Ron Barber

Age: 67

Highest education: Bachelor’s degree

Current employment: Member of Congress representing Arizona’s 8th Congressional District

Party affiliation: Lifelong member of the Democratic Party.

Where do you reside?: Tucson

Marital status: Married with two children and four grandchildren.

Business experience: For 22 years, my wife, Nancy, and I owned and operated Toy Traders-Stork’s Nest, stores with two locations and over 20 employees.

Military experience: I grew up in a military family. As District Director for Congresswoman Giffords, I worked closely with military leaders and personnel and have continued do so since being elected to represent Southern Arizona in Congress.

Political experience: In June, I was elected in a special election to represent Arizona’s 8th Congressional District.

Martha McSally

Age: 46

Highest education: Master’s in Public Policy, Master’s in Strategic Studies

Current employment: Retired Military

Party affiliation: Republican

Where do you reside?: Tucson

Marital status: Single

Business experience: I started my own cookie business in high school, as well as a lawn mowing business.

Military experience: Served for 26 years, retired colonel, first woman to command a fighter squadron in combat.

Political experience: Legislative Fellow, Sen. Jon Kyl

1. Please provide your plan to maintain or improve the security of the U.S./Mexico border.

BARBER: The thousands of Southern Arizonans who live near our border with Mexico have a right to the same level of safety as every other American. It is the responsibility of the federal government to uphold that right. That’s why I have made border security a top priority. I joined the Homeland Security Committee and Border Security Caucus so I could be a strong advocate for legislation to improve border security. I have also introduced bipartisan legislation, the “United States-Mexico Cross Border Security Act,” which requires the United States and Mexico to work cooperatively to fight Mexican criminal organizations. Improving the security of our border means that we must have more agents at the border, more customs inspectors at ports of entry, more mobile surveillance systems, increased air support, additional forward operating bases and horse patrols, and more unmanned aerial assets. My commitment is to continue to find bipartisan solutions that secure our border.

McSally: My experience as a senior military leader provides a unique perspective on the serious threat of a lack of a secure border. The federal government has failed to have the political will to secure our border and it is a national security issue and public safety issue for our community. We need to deploy a combination of fences and barriers where appropriate, plus deploy our manpower at the border, combined with proven sensors and airborne assets to detect, monitor, and intercept illegal activity. We must use intelligence-driven operations to focus our efforts on known trafficking routes to maximize effectiveness.

2. Please explain your position regarding the Affordable Health Care Act.

BARBER: I was not in Congress in 2010 when the Affordable Care Act passed the House. The law is far from perfect, and there are a number of revisions I would like to make to it. I am currently preparing legislation that will list a number of critical amendments to the law. This will include provisions to ensure small businesses are not hurt and to prevent exorbitant premium increases. I voted against repeal in order to protect the benefits this law provides to families, which include providing preventative care to seniors on Medicare, stopping insurance companies from denying people care because of a pre-existing condition, and lowering prescription drug prices for more than 140,000 seniors here in Southern Arizona. Maintaining the law will also reduce the deficit by $127 billion over ten years. Repeal would increase the deficit by more than $100 billion.

McSally: The Affordable Health Care Act is a classic case of government over reach and mismanagement. It cuts medicare services by over $700 billion dollars, increases taxes on all Americans, and puts unelected bureaucrats between Americans and their doctors. We have to repeal it. That being said, we cannot just go back to the old system either, sky rocketing costs and insurance premiums are not acceptable. When we repeal the Affordable Health Care Act, we must replace it with a system that brings down costs, preserves choice, and strengthens the doctor-patient relationship.

3. Please explain your position regarding the “Ryan budget,” particularly its proposal to cut Medicare.

BARBER: I strongly oppose the “Ryan budget,” which gives tax breaks to millionaires at the expense of seniors on Medicare. The Ryan budget would end Medicare’s guarantee of healthcare for people over 65, and increase costs for seniors by $6,400 a year all to pay for $265,000 in additional tax breaks to people making more than $1 million. I agree with AARP when it says the plan will “simply increase costs for beneficiaries while removing Medicare’s promise of secure health coverage -- a guarantee that future seniors have contributed to through a lifetime of hard work.” The Wall Street Journal also wrote that the Ryan budget would mean “the end of Medicare as we know it.” I oppose such dramatic changes in the Medicare program.

