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Lake Havasu City, state Legislature, U.S. Senate candidates make their pitch at forum

July 24, 2018

Candidates for every major seat in next month’s primary elections made their case to Lake Havasu City voters in front of a sweltering, standing-room-only crowd at Grace Arts Live theater Monday evening.

The candidate forum was sponsored by the Today’s News-Herald and Radio Central and moderated by News-Herald Editor Brandon Bowers.

Candidates mostly stuck to the script in the short-answer format, most using their 90-second time limits to highlight some of their western Arizona credentials and campaign goals.

Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Kelli Ward, a Havasu resident, got a warm reception from the hometown crowd. Ward, who served as a state senator representing the region, is running in a crowded Republican field that includes former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and U.S. Rep. Martha McSally.

“Arizona’s only had 12 senators in our entire history, and I want to be lucky 13,” Ward said. “I don’t just want to be your next senator, I want to be you in Washington, D.C.”

Her counterpart, Democratic hopeful Deedra Aboud, was one of the few candidates who lives outside of western Arizona to make the trip. Aboud, who is running against U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema in the primaries, made sure to note that all of Arizona needs representation, not just Phoenix.

“We want to raise the expectation for this office,” Aboud said. “It’s about actually getting out and talking to the people, having town halls, visiting all 15 counties. We live in the state of Arizona, not the state of Maricopa.”

The candidates broached how the Senate can help fix some of the issues with veterans’ care in the state.

Ward, a medical doctor by trade who is married to a retired military veteran, offered that veterans should be able to get care locally.

“If I had my magic wand, I would say all of our veterans should be able to get their care at home, not having to travel to the Veterans Administration,” Ward said.

Aboud, who comes from a military family, agreed that giving outside care to veterans could help clear red tape issues, and also proffered the military should be using its money more wisely.

The conversation quickly turned to Arizona’s longest running political topic, illegal immigration and security along the 370-mile southern border with Mexico.

Ward, who is running on many of the same platforms as President Donald Trump, drew cheers as she touted the benefits of building a wall to help stem problems associated with illegal immigration. She also extended the ideas to end family migration and defunding sanctuary cities.

“We must utilize our technology to the fullest and empower our border patrol,” Ward said. “We will go a long way to making America great again.”

Aboud, an immigration attorney, has been against a border wall in the past and offered alternatives to address immigration abuses.

“We often focus on a lot of the big issues that get emotion around them,” Aboud said. “(Dreamers and family separation) are important issues, but what we don’t talk about are simple people getting married and wanting to go through the process and it’s not going through the process normally.”

State Sen. Sonny Borrelli appeared alone on the stage but gave some thoughts on how to fix education funding at the state level. He touted the increase in teacher pay this spring and said school districts need to do a better job of budgeting state money, especially those in Phoenix. He also suggested Arizona’s rural counties band together to prevent the water interests of Phoenix and Tucson from overtaking those of the local residents.

“It’s time we stick together and build coalitions with rural legislators,” Borrelli said. “We need to tell CAP they need to find their resources somewhere else.”

The issue of education funding was also an issue with the state education funding and how to get western Arizona more clout in Phoenix, though the focus was on legislative immunity and its abuses.

State Rep. Paul Mosley made his first public appearance since causing an uproar after being caught on camera telling a sheriff’s deputy that he often drove at extremely high speeds on the highway.

Every candidate was against the idea of using immunity to get out of criminal activity, with Mosley even offering to sponsor legislation that got rid of the immunity law.

County Board of Supervisors candidates Lois Wakamoto and Ron Gould both said tax money should be better allocated around the county, with Gould also stating that the meetings should return to a traveling schedule around the county to allow local voters a chance to attend meetings.

Wakamoto defended the investment in DOT Foods by touting the business and jobs the company has brought to the region, while Gould said he was staunchly against giving public money to billion-dollar corporations.

The constable candidates universally said that the office needs to do more to make sure the office is working at full capacity.

Havasu’s city council and mayoral candidates each offered ideas on how to continue the city’s growth beyond the Vision 20/20 plan, though with little policy details, and touched on how to deal with the city’s water and transient issues.

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