) as they debate the issues tonight (Tuesday, July 31st) on Arizona Horizon. The other three candidates (Travis Grantham, Leah Campos Schandlbauer and Jeff Thompson) had their turn Monday, July 30th.
Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to this special Vote 2012 edition of "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Tonight's show is a debate. We'll hear from Republican candidates for the new 9th Congressional District. As with all "Arizona Horizon's" debates, this is not a formal exercise. It's an open exchange of ideas, an opportunity for give and take from candidates for one of the state's most important offices. As such, interjections and even interruptions are allowed, provided that all sides get a fair shake, and we will do our best to see that that happens. CD-9 is a new Congressional District located in Maricopa County. It includes Tempe, Ahwatukee and parts of Phoneix, Chandler, Mesa, Scottsdale and Paradise Valley. Seven candidates are competing in the CD-9 Republican primary. We heard from three candidates yesterday, and today we meet the remaining four. They are attorney Lisa Borowsky, a member of the Scottsdale City Council. Vernon Parker, a current Councilman and former mayor of Paradise Valley. Martin Sepulveda, a business owner and former member of the Chandler City Council. And Wendy Rogers, a small business owner and retired Air Force lieutenant colonel. Each candidate will have one minute for opening and closing statements. Earlier, we drew numbers to see who goes first and the honor goes to Lisa Borowsky.
Lisa Borowsky: Thank you very much, I'm Lisa Borowsky. I'm a native of the Valley. I've been a practicing attorney for a little over 17 years now. It sounds like a really long time when I say it out loud. I was elected to the Scottsdale City Council three and a half years ago. I got into that election because what I saw was overregulation by the City Council on businesses. And I've truly enjoyed representing the citizens of Scottsdale. It's been quite a joy. I've learned firsthand that government is inclined to grow if it's allowed to. I feel like my record demonstrates that I've been very, very strong in opposition to increasing taxes and government spending. I'm in this race because I believe government should stay out of business, and we should all be focused on lowering taxes.
Ted Simons: Thank you very much. Our next opening statement is from Martin Sepulveda.
Martin Sepulveda: Thanks for hosting this. I'm Martin Sepulveda. I'm running for Congress in district 9 because I live in the district, I was raised here. My family has been part of this community since the 1870s. I graduated from Arizona State University and met my wife there. I started my first business there and I was elected twice to the City Council. I enlisted in the Marine Corps when I was 17, and I've served in both Afghanistan and Iraq. My current assignment is with SEAL team 17 in Coronado. I've got about 25 years of experience in public and private sector development. I've created jobs, I know what works. I look forward to a nice discussion.
Ted Simons: Thank you very much. Our next opening statement comes from Wendy Rogers.
Wendy Rogers: It's a real honor to be a part of this forum. I'm Wendy Rogers, retired Air Force lieutenant colonel. I joined the Air Force in 1972, when it was not the popular thing to do. Many of you remember the downturn after the Vietnam War and how unpopular it was to be connected to the military, especially on college campuses. When I was commissioned in 1976, I was one of only 18 individuals from a campus with 60,000 students. If you recall, it was not an easy thing to do to walk across a college campus in a military uniform. I carry that legacy of service. I'm a fifth generation military officer. My father was before me, and my son after me. I will continue to serve this district.
Ted Simons: All right, thank you very much. Our final opening statement comes from Vernon Parker.
Vernon Parker: Thank you so much. My grandmother, she raised me and raised me in an area that was replete with drugs, gangs and violence. The famed rapper Snoop Dogg lived right around the corner, but she taught me the American dream, that you can be whatever you want to be. When I served as a special assistant to President George H.W. Bush in the White House, to her that was the American dream. When I was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. senate as an assistant secretary, to her that was the American dream. And when I served as the mayor of the great town of Paradise Valley, to her that was the American dream. And when I was accepted into Georgetown University's law school, at 75 years of age she cleaned houses to help get me through. To her, that was the American dream. I am running today to restore that American dream to make sure that my child and your children have that same American dream that they can be whatever they want to be, regardless of race, color, creed, whatever.
