From Michael Clancy in Saturday’s Scottsdale Republic.
LD 23 Senate debate spotlights contrasts
MICHAEL CLANCY | THE REPUBLIC | AZCENTRAL.COM
Paula Pennypacker was determined to point out the differences between her and state Rep. John Kavanagh during their Clean Elections debate for the Senate seat in Legislative District 23.
Kavanagh remained calm at the Oct. 1 event in Scottsdale, occasionally accusing his opponent of unwarranted attacks, as he explained his conservative record in two terms in the Arizona House of Representatives.
The contrasts were clear from the beginning. Kavanagh, a Republican who has been chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, gave his work and educational history in his opening statement, turning to the issues only to mention the expected budget shortfall in 2015.
Pennypacker, the Democratic challenger, briefly described her background and then jumped into her positions and attacks on the Republican majority in the Legislature.
“We’ve had the tax cuts, but where is all the growth?” she asked. She called for an end to divisive partisan politics.
The heavily Republican District 23 covers most of Scottsdale and Fountain Hills.
Questions from the small audience at Kerr Cultural Center ranged from positions on private prisons, identification of donors, Scottsdale’s sign ordinance, means of balancing the budget, term limits, gay rights, jobs, Medicaid expansion, pensions and the state’s most serious challenge.
They both oppose legislative term limits. They agreed campaign donors should not be able to remain anonymous and that a 401(k) approach is not the best way to address pension reform. Pennypacker said the Legislature could have a cted on the latter two while Kavanagh was a member, but didn’t.
Kavanagh, noting his experience as appropriations chairman, said most of his positions, from favoring private prisons to opposing Medicaid expansion, had to do with balancing the budget.
He acknowledged the decisions were difficult, but in the absence of new revenues, some programs had to be cut. Not likely to face cuts this time around are education, due to the court decision that the state owes money to the schools, and to the state’s revamped child-protection office, which was a priority last session. He also promised to try to maintain the Highway Users Revenue Fund.
Pennypacker said the deficit could be made up by reforming the state tax code. Kavanagh called it “smoke and mirrors.”
On the gay-rights issue, Pennypacker said all people deserve life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, while Kavanagh noted that Senate Bill 1062, which would have permitted businesses to turn away gay people on the basis of religion, was aimed at protecting “substantial religious belief.” He said he did not oppose gay rights but he supported rights of religious believers. “There’s a happy medium,” he said.
Pennypacker, at the end, said Kavanagh would have been fired by now if he worked in the private sector because his positions have failed. She said despite his calls for reduced regulation, he supports intrusive regulations when it comes to women’s and children’s health care and other issues.
Kavanagh ended by accusing Pennypacker of “ranting” and summarizing some of his legislative accomplishments.
“There’s a happy medium.”
JOHN KAVANAGH, state representative and candidate for state senate, on balancing gay rights and religious beliefs.
“We’ve had the tax cuts, but where is all the growth?”
PAULA PENNYPACKER, candidate for state senate.