Vote 2014: Democrats’ Congressional District Seven Debate

More from this show

Democratic candidates vying to be the next representative from Arizona’s Congressional District Seven will debate relevant, topical issues.

Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to this special Vote 2014 edition of Arizona Horizon. I'm Ted Simons. Tonight's show is a debate. We will hear from candidates competing in the Democratic primary for Congressional District Seven. As with all of Arizona Horizon's debates this is not a formal exercise. It's an open exchange of ideas. An opportunity for give and take between candidates for one of the state's most important offices. As such, interjections, even interruptions are allowed, provided that all sides get a fair shake. And we'll do our best to see that that happens. Congressional District Seven is an urban district, covering parts of Phoenix, Glendale, and other valley communities. It's a majority minority district, currently represented by Ed Pastor, who is retiring. The Democratic primary features four candidates. They are former Maricopa County supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, former state representative Ruben Gallego, former school board member, Phoenix school board member, Jarrett Maupin, and social studies teacher, Randy Camacho. Each candidate will have one minute for opening and closing statements. Earlier we drew numbers to see who goes first and that honor goes to Mary Rose Wilcox.

Mary Rose Wilcox: Thank you, Ted and good evening. Thank you for hosting us tonight. Ted I am running for Congress because I feel I'm the only one tough enough to do it. I've been standing up in the trenches for years. I have been fighting for immigrant rights, for the Gay community, for many, many people from seniors, to youth, I have been there fighting for them. I have delivered for them. And I'm tough enough to stand up to Sheriff Joe Arpaio. When he came after me because I dared to tell him no more racial profiling in my community, he indicted me, he teamed up with Andy Thomas, I cleared my name and Joe Arpaio has a federal monitor over him and Andy Thomas is disbarred. I'm tough enough to go to Congress, I'm tough enough to stand up to Arpaio, to the NRA, if I am fortunate enough and if the voters put their faith in me I will go to Congress and I will fight, I will use my experience and I will do a good job.

Ted Simons: All right. Thank you very much. For our next opening statement, we turn to Randy Camacho.

Randy Camacho: Good evening. My name is Randy Camacho, I'm a native Arizonan, and I was born and raised in Congressional District Seven. I'm a high school teacher, author, and a former congressional candidate, twice endorsed by the Arizona Republic, even over a sitting congressman. The reason I'm running is because I want to transform the office of Congress in Congressional District Seven. To be a coordinating force between state, local, and federal government, to create holistic policies regarding immigration, education, and economic development. Thank you for having me.

Ted Simons: All right. Thank you very much. For our next opening statement we turn to Jarrett Maupin.

Jarrett Maupin: Thank you for having us. I'm running for Congress because it's time for a change in District Seven. Joblessness is affecting the people of this district like never before. Veterans are in trouble, single mothers need help; immigration reform is stalled. And progress seems to be on hold. This is a majority, a Democratic district. And I think the people here are ready for a Congress person that will be a loud voice and an effective voice in Washington to pass legislation. This is what this job is about. It's not about any single issue. It's about electing a progressive congressman, a democrat. A strong democrat that can go to Washington and be effective. Not wedge issues, not personalities, but someone who's a work horse and can deliver for the people.

Ted Simons: All right. Thank you very much. For the final opening statement we turn to Ruben Gallego.

Ruben Gallego: Thank you. I'm running for the American dream. I was a very lucky man, I grew up poor, didn't have a bed till I got to college, I was in the free lunch program, because I had a good public education system, teachers that were respected and paid well, they would pick me up and take me to school on those hot and cold days. I was able to go to college, got accepted into Harvard, used Pell grants and student loans. All these things were there because I had a caring group and a caring organization that helped me accomplish this. I also saw the reverse side of that, when I went to Iraq as a marine. I saw us not having the proper equipment, lost some best friends in battle and then got back to a V.A. that was not ready for us then and is not ready for us now. That's why I'm going D.C. - I'm going there to fight for the American dream, to fight for our working families and for our veterans fighting right now. Thank you.

Ted Simons: All right, thank you very much. Let's get it started with immigration reform. Mary Rose, what needs to be done, and if the term comprehensive immigration reform comes up with anyone at this table, I'm going to ask what in the heck are you talking about there. Define that term.

