Congressional District 6 Democratic candidates debate immigration, inflation and more

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We feature a debate between the Democratic candidates for Congressional District 6. This debate is a joint effort between Arizona PBS and The Arizona Republic. Joining to moderate is Mary Jo Pitzl from The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com.

This is not a formal debate. It’s an open exchange of ideas, an opportunity for give and take between candidates.

The candidates are:

  • Kirsten Engel- Environmental attorney and state legislator
  • Daniel Hernandez- State representative, former school board president

Both candidates gave a 1-minute opening statement.

Daniel Hernandez: “As a first-generation college student, it was on the fifth day of my internship when a shooting happened in Tucson, Arizona. My life, and the life of so many Arizonans changed. I was working as an intern and provided first aid to Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. Afterwards, I followed her lead, and got into elected office, serving my community first as a member of the Sunnyside Unified School District governing board, and then, as a member of the Arizona State House.  I look forward to the conversation and thank you so much for having us.” 

Kirsten Engel: “We’re at a critical time. Arizonans are reeling from inflation, high gas prices, drought, wildfires, attacks on their voting rights, and now the very real prospect that we, as women, will lose the authority to control our own bodies, our own health care decisions. It doesn’t have to be this way. I have solutions I want to work on on these very issues with you in Congress.”

Topics the candidates touched on throughout the debate included immigration, inflation and climate change. They were asked if there is a crisis at the border, and what their solutions would be if so.

Engel advocated for reform of asylum-seeking processes for migrants.

Walls are a 13th C. solution to a 21st century problem. I mean, let’s look at what’s going on here. We have migrants coming in who want to make a home in our country. These people are like our ancestors coming here, and that’s the crisis. That’s a humanitarian crisis.”

Hernandez suggested ensuring a government presence at the border with increased technology use and training.

 “When you can get the Chamber of Commerce and leading civil rights organizations to agree that immigration reform is a top priority, this is no longer a partisan issue. What we need to do is solve this crisis by one, making sure people feel safe at the border, making sure we have an adequate presence of trained officers, making sure that we’re utilizing technologies like drones and sensors, because you don’t just need a wall. That’s not going to solve this problem.” 

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