Steve Smith (seated) listens to primary opponent Tiffany Shedd speak during a town hall session for U.S. Congressional District 1 facilitated by Mayor Christian Price (left). Photo by Victor Moreno

Engaged citizens quizzed nearly 40 candidates vying for federal, state and local offices Saturday in an Town Hall. Among them were three candidates who want to work in Washington, D.C.

Voters fired off questions in person, too, spanning hot-button issues like education, immigration, State Route 347 and healthcare.

Improving and creating opportunities for rural infrastructure projects was on the mind of a local politician not campaigning during the debate Aug. 4.

Pinal County Supervisor Anthony Smith asked candidates in the U.S. House of Representatives race what projects in Legislative District 11 they’d advocate for if elected to serve in Washington.

Steve Smith (R), current state senator and Maricopa resident who is campaigning to be a congressman, said State Route 347 and the proposed Interstate 11 are his priority projects.

“When President (Donald) Trump says, ‘I want to pledge $1 trillion of revenue growth to infrastructure,’ I’ve got a list of what we need done,” Steve Smith said.

Supplying electricity to the Navajo Nation, widening Interstate 10 and constructing off ramps through the Gila River Indian Reservation to improve opportunities for economic development were projects near to the heart of fellow Republican candidate Tiffany Shedd.

Shedd said she’d support the repeal of a 1930s-era labor law that “pushes costs of (federal) infrastructure projects through the roof.”

Maricopa’s overpass was funded partially from a $15 million federal TIGER grant, as well as $15 million in local contributions, and another $19 million from the Arizona Department of Transportation.

“We really need to repeal these draconian laws that drive the cost of a project up once federal money touches it, so that our rural communities can have enough to grab on to some of that infrastructure money and it doesn’t just go to cities like Phoenix, New York City, Los Angeles,” Shedd said.

Wendy Rogers, the third Republican in the U.S. Congress LD11 race, did not attend the debate though scheduled to appear.

Two Democrats and three Republicans are hoping for a job in the U.S. Senate, including Kyrsten Sinema (D), Deedra Abboud (D), Martha McSally (R), Kelli Ward (R) and former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio (R).

Ward, a former state senator, and the only participant in her race at the debate, faced-off with critics during a confrontational solo campaign appearance.

After discussing civility in politics and healthcare, Ward, in her statements about border security fired off against hecklers in the audience.

“I’d appreciate not being heckled by the left,” Ward said amid shouts from the crowd. “Is anyone not from the left who is heckling?”

U.S. Senate candidate Kelli Ward dealt with a partisan crowd at the town hall. Photo by Angelica Ramis

Maricopa resident Reid Martin answered back, proclaiming his political beliefs align with the Republican party as a moderate.

From the back of the room, Martin said he was frustrated with Ward’s decorum.

Martin said he’s been a registered Republican in every election but said this is the first election where that might change.

He said he came to the Town Hall to question candidates face-to-face.

“If you read enough and you follow these guys enough, our representatives are now running for federal level, you know where they’re going, you know what they voted for, but it’s different to actually hear it come out of their mouths and go on the record,” Martin said.

The eight-hour marathon town hall event at Maricopa High School featured debates from 11 Arizona races. The event was organized by and broadcast live on Facebook. To view the full debates, visit the InMaricopa Facebook page.


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