"I certainly think it is an opportunity to change the direction in this country," Wayne Cassatt said. An avowed Democrat, Wayne hopes that one of the candidates at a forum this Sunday will take away the Congressional District One seat Rick Renzi has held for four years.
Cassatt is a member of the Democrats of the Verde Valley and is helping to organize the forum for the five Democratic Congressional candidates who will compete for the party's nomination at the September Primary. The organization, which recently opened a campaign office in Cottonwood teamed up with Democrats of the Red Rocks in Sedona to host the forum.
The gathering at the Quality Inn on Arizona 89A is one of two Verde Valley opportunities for voters to look at the CD1 candidates. The League of Women Voters will host candidates for CD1 and the Arizona District One House and Senate races the following Saturday at Cottonwood's Public Safety Building on Sixth Street.
The Democratic slate for the CD1 Primary includes a diverse field. "One is a lawyer, another is a talk show host, there is a dentist ... they bring different backgrounds to the Congressional race."
"We want to know, when they go to Washington, how they will express themselves and represent District One. Are these the people that will effectively represent us?"
The election's victor will go on to face incumbent Republican Rick Renzi and Libertarian David Schlosser in the General Election.
The five Democrats include Ellen Simon in Sedona and Bob Donahue of Cornville, Vic McKerlie and Susan Friedman of Prescott and Mike Caccioppoli of Flagstaff. Despite its 60,000 square, there are no candidates from eastern and southern portions of the state where the district also sprawls.
Cassatt is very outspoken about his beliefs. "Voters will think very seriously about making a change. The policies in Iraq have not been very effective. We are not any closer to true democracy in Middle East than before."
The director of Northern Arizona's Social Research Laboratory agrees. Fred Solop believes, "Voters are angry about Iraq. The defeat of Lieberman by Lamont in Connecticut may serve as a harbinger of anti-Bush and Iraq sentiment that will resonate with many sectors of the public."
Solop's polling center will not sample public opinion before the Primary Election, but suggests that "Ellen Simon has emerged in front of the pack because of her fundraising. A lot of attention has been paid to her campaign with its large media approach."
Simon's financial declaration shows she raised $503,000 in the second quarter, far ahead of the other contenders.
Cassatt says he speaks for himself, but that there are others who are looking for a change.
"We have had a reaction among people who not registered as Democrats, among Libertarians or Republicans. They say, 'We want a different viewpoint in Washington and will see if there is a candidate among the five.'"
Karen Waltermire, a board member of the Democrats of the Red Rocks explains that Sunday's forum will be a moderated event in which each candidate will be given a chance to make a statement. Questions will be asked of each candidate before voters have a opportunity to meet with each candidate personally. She said those questions will not be divulged until the forum.
Early voting for the Sept. 12 Primary began Thursday.