By Mila Besich-Lira
The Superior Chamber of Commerce held a meet and greet for all of the candidates running for office in the upcoming general election. The event was well attended by local voters, candidates and campaign staff.
The event was held with the support of Los Hermanos Restaurant who donated the use of the ballroom. Sheriff Paul Babeu and Lando Voyles a candidate for County Attorney sponsored the food for the event. County Treasurer Dodie Doolittle who is seeking reelection sponsored the drinks for the event.
The event was not a traditional forum where candidates were asked questions from a moderator. This candidate event format allowed voters to mingle with candidates and their staff members at designated booths and have individual conversations.
Following the meet and greet time and each candidate was given three minutes to introduce themselves and talk about their positions.
Rather than the candidates being grouped according to office, the candidates each spoke based on alphabetical order of their names. Food and drink sponsors were allowed five minutes to speak. The event program originally listed Babeu and Voyles as speaking at the beginning of the program after Doolittle however, an agenda modification was made and the two spoke at the end of the forum.
All of the candidate attending each took their allotted three minutes to introduce themselves, talk about current issues and concerns for the area.
Doolittle explained that she is running for a second term as Pinal County Treasurer. She explained that her office is responsible for managing and investing the funds that the county receives. She highlighted her many years of experience working at the County in the Treasurer’s Office.
A common theme amongst the candidates for the Legislative District 8 was the need for education funding and their ideas on building a stronger economy for the area. Those running for the county offices such as school superintendant, and recorder, focused on their abilities to get the job done and their work related experience versus talking party politics.
Marcia Busching who was the sole Corporation Commission candidate in attendance explained that she and her team of candidates were focusing on making a brighter future for Arizona with further advancement of solar energy.
Staff representatives from the Arizona Senate campaigns attended the forum and spoke on behalf of Dr. Richard Carmona (D) and Rep. Jeff Flake (R). The Arizona Senate race is currently neck and neck with Carmona currently leading in the polls. Congressional District 1 candidates Ann Kirkpatrick and Jonathan Paton were not in attendance at the event.
The evening ended with current County Attorney Jim Walsh providing his three-minute presentation about, the success his department has had with child support collections and he talked about the importance of the County Attorney being independent from the County Sheriff. Walsh explained that seven out of 10 cases in his office end up with the defendant going to prison or being sentenced to probation.
Both Voyles and Babeu used their time to explain how if they were elected the two would make a good team because they would be much harder on criminals than Walsh would. Voyles specifically referenced the Brian Shaw case, which has become an ongoing source of attack on Walsh during the campaign season.
Walsh was not given an opportunity to rebut the claims made by both Voyles and Babeu during the forum. Walsh issued a written statement to the Copper Area News at the request of Lina Austin the event organizer for the Superior Chamber of Commerce. (See related editorial)
Babeu explained that his office has released RICO funds to the Town of Superior to help with a summer recreation programs and his office provides interagency assistance to the Superior Police Department and all police departments throughout the County.
Babeu was the only candidate for the office of sheriff to attend the forum. Independent sheriff candidate Ty Morgan contacted the Copper Area News and said he would have attended if he had been invited or notified of the event.
Comments from candidates and those in attendance were very positive. Voters attending seemed to enjoy meeting the candidates in a relaxed atmosphere.
The following candidates attended the event: Paul Babeu, Lando Voyles, Dodie Doolittle, Marcia Busching, Ernest Bustamante, Gem Cox, Frank Pratt, Barbara Kelly, Barbara McGuire, Joe Ortiz, Pete Rios, Randy Robbins, Orlenda Roberts, Virgina Ross and Jim Walsh. Richard Carmona, Jeff Flake and Emily Verdugo each sent campaign representatives to the event.
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