Mary Rose Wilcox.: Well, it's a holistic program that once and for all fixes immigration. And immigration reform needs to happen now. What has happened for years is Congress has not passed it. We had two of our United States senators who put a very good build for it in the senate, it passed, and then the house stalled on it. And as a result, we have deportations, we have families who are being torn apart, we have people who are in the shadows, living the American dream is one thing everybody wants to do. They're working, they're paying taxes, many homes have undocumented person for wife, a worker who is legalized for a husband, kids who are American citizens and dreamers. We must fix this. Tomorrow Luis Gutierrez, who is the immigration champion, is coming in to support me, but also to share with the community in a community rally, what is immigration look like, and how are we going to get it this year? He's going to share the strategies that Congress is going to put forth.

Ted Simons: As far as what you want to see, Randy, what do you want to see regarding immigration reform?

Randy Camacho: Well, I want to see state action, you know, first. Because we don't have the stomach for immigration reform on the federal level. Which is why I'm proposing ARIA, Arizona Residency for Immigrants Act, which would make undocumented immigrants state residents. So in that regard, we would have driver's licenses for I.D., and for driving, in-state tuition for our dreamers, we would also have people coming out of the shadows in our communities as a result, and not being afraid to report job site abuses and so forth. We need to do something on the state level as well. And that's why ARIA is something that's very important to help us usher in immigration reform when it comes on the federal level.

Ted Simons: Jarrett, what do you want to see as far as immigration reform?

Jarrett Maupin: I want to see families made whole. I want to see children made safe. I want to see students given all the opportunities that they deserve. There's a lot of demonizing that goes on of immigrants and that must stop. That's why we have to send people to Congress that aren't going to be afraid to fight for the kind of reform that we need. You know we've been talking for years about it, and I think it's time to be honest. It hasn't passed in the past session; we don't know what's going to happen in the next session. But what we do know is that the people of this district can send someone who can champion that into the body and press forward, much like the Civil Rights Act any other piece of landmark legislation.

Ruben Gallego: I think the most important thing that we have to recognize though is comprehensive immigration reform is not going to happen, and the president needs to step up and give deferred action to our mothers and fathers and people that are here in this country at this point that are undocumented and don't have any serious criminal history. We have seen good results from that, our dreamers that have gotten their DACA, through the deferred action program, have been succeeding. We need to move on the conversation of reform is not going to pass, the Republicans are not going to let it pass. The president should order executive order and let -- Stop separating these families.

Ted Simons: With that in mind, what limits should be placed on immigration? And what should the penalties be for violating immigration laws?

Ruben Gallego: Well this is something that we're going to have to talk about for hours. But in terms of limitations, what we first have to deal with is the backlog of people that are in this country right now that are undocumented. Let's get them right with the law, let's get them their status, so that way we do not separate them anymore from their families, and at the same time then we can start building again towards the momentum, bringing Congress immigration reform, cause it's not happening, and people are getting unnecessarily deported right now.

Jarrett Maupin: Ted, piecemeal immigration reform is an insult to human beings. We need to solve all not a Band-Aid. So we have to look at assessing a fee, we have to look at people that are already here. But our entire immigration system is broken. It's much about domestic immigration policy as it is foreign policy.

Ted Simons: But when you fix that immigration policy, again what limits do you put on the policy and how do you enforce those limits?

Mary Rose Wilcox: Ted, the immigration policy we that we adopt and the senate is good model for it, it's not the best bill, but it's a good bill, we have a lot of things in it that would give H2 programs, worker programs, America needs people who want to work. We have a shortage of workers, particularly in the service and the agricultural areas, and you're in Arizona, you know that we have an ebb and flow across the border. 9-11 happened, it stopped. So the programs that we're going to adopt will give temporary worker status to people who want to come in for the seasonal work, and that will help a lot. People will be stuck here, they won't have to have a border that's close and they can't get back home.

Ted Simons: Again, Please Randy.

Randy Camacho: ARIA does that. Arizona Residency for Immigrants Act does that on the state level. And that's what I'm talking about. That we can't wait for change to happen in Washington, DC. We keep hearing my colleagues talking about going to Washington, D.C. and fighting for immigration reform. Well all they're going to do is wait when they get there. And all they're going to do is add to the continued gridlock when we talk about fighting, that's what's going to happen.