Ted Simons: All right. Thank you very much. Let's go ahead and get this started. I'm not going to ask why you want to run for this particular position and why you are running and why you think you would be the best. Actually I do want to ask that. Why you, not them?
Lisa Borowsky: I feel compelled to do this. The exercise of representing the citizens of Scottsdale has really taught me that it's tough to make those decisions to cut spending, to cut where programs aren't necessary, to make those necessary cuts. I feel like, you know, that is absolutely necessary in Washington right now. And you said in your opening this is a very critical race. In fact, I would go as far as to say it's one of the most critical in the country. I think Arizona, we really need to maintain this seat, especially, and move forward.
Ted Simons: Why should Republican voters vote for you as opposed to anyone else at this table?
Martin Sepulveda: Well, I think we all have our hearts in this race. I was born and raised here, my family has been for many years. I've been in construction and development for all of my professional career. On the flip side, I've been all over the world as military officer. I think when you go overseas and see how bad things can get, you can't wait to get home to see how good you could make it. So certainly, my time on Chandler's City Council was invaluable. We did some unique things in business development. We didn't create jobs, we facilitated jobs and engaged the private sector. We asked what they needed and tried to do most of that and got out of the way. So I think very common sense solutions to growing the economy, that's what I bring to the table.
Ted Simons: Wendy, why you and not them?
Wendy Rogers: I'm a leader, a pioneer, a trailblazer. I was one of the first women pilots in the United States Air Force at a time when very few women were even in the officer ranks. I've had the experience abroad, I've been overseas half of my 20-year career. I meet a payroll for 14 employees in the district. Every day I'm down in the weeds dealing with taxation, regulation, overbearing government. I can get things done when people say they can't be done. I have a proven track record of having done that. I am the strongest.
Ted Simons: Why you and not the others here?
Vernon Parker: It's very simple, it's called experience. I have served as a special assistant to the President of the United States. I've served as general counsel of a federal department. Working in Congress would not be a big deal. It would not be a big deal to say I am a member of Congress, because I have testified before Congress countless times. The one thing that that really sets me apart, when I served as mayor of Paradise Valley, I cut taxes. I cut spending by 30%. I cut our staff by 29%. When people told me get to your rainy day fund, use that, I said no, it is not raining. We have to make difficult decisions. I have a track record of making difficult decisions. The most important thing is my experience. I think I supersede everyone on the panel with experience.
Ted Simons: Ok, you talked about taxes, let's keep it at taxes. There have been a lot of antitax headlines over the past few years. That is a good thing? Would you sign such a pledge?
Vernon Parker: The biggest thing you have to realize about taxes is this. America has the highest corporate taxes in the world. America is taxing and taking. They are taxing and regulating. We are no longer competitive because we tax, tax, tax, and regulate to the hilt. You know, when you have the highest corporate income tax in the world, and when you have bureaucrats stifling business, all the jobs are leaving America, going to China, India, Canada, Mexico. We must do the right thing, bringing jobs back to America by cutting taxes and getting rid of regulations that stifle the growth of business. I'm sorry.
Ted Simons: That's all right. The Grover Norbert anti-tax pledge, would you sign it?
Wendy Rogers: I think it's a good thing. It starts the conversation to focus on the fact that the individual income tax rate is too high for a small business owner like me. It needs to go to a corporate income tax rate as the Ryan plan suggests. I am taxed at an individual rate, that crushes my capability to create more jobs than the 14 employees I hire right now and have on staff. It is not helping all boats rise. Taxation snuffs out small business owners like me. Most employees work for small businesses. 70% of America's employees work for small businesses.
Vernon Parker: And 90% of the small businesses and 90% of business in the state of Arizona is small business, I sympathize with you on that one, Wendy.
Ted Simons: Some would argue that such a pledge ends the conversation. Would you sign it?
