CD1 Democrats Differ on Border, Agree on Education

By Cowan, Emery | AZ Daily Star, August 16, 2016 | Go to article overview

CD1 Democrats Differ on Border, Agree on Education


Cowan, Emery, AZ Daily Star


Two former Republicans are running for the Democratic nomination in Congressional District 1.

The district includes Oro Valley, Marana and parts of 10 other counties in Eastern and Northern Arizona. Incumbent Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick is running for U.S. Senate.

Candidate Tom O'Halleran spent nine years as a Republican in the Arizona legislature before he became and independent and now a Democrat. He touts his experience working on bipartisan issues like passing all-day kindergarten and boosting funding for what was then Child Protective Services.

If elected, O'Halleran said he will work on incentivizing jobs in rural America, improving veterans medical care and addressing tribal unemployment.

Miguel Olivas, who has never held elected office but has run for Congress two other times, said he has gained an extensive knowledge of the federal government from years working as an aide for five Republican federal legislators and as a nonprofit and business consultant helping secure federal funding and legislation.

He emphasized his understanding and work with the federal appropriations process, education policy, trade agreements and agencies like the U.S. Forest Service, compared to O'Halleran's state-level experience.

"I know which congressman will support something and I know which congressman won't," he said.

On healthcare

While expressing general support for the Affordable Care Act, the candidates had differing ideas on how to improve Obama's trademark healthcare initiative.

Olivas would like to see more federally qualified health centers that receive some federal dollars and serve the uninsured, the underinsured and low income individuals on a sliding fee scale.

O'Halleran said he would support allowing consumers to buy insurance plans across state lines and would push for negotiating for better pharmaceutical prices.

Both candidates said an analysis is needed to look at why insurance companies like Blue Cross Blue Shield and HealthNet are dropping out of Arizona counties.

"I think the alternative that's workable is to take what we have in place," O'Halleran said.

On gun control

O'Halleran said he doesn't support banning high capacity magazines or assault rifles, but said he's behind expanded background checks and banning gun sales for people who are on the government's no-fly list.

Olivas said he's not in favor of expanding gun control laws, saying that the government needs to better enforce the laws it has on the books. He does support bolstering federal and state reporting requirements for mental health providers.

On social issues

One of Olivas' biggest focuses is the protection of personal freedom when it comes to things like gay and transgender rights, marriage equality and women's reproductive rights.

"When it comes to civil rights I'm very Libertarian-leaning type of guy," he said.

He struggled to explain a quote on his 2014 campaign website about the Obama administration being "a monstrosity that encroaches on our personal freedoms," saying that its actually related to the Bush-era USA Patriot Act that approved an expansion of legal surveillance and investigation techniques. …

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