Talk of the Town Hall
By Eric Newman
The Anthem Area Chamber of Commerce held a Legislative Town Hall on Aug. 14, featuring the Arizona State legislative candidates in District 1.
Incumbent Karen Fann (R), along with Jo Craycraft (D), Noel Campbell (R), Jodi Rooney (R), Jan Manolis (D) and Dr. Ed Gogek (D) took questions from Anthem-area citizens and press concerning their viewpoints on noteworthy political issues in Arizona. David Stringer (R) could not attend due to a previously scheduled event.
Moderator Sam Crump asked candidates if they supported continued efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare,” and what their solutions would be to make healthcare more affordable in Arizona.
Incumbent Karen Fann said she has not seen the results she hoped for when the bill was passed. “We cannot afford it. It was sold to us as if it would save us money and be affordable, but it’s not. I’m a small-business owner, and I can hardly afford the insurance of my 34 employees because my Blue Cross/Blue Shield price has gone up 600 percent,” she said.
Ed Gogek, a licensed physician, said that though the bill is not perfect, his patients have seen benefits. “I was running a private practice when Obamacare kicked in. I had a lot of patients who lost their insurance, and suddenly everyone had it. So, it was quite successful from my patients’ point of view. The ACA did save us money,” he said, adding “A lot of other countries actually take the burden off the companies to provide healthcare, which gives them a big advantage.”
Where every candidate agreed is in the benefit of the AHCCCS (Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System) program, a form of Medicaid. “I support AHCCCS as it is because the federal funding is going to stop eventually, and we’re going to have a battle royale about how we’re going to fund that. I wish I had an answer to tell you,” Campbell said.
Mexico/U.S. border wall
One of President Donald J. Trump’s campaign points was building a wall on the Mexico-U.S. border. Crump asked candidates what their thoughts were on a potential wall between Arizona and Mexico and what solutions they had to immigration issues.
Craycraft said the wall would not work, and the focus of the United States should be to help Mexico improve the quality of life of its citizens. “We need to make the Mexican situation better so that their life is better, and they don’t feel the need to come here, and when they do come here, it can be legal. I believe a wall is not going to work. I’ve heard it’s going to cost $18 million, and if it doesn’t work that’s $18 million that’s a waste,” she said.
Rooney advocated for the wall, saying border security is one of the most important issues facing the state today. “We have to have legal flow back and forth to be able to have people who can come work in our trades and our agriculture. We are facing a labor shortage, but having that secure border — we have to have it,” she said.
Crump asked what the candidates’ reactions were to the Red for Ed movement by Arizona teachers, as well as what needs to be done with teacher pay.
Opinions varied as to the effectiveness of the teacher walk-outs and what needs to be done moving forward to increase education in Arizona. Manolis said Red for Ed was a good starting point, but merely that.
“I feel like the teachers had a right to strike. They were in a crisis, and it was what they needed to do to be able to catch the attention of the governor and the citizens of Arizona to rightly earn a raise for what they were fighting for,” she said. “It definitely is not enough yet to sustain quality education.”
Among other topics discussed were whether teachers were against Prop 305, what Anthem needs to do to increase economic development and how they have made themselves accessible to the public.
Each of the candidates encouraged concerned citizens to reach out for more information on policies and how each person would contribute to local government.
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