Eighth Congressional District candidates Republican Debbie Lesko and Democrat Hiral Tipirneni debate their goals and what they have to offer to the West Valley.
The debate began with each candidate’s view on how well Donald Trump has done as president. Lesko shares common ideologies with the president, including building a wall and ending some regulations that were passed by President Obama. Tipirneni supports universal healthcare and investing in improving infrastructure and transportation in the area.
“I think Donald Trump is following through with the promises he made to the American people and he was elected,” Lesko says. “He’s working to secure the border, he’s gotten rid of some burdensome regulations that really were draining our economy under President Obama, he cut taxes which boosted the economy, helped businesses and helped individuals keep more money in their pocket.”
On the other hand, Tipirneni is not a fan of the “only significant piece of legislation the Trump administration has passed, the tax bill.” The doctor says it was a tax cut for the rich, and it didn’t do anything for the middle and working class families. Lesko argues that she has talked to family-owned businesses in the West Valley, and they have said the tax cut has helped them.
Tipirneni says that as a 21 year resident of the area, she knows the issues of the people. “They’re concerned about public education being further eroded by the bill that Debbie put forth to expand vouchers,” Tipirneni says. “That takes money right out of public schools. They’re concerned about their retirement security space, specifically Medicare and Social Security… These are real issues, and I’m the one talking about them every day.”
Lesko argues that despite these points, Tipirneni doesn’t “fit for the values of our district.” She disagrees on the Democrat’s stance of Medicare for all, something that Lesko says is basically socialism.
On the question of whether to build a border wall, “I think we need to secure the border and part of that is building a physical wall where it makes sense,” Lesko says. “It’s what President Trump promised to the people that elected him. We need to follow through. Part of thing that I liked about the most recent budget is that it not only increased funding for the military and give a raise to our troops, but it also at least gave some money to build the wall.” In contrast, Tipirneni proposes spending the estimated $26 billion allotted for a border wall on stronger border security, education and infrastructure.
The candidates also discussed the future of DACA recipients. Lesko says nothing will be done if Democrats don’t agree to negotiate on a deal. She brings up the plan proposed by Trump that would give Dreamers legal status, claiming that the plan was ignored by Democrats.
“This is something that I feel a personal connection with,” Tipirneni says. “My parents came in the ’70s. I’m a first generation immigrant. The idea that these kids would be torn apart from their families and the only home they’ve ever known… It’s heartbreaking. I think those young people deserve a clean path. That means a clean Dream Act and an ability to that path of citizenship which President Trump agrees with.”
The special election will be held on April 24.