Audience of 300 Gets Better Picture of Hopefuls

Posted on August 21, 2002 | Type: In the News
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Those who attended a candidates' debate in Tucson last night said the event was invaluable for voters as they try to decide who should be Arizona's next governor.

"It's important to hear from their mouths how they feel, their views and how well they can relate to the questions and how much they know about the issues," said Jane Rhee, 20, a Tucsonan who studies government at Harvard University.

"The interplay between political parties was very interesting. I've never seen so many viewpoints expressed all at once."

About 300 people attended the debate at the Marriott University Park hotel, 800 E. Second St.

The event, sponsored by the Goldwater Institute and the Tucson Citizen, was the only forum in the state to include all 10 candidates for governor.

Melissa Poole and Todd Schram, both 30, said they came to hear the candidates because this will be their first time voting for an Arizona governor and they had not decided on a candidate.

They didn't leave the debate with a decision made, but said they walked away with a greater understanding of where the interests of most candidates lie, and what they aim to do if elected.

"I like Mahoney. He sort of stirs the pot," said Poole, a speech pathologist, of Richard Mahoney, who is running as an independent. "He said he doesn't support AIMS. I would like to hear a more in-depth discussion of that."

Jerry Curley, 45, a Cholla High School teacher, said he thought the candidates did not talk enough about what they would do to help American Indians.

"The important thing to me is the person we elect needs to reach out to the native people of Arizona and work with them to better their financial situation, water rights and infrastructure," said Curley, who grew up on the Navajo Nation.

"It was the first time I heard many of the candidates. I thought (Alfredo) Gutierrez was candid in his remarks. Matt Salmon should go back and run for Congress. He seems out of touch with the people of Arizona."

Others said the event opened their eyes to candidates they hadn't known. "Carol Springer. I had never heard of her before and she knows Arizona finances and knows them well," said Pat Rigg, 67, a retired college professor.

Before the debate, Rigg favored Janet Napolitano as the next governor. James Door, 49, a security guard at Desert Diamond Casino, said he liked what Gutierrez had to say during the debate and he hoped the winning candidate would keep campaign promises.

"The candidates have got to be honest and do what they campaign for," he said.

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