Originally Published: October 2, 2010 10 p.m.
Arizona's First Congressional District candidates answered Yavapai Tea Party questions in front of a packed and lively crowd at the Yavapai College Performance Hall Saturday night.
U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, a Democrat from Flagstaff, traded answers with Republican general election opponent Paul Gosar, a Flagstaff dentist. Libertarian CD1 candidate Nicole Patti didn't show up. The only other federal candidate at the forum was Independent U.S. Senate candidate Ian Gilyeat. Candidates for state offices spoke after The Daily Courier's press deadline.
The three federal candidates spent about an hour answering nine questions focusing on the economy, health care, Social Security, border security, states rights, gun rights and the U.S. Constitution. Forum moderator Charly Gullett formulated the questions with the help of Yavapai Tea Party leaders.
Gullett felt the need to remind the crowd to be courteous at one point when some people in the audience drowned out Kirkpatrick with noise when she stated that the new federal health care legislation would save $140 million over time.
Kirkpatrick was voicing opposition to Proposition 106 on the state's Nov. 2 ballot, which seeks to prohibit the federal government from requiring citizens to have health insurance.
Kirkpatrick noted the new federal health care law would require insurance companies to cover children with pre-existing medical conditions, prohibit insurance companies from canceling policies on people when they get sick, stop caps on insurance company coverage and help close the Medicare "donut hole" for seniors.
Gosar and Gilyeat said they'd vote for Prop. 106.
"Please tell me one program the federal government supports that actually works," Gosar said.
The federal health care legislation was the "tipping point" in his decision to run, Gilyeat said. His comments about restricting federal power often drew audience applause as loud as the claps for Gosar.
"Folks, it's time we had a doctor in the House," Gosar quipped.
Kirkpatrick's statement that she supported the federal stimulus package to help create jobs also drew loud moans from the crowd.
"I showed up today to take my hits," she said.
Gosar said he would help create jobs by supporting a reduction in the capital gains tax, investment in infrastructure and more credit access for small businesses.
Kirkpatrick said solar and wind power are key to creating more jobs in northern Arizona. Gosar said cutting taxes and regulations would help.
"Once upon a time, we had no EPA," he said.
People in the audience said they appreciated the chance to hear the candidates together. Kirkpatrick has stated that Gosar has refused to respond to her long-standing offer to five debates throughout the huge rural district, although Gosar told The Daily Courier he's open to the idea.
"I think it's a wonderful thing for people to get together, no matter what party they're with," said Roger Morgan of Prescott, sporting a "Got tea?" Prescott Tea Party shirt. He said he felt better about all the candidates after hearing them speak.
Doris Piatak, wearing a Kirkpatrick tee, also said she was proud of all the candidates for showing up. And she wasn't afraid to show her support for a Democrat at the Tea Party event.
"I'm old enough not to be scared," she said, adding, "I didn't think they'd trip an old lady."
Kirkpatrick said she would fight against putting Social Security in the hands of Wall Street, charging Wall Street with being responsible for the country's economic collapse.
Gosar said the federal government needs to restore the Social Security money it's borrowed, and let the public help decide how to do it. Tax cuts would help because they would put people back to work, he said.
"I'm working until the day I die," he said.
Gosar and Kirkpatrick both said they have an "A" rating from the National Rifle Association.