Martin Sepulveda: No, I'm not going to sign it, but I think it's a good idea. I've balanced budgets and we've had cash reserves. For those who haven't had public office and the ability to do that, that might not be a bad thing to do. But certainly it's a good place to start. Again, we're not the highest tax rate in the world, we're close. 35% is still too high. It's not competitive, that's the bottom line.
Vernon Parker: Which one is the highest?
Martin Sepulveda: 35% is not the highest tax rate in the world. Bottom line, we're still not competitive.
Ted Simons: That's right. Antitax pledge, would you sign such a thing?
Lisa Borowsky: Not as I sit here today. I'm opposed to tax increases, of course, and I think my record demonstrates that I really have a strong push for that during my work on Scottsdale City Council. I think when people are campaigning, it's kind of one of those inside baseball questions: Would you sign this. It sounds good, it's gimmicky. I think signing something that says you won't raise taxes is one thing. But then what happens when you get the job and get inside? You don't know what's going to happen. In my opinion, and this is true I think at any level of government, you have to evaluate issues as they come before you. You have to investigate. To be closed-minded and short-cut the decision before it unfolds before you, I think you're getting into some trouble there. Restricting yourself.
Vernon Parker: Here's the problem, the problem is quite simple. America is losing jobs. Why? Because we are -- I mean, it's just not taxation, it is regulation.
Ted Simons: Stop right there, though. I'll turn the conversation back into that direction. Some would say it's lack of consumer demand as opposed to taxation and regulation. How does lack of consumer demand play into what you're talking about?
Vernon Parker: I really don't believe it's the lack of consumer demand. I really do believe jobs are fleeing America. We have issues with Social Security. We have issues with Medicare. We have issues because we do not have enough people paying into the tax base. Our jobs are leaving this country. They are leaving because of one reason -- two reasons. Taxation and regulation. If we are to be competitive again, we must get those things under control. In Mexico they are building -- Volkswagen is building a facility for $2 billion and they will produce 150,000 cars a year. Why? They said their infrastructure was perfect for the growth. We need to say in America --
Martin Sepulveda: I think the lack of consumer demand is base people don't have jobs. It goes back to growing the job base, growing the economy. There's a lot of smart people out there. Simpson, the Ryan plan, those are great programs, a great start. But they don't talk about growing the economy. Part of the way to do that is to lower the corporate tax rate, whether through research, tax credits, capital expenditures, credits for that, or just lower it. 35% is way too high. We need to lower it. Expand the job base and create that consumer demand.
Ted Simons: And the idea again that taxation and regulation is more of a factor on a business like yours than lack of demand.
Wendy Rogers: I do feel that, absolutely. I have to have so many insurance policies in place just to do business as a home inspection business. I have to have so many attorneys in place because of the risk being sued. And back to your question: Why is there a lack of consumer demand? I think there's a tentativeness on the part of all Americans, because of the malaise in the economy. I feel it and see it in my business every day. There is a lack of willingness to purchase, a lack of willingness to commit on the consumers' part, as well as the smart business owners' part. It's all interrelated.
Ted Simons: Hold on for just a second.
Lisa Borowsky: No, it's okay. On to much what's already been said, I think businesses that are here and thriving, the restrictions and just the hoops you have to jump through with the federal government to expand your business, for example, my family has owned the Arizona snowball and I'm sure you're familiar with the saga up there of trying to make snow. It's been going on for seven, Eight years. Millions of dollars in attorneys' fees, lost millions in the delay. And the Obama administration just, you know, indulges the liberal activists who want to stop progress at any level. Those are jobs that were lost, revenue to cities in our state. And just less regulation is really --
Martin Sepulveda: Probably the overarching issue, whether on the corporate side or the consumers, it's economic uncertainty. That's killing everything.
Vernon Parker: Absolutely. That was my point, investors will not invest when there is uncertainty. So in order to get stability we have to have a tax structure that is competitive, and we have to have a regulatory system that is not destructive.
Ted Simons: Let's keep it moving here. I want to talk about the idea of a reasonable limitation on owning weapons. Is there such a limitation?