McSally: I applaud the House of Representatives for devising and passing a budget, something the Senate has not done for 3 years. However, I have some concerns and disagreements with the specifics of the Ryan plan, one of them being the proposal for Medicare without addressing initiatives to bring down the overall costs of medical care. We must make comprehensive reforms to the entire health care system to decrease costs and ensure health care decisions are made between patients, families and doctors. Medicare Advantage providers that focus on preventive health and coordination of care, like Caremore in Tucson, are a great model of where we should go to improve quality of life and gain savings and solvency for future generations.

4. Currently, defense spending is scheduled for significant reductions over the next 10 years. In addition, sequestration of the Pentagon budget is scheduled to begin Jan. 1, 2013. Considering the impact that defense spending has on the economy in Southeast Arizona, what will you do if elected to mitigate the impact of future reductions in federal defense spending?

BARBER: The across-the-board budget reductions known as ‘sequestration’ will have a devastating effect on Southern Arizona’s economy and our military installations. Congress must act to prevent $492 billion in indiscriminate cuts from the defense budget. This has created a serious morale problem for our men and women in uniform and uncertainty among civilian employees of defense contractors. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I will oppose such drastic reductions that would harm Fort Huachuca, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, and the men and women stationed there. We must find a bipartisan solution to prevent sequestration. There is bipartisan agreement in the House Armed Services Committee to prevent reductions of this magnitude. Instead, we must look to prudent cuts in all federal agencies using a scalpel, not an axe. We cannot find our way out of the deficit using cuts alone. We must also consider increased revenues.

McSally: I served in the military here in Southern Arizona for almost 10 years throughout my military service, including as a Commander of A-10 squadron. As a senior military officer, I also understand the threats we face as a nation and the capabilities we need to defend against those threats. I know first-hand why our local military bases are national treasures for our national defense and local economies. I understand how vital the intelligence, communications, and unmanned aerial systems (UAS) capabilities at Fort Huachuca are to our national security. I can advocate for why we need to bring the F-35 to Tucson International and eventually Davis-Monthan AFB. I can explain why the weather, airspace, and Barry Goldwater ranges are the best in the country for ensuring readiness of our fighter and UAS assets. In Washington, I will use my first hand knowledge to protect Southern Arizona during the upcoming discussions of right-sizing our military.

Sequestration is another problem all together and is a perfect example of the failure of Washington. Instead of working together to fix our spending problem, they are going to drive our economy over a fiscal cliff and sacrifice our military readiness in order to gain political points. Our current problems are too important to play political games with. Southern Arizona needs to send a leader to Washington with leadership skills and experience solving complex problems. Someone who can bring both sides together to come up with real solutions and avoid disasters like sequestration.

5. What is your opinion of a recommendation by the Environmental Protection Agency to require coal-fired electricity plants in Arizona — including the Apache Power Station — to install equipment that is expected to reduce or eliminate regional haze?

BARBER: I support clean air regulations that help protect Southern Arizonans from the harmful effects of toxic air pollution and regional haze. But the Apache Generating Station should be given time to install the necessary equipment so that it becomes more affordable. Ensuring the safety and public health of our citizens is a high priority. I support enforcement of hazardous waste laws and regulations that work with the industry to ensure standards are met that protect the health of my constituents while taking into consideration our local economy and the implementation of practical technologies on realistic timelines. We must find a balanced approach to ensuring that the air we breathe is clean and safe while guarding against negative impacts on our economy and jobs.

McSally: As an Arizonan and outdoorsman, I treasure clean air and I believe we need to be good stewards of it for future generations.  The EPA’s mandate regarding regional haze, however, will do nothing to protect our air or health.  What it will do is drastically increase energy rates, injure an already fragile economy, drive away jobs, and create more unnecessary burdens for our citizens.  That is unacceptable.  

The Apache Power Station already uses cutting edge technology to ensure that there are no negative environmental side effects from vitally necessary energy creation. The EPA’s argument that selective catalytic reduction will stop “regional haze” is nonsense.  Mandates like this are exactly the kind of bureaucratic meddling and government over-reach that has no place in this country or in our lives.

I made a statement at the meeting in Benson on this issue speaking out strongly against it. Meanwhile, my opponent, Mr. Barber, voted against legislation that would stop the EPA from its war against the coal industry.