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Mon, Oct. 21

State candidates split on PAN issues

PRESCOTT – State senate and representative candidates from Districts 1 and 4 have mixed opinions about Protect Arizona Now.

The potential initiative would require voters to prove their citizenship when registering to vote and show identification when voting. Applicants for state public benefits also would have to show proof of citizenship. Initiative supporters have been defining public benefits as welfare.

Only one out of seven District 1 state representative and senate candidates clearly voiced support for the initiative.

Allen Briney, a Libertarian running for a District 1 represenative's seat, said he supports Protect Arizona Now.

"What they really ought to do is enforce the laws on immigration," he said.

House incumbents Tom O'Halleran, R-Village of Oak Creek, and Lucy Mason, R-Prescott, did not state a clear position on the initiative.

"It has some merit when you have to have some ID to go into Costco," Mason said.

The initiative comes from good intentions but features a shortsighted view of the larger problem, O'Halleran said.

Democrats James Kimes and Wes Edmonds, both candidates for District 1 representatives' seats, oppose the initiative.

Kimes said the initiative will create a costly and problematic bureaucracy.

Edmonds said he is leery of the initiative because it appears to be racist. He also questioned whether illegal aliens try to vote.

Edmonds said, "Why would they try to vote? They are hiding."

Senate President Ken Bennett, R-Prescott, and his opponent, Democrat Susan Friedman, both said they do not support the initiative.

"I think it is going to lend a lot of confusion and division," Bennett said.

Friedman said "That is totally un-American. You are implying that everybody who comes to vote is trying to commit fraud."

District 4 opinions

District 4 Republicans Jack Harper, Judy Burges and Tom Boone support the initiative. Fellow Republicans Carole Hubbs and Susan Burke oppose it.

Hubbs, Burges and Boone are competing for two District 4 representative seats. Burke is running against Harper, the incumbent, for the district's state senate seat.

Burges said she supports the initiative because she thinks illegal aliens frequently vote. In a phone interview with the Courier, Burges recalled hearing an El Mirage city councilwoman admit voting before becoming a citizen.

Hubbs said laws preventing illegal aliens from voting and receiving public benefits already exist. Most illegal aliens already purchase and successfully use fake identification, she said.

"I do not think we need an expensive ballot initiative to set up another bureaucracy that will not work anyway," Hubbs said.

Contact the writer at jkamin@prescottaz.com

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