Jarrett Maupin: I don't think we're gonna wait, I think people--

Randy Camacho: But what I'm saying -

Jarrett Maupin: I think people are going to raise hell in D.C. until we pass comprehensive immigration reform. What you're proposing is a partnership with our legislature, which is completely controlled by right-wing kooks.

Randy Camacho: No, absolutely not. We're talking about an initiative. And that's what I would spearhead as a congressman. And I would use all my resources you know available to me to spearhead this initiative to put this on the ballot, because time and time again, polls will show, even among SB 1070 supporters, that they support comprehensive immigration reform. There's no reason why they won't support ARIA.

Ted Simons: Right now, one choice you would have back in Washington would be to look at the president's funding request for $3.7 billion which also includes expediting the deportation of some of these kids coming in from central America. Your thoughts on the President's plan?

Ruben Gallego: I disagree with the President's plan. If it continues to include expedited process. These kids are refugees. We need to treat it like a refugee crisis. We need to treat them in a humanitarian manner, and treat them with due process that's it's already been established from 10 years ago. There's no reason why we need to speed this up. If that is stripped off, then yes I'll support it, because we do need to have some more humanitarian goods down there to help them out. But in the meantime, if it's expedited process I will not support that.

Ted Simons: What do you think?

Mary Rose Wilcox: Ted, it is a good plan in the sense that it puts money, and we do need a more administrative law judges. The administrative immigration judges are very shorthanded right now. If we do not get that money and can put more of them on, there's so many children that we can't deal with at the -- The immigration law judges could look and see if they're refugees, if they can be hooked up with their families here. So we do need to bring on more. Matt Salmon's plan is a very bad one because he wants border agents to be able to act as judge and that is just terrible. So the President's plan is a good one, but we cannot have deportations occur. They must look at it and they must look at the refugee status, and also hooking them up with their families.

Ruben Gallego: I'd like to point out if you're actually funding an expedited process there are going to be more deportations and that's a very volatile situation we're dealing in Central America. There are so many people right now that are in total danger for us to actually send them back, if we're going to do an expedited process like you're recommending Mary Rose, people, children are going to be deported. I don't trust these administrative judges. I don't believe that they're going to be looking at the full-fledged danger a lot of these families are in. So that is not a very safe thing for us to do, these are kids.

Jarrett Maupin: I think due process is something that is constitutionally guaranteed. And if you believe in the constitution, it should be extended to anyone who's in the United States regardless of their circumstances.

Ted Simons: If that due process, even if it takes years?

Jarrett Maupin: Even if it takes years. Look we have to determine if there are real threats against people's lives. If there aren't, then perhaps down the road deportation is in order.

Ted Simons: Randy, what would you say to the protestors down in Oracle and the ones over in California who are yet-- What would you tell them? They have a very strong feeling about this. What would you say?

Randy Camacho: I would say that we need to make due process happen. That these children are entitled to due process. And I do favor the $3.7 billion dollars, I think it's a good idea in the sense that what you've got here is a moral dilemma, with moral implications no matter which way you go. And we need to strike a balance with this issue, and the $3.7 billion goes a long ways in doing that. Now, it's estimated the 40 to 60% of the families, or the children applying for refugee status will -- or Asylum will qualify. But then again, you've got people as you say going back as a result that won't qualify, which is why I said before I favor the $254 million that President Obama is allocated to Central America as a humanitarian aid.

Mary Rose Wilcox: Ted let me just clarify. I do not want to deport any child. But I do want to put on more administrative law judges so they can deal with the large amount of numbers. These children must be adjudicated. Most of them will fall into the category of refugee or linking them up with families. But the bottom line is immigration reform. If we had immigration reform, this wouldn't be happening.

Jarrett Maupin: That's not true.

Mary Rose Wilcox: And that is --

Jarrett Maupin: They're two separate issues. Comprehensive immigration reform and the crisis in Central America. Look, we have stalled, the Republicans have stalled comprehensive immigration reform, and they have screwed up our foreign policy. We have to address these issues separately.

Mary Rose Wilcox: I don't agree. I really think that comprehensive immigration reform, if it had passed, this problem could have been handled a lot better. We are the United States of America. We are a wonderful country. We must take leadership and help our hemisphere, help Central America. But we must do immigration reform.

