Three Candidates Face Off In Race For Congressional District One

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The balance of power in Congress could possibly rest with the man elected to represent Arizona's new District One.

The two men at the forefront of the race are Democrat George Cordova and Republican Rick Renzi. A Libertarian candidate, Edwin Porr, is also on the ballot, but has kept a mostly nonexistent profile in this part of the district.

George Cordova, Democrat

George Cordova is the son of a Mexican immigrant who worked in the farming industry. His family came to Arizona when he was five and he has spent the last 31 years here. The candidate became a U.S. citizen in 1986, describing the event as the best day of his life.

"I am the son of an Arizona farmer, whose heart and roots lie in rural Arizona. I know that our needs as rural Arizonans are very different from those who live in our metropolitan areas," Cordova said.

The four primary issues he is focusing on are Social Security, education, prescription drugs and health care.

Cordova believes that Social Security is a promise made to senior citizens and the leaders of this country have an obligation to protect benefits from any cuts. He is opposed to investing Social Security in the stock market.

Cordova worked to put himself and one of his younger brothers through college. He said with that experience, he understands the value of a quality education. He plans to work to reduce class sizes; improve teacher pay and training to attract the best teachers to rural parts of the state; upgrade classrooms and school buildings; and bring more accountability by making sure that education money is spent in the classroom where it belongs.

On the issue of prescription drugs, Cordova believes senior citizens should not have to cross the border to Mexico to get affordable prescription drugs. He said he will work to lower the cost of life-saving drugs and will fight to create a guaranteed prescription drug benefit in Medicare.

Cordova said he places a very high priority on helping the people of District One by bringing the quality of rural health care up to the standard enjoyed by more urban communities. He believes rural health care can be improved by bringing doctors and rural residents closer together using technology.

Another concern about rural health care is that too many senior citizens cannot find doctors near their homes who will take Medicare patients. He said he will fight to fix this by making sure that Arizona gets its fair share of Medicare reimbursements so that it gets as much money as other states.

Cordova supports a patients' bill of rights which guarantees patients the right to choose their own doctor. He also plans to fight to reform HMOs, so the decisions about health care are made by doctors and patients, not insurance company bureaucrats.

Rick Renzi, Republican

Rick Renzi, the son of a career Army man, spent a large part of his youth in southern Arizona while his father served at Fort Huachuca in Sierra Vista. Renzi graduated from high school in Sierra Vista and earned a degree from Northern Arizona University in 1980.

He said his first job out of college was working for the cable company in Payson, so he has a sense of what Payson and Rim country residents are concerned about.

On a recent visit to Payson, Renzi met with Rep. Jake Flake and others to discuss ways to expedite Congressional action on fire and water issues for the Rim country.

Other issues he plans to pursue if elected are: tax reform; pushing the Forest Service to allow snow-making at the Snow Bowl in Flagstaff; the land exchange between the U.S. Forest Service at the Yavapai Ranch Partnership; and eliminating pork barrel projects.

The tax reform with the best chance of success, according to Renzi, is one which relieves some of the tax burdens of small businesses. He said the small business committee is willing to discuss the matter and that is a step in the right direction. Renzi did not address two other reforms he has said he wants to see: the reduction of the marriage penalty tax and the permanent repeal of the death tax.

Regarding snow-making at Snow Bowl, Renzi said the project could take three to five years to start, but he said he feels efforts will succeed. The project will provide stability for many Flagstaff area businesses that rely on the winter tourist trade. Before the project becomes a reality, there must be an environmental assessment and he expects there will also be a judicial challenge. Reclaimed water will be used for the project, he said.

The Forest Service-Yavapai Ranch Partnership land trade is another project Renzi sees benefiting Flagstaff. It will allow an expansion of the city's airport, which in turn will better support existing businesses, such as the tourist trade, bringing in summer golf packages from Laughlin and Las Vegas, and W.L. Gore.

To reduce pork barrel projects, Renzi is proposing an agency-by-agency review. He said many existing programs are automatically renewed and funded, without ever going through a review process to see if they are doing what they are designed to do, whether or not what they were created to accomplish has been accomplished and the time has come to shut them down. In fact, he would like to do away with all the automatic budget increases for all programs.

Asked to address the accusation that he is a carpetbagger, claiming residency in Arizona just to get elected to Congress, Renzi said he has lived in Arizona for 15 years and has three active businesses in the state, employing 14 people.

He said the times he has not resided in Arizona, while going to law school and working with the Department of Defense, he has kept an Arizona drivers' license.

Renzi said he currently resides in Flagstaff and has run Fountain Realty Development with a partner since 1995. In the past 24 months, the company has built 32 homes in northern Arizona.

The tax reform with the best chance of success, according to Renzi, is one which relieves some of the tax burdens of small businesses. He said the small business committee is willing to discuss the matter and that is a step in the right direction. Renzi did not address two other reforms he has said he wants to see: the reduction of the marriage penalty tax and the permanent repeal of the death tax.

Regarding snow-making at Snow Bowl, Renzi said the project could take three to five years to start, but he said he feels efforts will succeed. The project will provide stability for many Flagstaff area businesses that rely on the winter tourist trade. Before the project becomes a reality, there must be an environmental assessment and he expects there will also be a judicial challenge. Reclaimed water will be used for the project, he said.

The Forest Service-Yavapai Ranch Partnership land trade is another project Renzi sees benefitting Flagstaff.

To reduce pork barrel projects, Renzi is proposing an agency-by-agency review. He said many existing programs are automatically renewed and funded, without ever going through a review process to see if they are doing what they are designed to do, whether or not what they were created to accomplish has been accomplished and the time has come to shut them down. In fact, he would like to do away with all the automatic budget increases for all programs.

Asked to address the accusation that he is a carpetbagger, claiming residency in Arizona just to get elected to Congress, Renzi said he has lived in Arizona for 15 years and has three active businesses in the state, employing 14 people.

Renzi said he currently resides in Flagstaff and has run Fountain Realty Development with a partner since 1995. In the past 24 months, the company has built 32 homes in northern Arizona.

Ed Porr, Libertarian

Porr, is a 20-year resident of the community of Elks Springs, Ariz., about 30 miles northwest of Flagstaff. He is a retired engineer.

Porr said he will push for more local control on at least three major issues: education, forest management and gun control.

"Other important things are phasing out the income tax and drastically reducing government spending on such things as corporate welfare," he said.

Regarding education, Porr said the time has come to privatize the school system.

"The public school system, though employing many good people, is a failure," he said.

Privatization would result in the quality and accountability that our other private sector industries enjoy and stop the forced programming by Washington bureaucrats, Porr said.

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