Wendy Rogers: Aim strong proponent on the second amendment as written. I have my own CCW permit, I have my own weapon, as does each member of my family. I think that the constitution and the second amendment is as written, as it should be today, as it was when it was originally written.
Ted Simons: No limits on the rights to bear arms?
Wendy Rogers: No.
Ted Simons: No limit on the right to bear arms?
Lisa Borowsky: I would is a no. I think the criminals that we really want to keep weapons out of their hands, they easy access to them. Citizens of the United States should be entitled to bear arms.
Ted Simons: Assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, the whole nine yards, no limits?
Vernon Parker: The assault weapons are not the killers in our society, it's the people who shoot them. I really do believe that we must protect the Second Amendment rights of all American citizens.
Ted Simons: What do you think?
Martin Sepulveda: Absolutely. I would protect the Second Amendment to my dying breath, as corny as that sounds. The bottom line is bad people will do bad things. Let's talk about the financial industry. Let's get away from tragic things that happen with guns. If someone wants to do something bad, they will find their way around those laws and do bad things. I wouldn't advocate even going down that road, as far as saying this weapon is good, this weapon is not good.
Ted Simons: The idea of illegal immigration, would you support the Dream Act?
Vernon Parker: The first thing that you said was illegal immigration. The first word is illegal. We cannot pick and choose which law we will enforce in America. For example, if I said, I don't like stoplights, I'm just going to drive through them. Death and destruction will occur. The bottom line is this, that we have a process. And we cannot -- we cannot -- I'm trying find the right word here, Ted, I'm sorry.
Ted Simons: What I'm hearing is no, you would not support.
Vernon Parker: The bottom line is we cannot reward bad behavior. We have a lot of people who come to this country illegally and go through the process. And so we have to stand firm and say that we have to enforce the laws of this country and we cannot pick and choose which laws are good.
Ted Simons: Even picking and choosing people who came here as children?
Wendy Rogers: Agreed. I agree with Vernon, we cannot pick and choose what laws we enforce. How do we document when they really did come here? I think it's a specious approach, and I would also add that it's absolutely imperative to enforce the law you have. That means secure the border, and frame it as I do as a national security issue, in terms of the border. I have been on record as one who is concerned about two things with regard to the border. That is the possibility of the porousness of the border allowing a nuclear weapon to walk across. And the second concern I have is the Jihadists aligning with Mexican drug cartels.
Ted Simons: The idea of the Dream Act. Support or not support?
Lisa Borowsky: I do not support it. It's as has been said, to have a window for people to be here legally who have come here illegally, it's unrealistic. Three, four, years from now we'll still extending that window--would be my prediction. Why do we even have an immigration system? Why not just let everyone come here illegally? I would be against that. I think it's unrealistic to say that would be shut down at the end of that time period.
Ted Simons: Dream Act?
Martin Sepulveda: No, I don't support it. When President Obama was running for the presidency, he said in the first 90 days he would address immigration. He didn't do that. Now he's talking about the dream act, executive order 16 to 30 year-olds get an exemption. It's pandering. It's broken, we need to fix it. The Dream Act and others that come down the pike, they are just a Band-Aid applied to a gushing head wound, it's not going to work.
Vernon Parker: One more thing about the border: I've seen the death and destruction of what drugs can do. We never talk about securing the border because drugs come in to this country so rapidly. And America is the only country where when we defend our border that we are criticized for it.
Ted Simons: Last question here. Piggybacking on what you said, and what you've said, quickly now, what does a secure border look like? Define it.
Wendy Rogers: A border where we know who is coming across. We can interdict if necessary and we can control the flow.
Ted Simons: Is that is kind of a thing viable?
Martin Sepulveda: Absolutely. In Afghanistan and Iraq, both those spheres of war, we secured the border. We knew who was coming in and out and we did what we needed to do to those people.
Ted Simons: Can we realistically secure the border? What does that mean?
