How three candidates are different—and alike—in a battle for Congress.
As the candidates walked into the room, the crowd chanted their names. Shouts of either, “Harry,” “David,” or “Nick,” accompanied each of the three candidates for House of Representatives, District 5, Tempe, Arizona, as they prepared for a debate in mid-October.
Incumbent Harry Mitchell, Democrat; David Schweikert, Republican; and Nick Coons, Libertarian, each waved and took their seats, along with the moderator, Robert Leger. Even though Leger and the candidates asked to the mostly over-40 audience members to restrain from clapping during the debate, applause frequently interrupted.
The main topics discussed were economy, taxes, immigration, border security, healthcare, and education. They all agreed that the most pressing issues are the economy and job creation.
Mitchell, the incumbent, called for tax cuts for small businesses, as well as reductions in estate, capital gains, and payroll taxes to stimulate the economy and create jobs.
Schweikert, who is running as a Republican, blasted a stimulus package approved by Congress earlier this year, saying it did not help his community despite $31 million that was spent locally. His solution is to provide incentives to small businesses and institute a flat tax on income.
Libertarian Coons said the government should not be trying to stimulate the economy. He said government interference only makes the situation worse.
Mitchell supported President Obama’s health care legislation, also approved by Congress earlier this year.
“The previous system could not be sustained,” he said.
Schweikert countered that the new health care reform bill, “will bring us down flat.”
A teacher by profession, Mitchell said that there should be more emphasis on education. He criticized Schweikert for opposing a 1 percent sales tax increase that would have funded public schools in the Phoenix area. Schweikert defended himself by saying that he thought that the schools’ administration would not handle the money wisely.
Coons does not support public education. He says public education is badly run and favors supporting private education instead.
The two main candidates, Mitchell and Schweikert, didn’t disagree on everything. They agreed on the fence recently built along the border of Arizona and Mexico to keep out illegal immigrants. Also, Mitchell said that the controversial Arizona immigration law which calls on law enforcement to stop anyone they suspect of being in this country illegally, has created a bad image for Arizona. Both Schweikert and Coons agreed.
What the voters think will be decided on November 2. Check back here to find out which candidate will represent the 5th Congressional District in Arizona when the 112th Congress is seated in January 2011.
PHOTO: At a debate in Tempe, Arizona, are candidates (from left) Nick Coons, David Schweikert, Harry Mitchell, and moderator Robert Leger. (Photo Courtesy Maya Williams)