Ted Simons: Two separate issues?

Ruben Gallego: Two separate issues. These are refugees. It's a humanitarian crisis. Treat us such as that. Immigration reform has to be separate, and immigration reform is not going to happen. The President should act and do an executive order right away.

Randy Camacho: Poverty is a humanitarian problem throughout Latin America. And as long as poverty exists, we're going to have a border that's just more than concrete still and an unforgiving desert. We have an economic border and we have to do our part to make sure that we shore up the economies around Latin America using our entrepreneurial spirit. To raise the quality of life of folks so that they won't you know risk their lives coming to America.

Ted Simons: Marshall plan for Central and South America another something along those lines. What would you say to those protestors down in Oracle and those in Murietta, California?

Ruben Gallego: Have a heart. This is not the first time we've dealt with refugees in this country. We've been accepting refugees now for almost 100 years. Let's go -- Allow the process to go through. Allow these children to have safe haven. There is nothing dangerous about these children. We have an opportunity to basically show the world that we're a caring country, and when we have protestors like that trying to stop children from having a safe place, you're really making a bad mark on the United States.

Mary Rose Wilcox: Ted, I would tell them shame on you. We are the United States of America. If this is happening in a foreign country, not related to the United States, we would be sending the Red Cross and we would be sending aid. These are children. They must be dealt with separately, and we must adjudicate them. These people who are protesting, look at sheriff Babeu. What did he do? He led out information just to get publicity. That is horrible. We don't need that.

Jarrett Maupin: I would tell them to be slow to anger and quick to love. I think it was the St. Louis, a ship that had some Jewish refugees that had managed to reach the United States trying to flee what in essence became the Holocaust. We have to be careful, we have to give folks due process, welcome them and make sure they're safe.

Ted Simons: Can we afford to do that?

Jarrett Maupin: Of course we can.

Ted Simons: Economically we can afford to do that?

Jarrett Maupin: Of course we can.

Ted Simons: Can we afford to do that?

Randy Camacho: Yes. We have to - Again, I have to say that when it comes to the protesters, it's very troubling, because -- But this goes back to my ARIA point of view. In that the frustration, these folks, these extremists are tapping into their frustration of Arizonans over federal inaction. ARIA is a way to counter that, and that's how I plan to do it.

Ted Simons: With comprehensive immigration reform, or even piecemeal immigration reform, any immigration reform, you know that a lot of people say, we can't afford to be spending our resources on folks who are coming here unauthorized. How do you respond?

Mary Rose Wilcox: If you had comprehensive immigration reform, the people would be authorized. We've talked before, the economy of the United States needs foreign workers. And we need sometimes seasonal, particularly here in Arizona, we know the produce, we know agriculture, we know service, I was at the tourism bureau yesterday making a presentation, that's their number one issue. Immigration reform. We do need people who will be able to come back and forth in a seasonal way so we can afford it. And these people who are here, they're not welfare, they are working. They're paying taxes right now and they're living in the shadows.

Ruben Gallego: Ted, you know this idea that somehow they're going to cost the government is just, it's sad. You know I'm the son of immigrants, I'm the first generation born here. And I know my family members contributed to this economy. They started businesses; they have actually sent you know family members to serve in the military like I have. So this idea that you know our undocumented are not net contributors to this country is really sad, because they've not only contributed in terms of their tax dollars, when they pay their taxes every day, when they buy anything, but they also have contributed some of their kids to these wars. And that's ridiculous that we're trying to demonize all of them.

Jarrett Maupin: You know my wife is an immigrant from Chihuahua, Mexico. They are productive members of our society. They're human beings, with inherent worth and dignity. But we have to be careful with immigration reform. It's not just about farm workers which need fair pay and health care benefits. We cannot deliver people into second class citizenship. That's why we must have comprehensive immigration reform, a living wage, access to health care, access to education, all or nothing. This is -- America is not a land of first and second class.

Randy Camacho: ARIA does that.

Ted Simons: Let's see if ARIA addresses the idea of economic growth in district seven, that is a major factor in this race and it's something you can affect back in Congress to a certain degree. What do you do?