Lisa Borowsky: I think it's really difficult, to be completely candid, I think it's nonsense to hide. Where there's a will, there's a way, and there's a proven will. We have to do something, we need complete reform and enforcement.
Martin Sepulveda: It's not just a fence.
Vernon Parker: We have to try because I tell you, it's a national security risk, we see human trafficking, and we see drugs. We must do everything that we can to secure the border.
Ted Simons: And we must stop it right there. It's time now to give each candidate a one-minute closing statement. Going in reverse order of the opening statements, we start with Vernon Parker.
Vernon Parker: So the adage of the first shall be last and the last shall be first is taking place here. Thank you so much. This was a great dialogue and I really appreciate the opportunity to speak to the citizens in CD-9. I have an 18-year-old son and this is not the same country that I inherited. This is not the same country where my grandmother told me you can be whatever you want to be. We have a President and Congress that is destroying this country. And I am fighting today to help restore the American dream that. That sream is that you can be whoever you want to be, and as long as you work as hard as you would like to work. I've been endorsed by president George H.W. Bush, Jerry Collangelo, Hugh Hallman the mayor of Tempe, quite a few really good people. I'm asking you tonight for your endorsement. I would like to serve and help restore the faith in America. Thank you so much.
Ted Simons: Alright, thank you. And our next -- for our next closing statement, Wendy Rogers.
Wendy Rogers: It's an honor to be here tonight. I will represent you in CD-9. It'll be my chance to serve again as your Congresswoman. I made a promise to my father in February of this year as he lay passing away, that I would fight for this country as he did in World War II, as a fourth generation military officer, and I as a fifth generation. I meet a payroll every day, I'm proud of that. Where else other than in America could we see a legacy of service served by woman in this country. No one works harder than I do. I ask for your vote, I ask you to come to my website, Wendy Rogers.org, and help serve together. Thank you.
Ted Simons: Thank you very much. And for our next closing statement, Martin Sepulveda.
Martin Sepulveda: Thank you. It's been an honor to be here this evening. We can say this election business the economy but it's about people. How we come together as Americans, our family, friends and neighbors, and get past this crisis. The federal government has grown too big, too costly and too ineffective. There are a lot of choices in this election but this is where public record matters. Congress is no place for on-the-job training. Balancing budgets, lowering taxes, creating jobs, those aren't just sound bites for me, I've done those things. I believe that the two terms I've served on the Chandler City Council, 25 years of business development experience, and the over 30 years of military leadership I have learned are valuable in creating the type of congressional district and representation we need. I appreciate your time and I would ask for your support. Thank you.
Ted Simons: Thank you very much. For our final closing statement we go to Lisa Borowsky.
Lisa Borowsky: Thank you. Thank you for watching tonight and for listening to what we've had to say, I've had to say. I believe that we have an opportunity here. I should have mentioned I have a 7-year-old little girl in my opening so I wanted to make sure I included that in the closing, and her future really depends on how we move forward as a country. I think that it's just absolutely critical to get the country back to focus on, you know, what's important, on private business and private growth, private sector growth. I invite you to send your comments to me, my website is Borowsky for Congress.com. I'm also on Facebook, I would like to hear what you have to say. I'm in this race with a lot of nice people. I agree that experience definitely matters, and I have that. We've worked really hard to balance our budget and to rein in spending at the city of Scottsdale, and I'm proud of that record.
Ted Simons: We have to stop you right there. Thank you, candidate, and thank you for watching this special Vote 2012 debate for Arizona's new 9th congressional district. You heard from four of the Republicans in the race tonight, the other three debated last night on the show. You'll find video and a variety of other resources on our vote 2012 website, Azpbs.org/vote2012. That address again, Azpbs.org/vote2012. We'll be hosting more primary debates in the coming weeks here on "Arizona Horizon." On August 7th meet the Democrats running for Congress in District 9. On August 15th we'll host a debate with the Republican candidates for Arizona's 4th Congressional District. That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening.
In this segment:
Lisa Borowsky; Vernon Parker; Wendy Rogers; Martin Sepulveda;