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|Congress-hopefuls duel it out in the desert|
|Written by Michelle A. Monroe|
|Tuesday, 01 May 2012 03:58|
Gabrielle Giffords, former U.S. Representative, gave up her seat in Congress one year after the Jan. 8, 2011 mass shooting where she was shot point-blank in the head.
Jared Lee Loughner allegedly shot 19 people at one of Giffords’ public events called "Congress on Your Corner." Six people died, including a federal judge and a 9-year-old girl, and Giffords spent every day in rehabilitation.
Giffords, who represented District 8, announced her resignation on Jan. 25.
A special election to replace her seat for the remainder of her term will be help on June 12. Primary elections were held on April 17, and Ron Barber, Giffords’ former aid and one of the Jan. 8 victims, ran unopposed and secured the Democratic Party nomination. Jesse Kelly, who ran against Giffords in her most recent election, beat four other candidates for the Republican Party’s nomination.
Kelly served four years in the Marine Corps before retiring and is a project manager for his family’s construction business.
He will be visiting the Tombstone area in the next few weeks, talking with voters about his plans for the border.
“I want to let them know that we will protect the border,” Kelly said. “I want to work with ranchers and take care of the border security for them.”
His main goal is to build the double-layer border fence that was approved by the federal government six years ago.
“The double layer border fence is already law. We just need to get the funding to build the fence in Arizona,” Kelly said.
Education is another of his primary concerns for Cochise County and the state.
“Education funding is critical right now and the best way to increase it is by keeping our funds in Arizona instead of sending them to the federal government and getting 70 cents on the dollar,” Kelly said. “We need to keep Arizona money in Arizona and that will increase funds for education, which we know our children and our schools desperately need.”
For Tombstone specifically, he hopes to support the town in its fight to regain its water, after the town’s main water line was severely damaged last year, cutting off any of its water to the town.
Tombstone officials filed suit against the U.S. Forest Service after being “stonewalled,” said City Manager and City Clerk George Barnes in a previous interview.
“I’d support the Forest Service getting out of the way so Tombstone can take care of itself,” Kelly said. “They’ve done it before, and the city knows what it needs and how to take care of itself.”
Barber is a former administrator in the Arizona Department of Economic Security's division of developmental disabilities but retired in 2006 to work for Giffords. He was her Tucson District Director for five years. On Jan. 8 he was shot in the leg and face but survived thanks to a passerby.
"Our community needs someone who will put politics aside and solve problems for the people of Southern Arizona," Barber said in a statement released in February. "My commitment is to be honest with the people of this district and help restore civility to our public life. My first priority won't be the next election — but the next generation. That means balancing the budget the right way by protecting Social Security and Medicare, creating jobs, and securing our border."
His goals include more Border Patrol agents, high-tech assets including mobile surveillance systems, and improving mobile communication at the border.
Barber said if elected he would also focus on the military bases and families in Southern Arizona.
“I was raised in a military family and lived on Davis-Monthan Air Force base, so I understand what our military families sacrifice when they serve,” Barber said on his website. “I will be a strong voice in Congress for those who serve currently and have served.”
One of his goals, according to his website, is making sure Fort Huachuca is “protected from closure by maintaining close communication with local commanders, working with community groups like the DM50, the Huachuca50 and the TMCC Military Affairs Committee, and securing new missions for each installation.”