Randy Camacho: Well, if you're talking ARIA, we're talking dreamers being able to go to college, making it more accessible, more affordable to add to the work force that we need. To usher in the new economy that's coming. More technology, more investment in our infrastructure. And more investment in research and development. And we need to work on our freeways. South mountain freeway should be completed. And we do need to work on our airport as well.

Ted Simons: Economic Development for the congressional district. What do you see - what needs to be done?

Mary Rose Wilcox: We need to pass a transportation bill in Congress. The infrastructure of America's crumbling. We need to pass transportation, we need to build the I-11 from Nogales to Canada. We need to widen the I-10. We need to fix our bridges, fix our earth and dams, get light rail in south and west Phoenix, and that only does one thing -- It gives jobs to the working men and women of our district. That will be tremendous. I've done so many economic projects from building the D-backs stadium and putting 1,700 people to work, to building the Maricopa County courthouse, putting about another 2,000 people -- These are good-paying jobs. And when you build infrastructure and you can bring in transportation money, you get good jobs.

Ted Simons: What do you do for the economy of that district?

Ruben Gallego: Well like everything else, and everyone said here, invest in infrastructure, light rail to south Phoenix, invest in the airport. But also we need to start creating the new economy of Arizona. The new economy has to be based also on technology and knowledge. So we need to get more research grants into our biotech, into our TGENT down here in downtown Phoenix, all in district seven, and then we also have to start creating Arizona to be the energy corridor of this whole country. We're going to have to start shifting this country from carbon-based energy to solar-based energy and district seven could be the headquarters of that for this whole country.

Ted Simons: How do you get the man and the woman on the street of congressional district seven to work?

Jarrett Maupin: You go after the big contracts for the highways, for the light rail, but you challenge the contractors once they get the money, once the money is in their hand, as the Congress person, you challenge them to hire people from that area. The problem is, we have a lot of great projects, but you know on the south side they called the light rail the white rail. Because that's all that they saw. It's important for us to -- As leaders, make sure that we're hiring people from the area on these jobs. And it takes someone with a passion for civil rights to do that. I'm not convinced my opponents are going to advocate for folks on the ground. In fact they haven't. She built the ballpark, but the Coffelt project still has swamp coolers. He was involved at the legislature, when we passed a road improvements, but don't see minorities working on the roads in south Phoenix. I don't know where Mr. Camacho has been. We need an advocate for jobs someone that's going to say you will --

Ruben Gallego: He's been in the trenches teaching our children.

Jarrett Maupin: You will hire people of color and poor whites from the inner cities.

Ted Simons: People of color not getting these jobs Mary Rose?

Mary Rose Wilcox: No, that's absolutely false. We built the stadium, 1,700 people got jobs. And I was the third vote in that stadium, you know what I put in the line, I even got shot for that stadium, because somebody did not like it. But you know what, I'd do it all over again. Because my vote was contingent on people from the area getting jobs. You saw people of all color working, 383, the labor union had immense amount of jobs. The stadium was built 85% union jobs, and local.

Jarrett Maupin: And it's a black hole for tax money. They're not paying their fair share --

Mary Rose Wilcox: Oh Jarrett, that's not true.

Ted Simons: Let's get back to this idea of people of color not getting some of these jobs.

Ruben Gallego: You know, actually we need to be doing a better job. I'll give Jarrett credit, I mean this is not something that we're not doing as good as a job and we as elected officials should continue to do that and we should hold accountable the road crews, anything that's really government funded. And the airport. The airport contracts need to go to deserving -- Under deserving minority businesses that actually are truly trying to get their foot in the door and not just being well politically connected.

Ted Simons: I want yes or no's cause that's all we got time for, raising the minimum wage?

Mary Rose Wilcox: Yes.

Ted Simons: Even if it costs jobs?

Mary Rose Wilcox: I don't think it will cost jobs. And I've always paid my workers far above the minimum wage.

Ted Simons: Yes or no?

Ruben Gallego: No proof has ever shown that like raising minimum wage will actually create a job loss. So of course I do support raising minimum wage.

Ted Simons: Randy?

Randy Camacho: I support raising the minimum wage.

Ted Simons: Do you believe it costs jobs?

Randy Camacho: No, I don't.

Ted Simons: What do you think Jarrett?

