Sept. 15 was the date for the Legislative District 9 candidate debate hosted by the Citizens Clean Elections Commission (CCEC) and moderated by Hank Stephensen, LD9 resident and editor of the Captiol Times Yellow Sheet.
Due to the pandemic, the 2020 CCEC debates are being held online and not in person, as is the tradition. While we were waiting in the “green room” for the event to start, CCEC Executive Director Tom Collins said that the online debates have had much larger viewership than the in-person events, which is great news.
All three House candidates participated: incumbent Democratic Reps. Randy Friese and Pam Powers Hannley and Republican challenger Brendan Lyons. Unfortunately, Lyons’ schedule dictated a “hard stop” at 7 p.m., so our debate was truncated to one hour. Many audience questions were left unasked.
Below are the video time stamps for different questions, if you are interested in specific topics. Stephensen allows for more candidate interaction; check out the robust debates on unemployment insurance and how to pay for education.
2:28 – Candidates introduce themselves.
7:55 – What is your number one priority and first bill for 2021?
13:15 – How will you make sure that the schools have the resources they need?
21:25 – What do you think of results-based school funding? (An offshoot discussion from the above question.)
22:12 – How will you make sure elections are safe and fair during the pandemic? Should every voter be sent a ballot this year (and in the future), regardless if they are on the Permanent Early Voting List?
27:53 – Should the state increase its unemployment benefits? If so how much and how would you pay for it? (Arizona is one of the worst in the country for unemployment benefits. During this segment the connection went down. Skip ahead.)
34:00 – Unemployment discussion resumed after the Internet glitch. (Unfortunately, due to a lost connection, the audience missed a minor dust up between Lyons and Friese. Originally, Lyons said that he didn’t agree with raising Arizona’s unemployment benefits to the national average because businesses have told him that people won’t want to work if unemployment is too high. Friese took issue with Lyons’ lazy worker insinuation.)
36:32 – What is the one state issue that is not getting the attention it deserves?
40:25 – Do you support the Invest in Ed citizens initiative (Prop 208)? If you are going to vote for this, is it enough or will additional funding for schools be needed? If you are not going to vote for it, does education need more funding, and if so, how would you raise revenue? (A lengthy discussion on how to pay for education ensued. Should Arizona tax the rich by passing Prop 208 or disproportionately tax the middle class and the poor by passing a higher sales tax rate?)
49:37 – Do you support Smart and Safe citizens initiative (Prop 207) to legalize adult use marijuana? (This question sparked a lively discussion about cannabis and mass incarceration.)
53:25 – Candidates make closing comments.
I really appreciate Clean Elections for hosting these debates and Stephensen for letting them get lively. Too bad we were stopped at one hour. The debates are hosted on YouTube and archived in this playlist on the CCEC YouTube Channel. The LD9 and LD10 debates are in the playlist. The LD10 debate with six candidates is over two hours long! Other Southern Arizona candidate debates are yet to come.