Arizona should spend more money on education, job creation, health care and creating tax incentives for business, opponents in the Democratic primary for the state Senate seat in Legislative District 3 agreed in a Tuesday night debate.
While they share a vision for where the state’s $379 million budget surplus should go, Democrats Maria Garcia and Olivia Cajero Bedford had different takes on gun control in the wake of the Colorado theater shootings, and on the extension of a 1-cent state sales tax that is set to expire next year.
Garcia is the widow of the late state Sen. Jorge Luis Garcia, and was appointed to complete the last few months of his term after he died in 2010.
Cajero Bedford is a longtime legislative incumbent running in a reconfigured district. The winner of the Aug. 28 primary will claim the seat; no Republican or other candidate has filed to run in the Nov. 6 general election.
We all have a right to bear arms as U.S. citizens, Garcia said. Most cases of public shootings, such as in Colorado and in Tucson on Jan. 8, 2011, have involved mentally ill people.
The real question is where is the funding to treat the mentally ill, who have been thrown out on the street, she argued.
Cajero Bedford said there should be more gun control and more reasonable laws, instead of the bad bills she said were previously in the Legislature. The public doesn’t want more guns, she said. It’s the large number of gun owners who make such a big fight for their rights, she said.
An initiative to extend the 1-cent sales tax, with a requirement that most of the money go for education, is embroiled in a court battle after Secretary of State Ken Bennett disqualified the initiative petitions, saying they weren’t filed properly.
Cajero Bedford said she was unsure the money would make it directly to the classrooms.
“The state general fund should be supporting education,” she said.
Cajero Bedford said she has worked hard over the 10 years she’s served in the state House and Senate, gotten a lot of respect and has a good relationships.
If elected to another term, Cajero Bedford said her first bill would fund cancer research in the state in a way that draws outside support and money.
“I have the experience. … I’ve seen the issues that people face and I feel that I have the knowledge to work with the people and understand what is going on in the community,” Cajero Bedford said.
“Experience isn’t everything,” said Garcia. “You need to get new blood in there and new ideas on the table. I have the passion. I understand the needs of the people. It’s a matter of working hard and representing everyone,” she said.
Garcia said she would begin with job creation and incentives for businesses to stay in Arizona and hire and train more people.