Jarrett Maupin: Raise it because it's right and it's just. It won't cost jobs; it will increase prosperity and build up our middle class.

Ted Simons: All right. Each candidate will now give a one-minute closing statement. And going in reverse order of the opening remarks, we start with Ruben Gallego.

Ruben Gallego: Thank you. As you've heard from everyone here, we're all very interested in our district, and Arizona. But I'm truly interested in our working class families and our veterans. It's something true to my heart. Growing up poor in a single-family home, I saw how hard my mom struggled to raise us. And she did a great job. She sent all four of us to college. Something that you know very few people can do. But I want to make sure other Americans have the same opportunity that I had. To start poor and end up being you know a contender to run for Congress, or like my sister who is now in medical school. This is the American dream. But it's starting to basically be deteriorated. I need to go to D.C. to continue to fight for our working families and to assure that the future of this country belongs to them. Thank you.

Ted Simons: All right. Thank you very much. And for our next closing statement we turn to Jarrett Maupin.

Jarrett Maupin: I want to be your congressman because I understand what your needs are. People are jobless. They need jobs. People can't make ends meet with their bills every month. We lost more homes during the great recession than any other of the top 30 cities of the metropolitan areas in America. We need better schools, we need big federal contracts to put people with the education of yesterday with the jobs of yesterday. Not everyone is ready for the jobs of tomorrow because we failed them. I want our government to step in, build up our middle class, pass comprehensive immigration reform, women need equal pay, single mothers need all-day kindergarten, and fully funded head starts are closing, they're running out of money. It's hard times in district seven. We're the poorest but we have the most potential. I want to see factories in Maryvale, factories in south Phoenix, I want to see us working and growing. We have the potential, the energy, the resources, it's our time.

Ted Simons: All right. Thank you very much. Randy Camacho, next with our closing statement.

Randy Camacho: My fellow Arizonans thank you for tuning in and for allowing me to speak to you this evening about the issues. And I hope that you took into account many of the things that I said today regarding ARIA, Arizona Residency for Immigrants Act, which is definitely a solution here in Arizona while we wait for immigration reform to come on the national level. I'm a high school teacher. I've taught thousands of students in my time. I've taught over 20 years. And in doing so, I'm asking you to -- For your support to send me to Washington, D.C. to represent you in Washington and in Arizona. And so that we can usher in solutions, pragmatic solutions for education, immigration, and economic development. Remember, Randy Camacho from the roots up.

Ted Simons: All right. And for our final closing statement, we turn to Mary Rose Wilcox.

Mary Rose Wilcox: Thank you, Ted. I want to go to Congress and I would love to represent district seven because I'm tough enough to do it. I've taken on Sherriff Joe Arpaio, I have taken on the NRA, I have fought in the trenches for people all of my life. I have a great amount of experience I've delivered on projects, and I have been tough. My opponents all very worthy men, but we differ. Ruben Gallego has a B+ rating from the NRA. Might as well be a Republican, that's what John McCain has. He also has brought a gun to work. I would never do that. We have a community that can be very violent, and we must be antigun and take guns off the street. And I have done that in the past. I will go to Congress, I will fight for immigration reform, I will fight for affordable health care and I will fight against the NRA. Send me to Congress and I will do the job.

Ted Simons: All right. Thank you very much. Thank you candidates, and thank you for watching this special vote 2014 debate. Featuring the Democratic candidates for congressional district seven. Arizona Horizon's next debate will be Monday, July 21st, when we hear from the Republican candidates running for Governor in this special one-hour program. That it is for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening.

>>Arizona Horizon is made possible by contributions from the friends of Eight. Members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

Illustration of columns of a capitol building with text reading: Arizona PBS AZ Votes 2024

Arizona PBS presents candidate debates

Earth Day Challenge graphic with the Arizona PBS logo and an illustration of the earth

Help us meet the Earth Day Challenge!

Graphic for the AZPBS kids LEARN! Writing Contest with a child sitting in a chair writing on a table and text reading: The Ultimate Field Trip
May 12

Submit your entry for the 2024 Writing Contest

The Capital building with text reading: Circle on Circle: Robert Lowell's D.C.
May 2

An evening with ‘Poetry in America’

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters

STAY in touch

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters: