Perhaps the election season is winding down.
Only a small crowd gathered at Cottonwood's Public Safety Building Saturday morning to hear Democratic candidates for the Congressional District 1 race.
Republican candidates were scheduled during the early afternoon hours (after presstime) in a forum under the banner of the League of Women voters. The event was co-sponsored by the five Chambers of Commerce in the Verde Valley and the Yavapai Apache Nation.
Candidates included Ann Kirkpatrick, Howard Shanker, Jeffrey Brown and independent Brent Maupin. Mary Kim Titla could not attend, but sent a campaign statement and her manager was on hand with materials for those who attended.
Kirkpatrick noted that the candidates have attended 17 forums across the sprawling district, the size of the state of Illinois.
Candidates were asked how they would, as an elected Representative, balance the needs across the massive district.
Kirkpatrick said many issues are the same: jobs, healthcare, schools, high gas prices and being a very rural district. She said she would do the same as she has as a state representative in "raising the profile of the district."
Maupin also noted the "commonalities within the district." Like a mantra, he repeated throughout the forum that District One need "authentic" leadership in Congress.
Shanker cited his many accomplishments as an attorney representing Indian nations and other disenfranchised defendants. He calls himself a "fighter" and says that is what the district needs.
The candidates would have very low seniority if first elected, Moderator Robin Prudomme-Bauer pointed out. How would they succeed in passing legislation? Brown said he has already been in the arena working for city officers as well as in larger campaigns. "I am the only candidate who has worked in a bi-partisan environment. We can't look at Republicans as the enemy."
Maupin suggested there is an advantage to being a junior member, not having to deal with a "lack of integrity." He cited a number of charges of corruption against senior House members.
Kirkpatrick said she has already had experience "getting legislation passed in a Republic legislature."
Most of the candidates pointed to the economy as "the most important issue for Congress."
Maupin again repeated the "lack of integrity and citizen involvement" among the stumbling blocks to successful lawmaking.
The candidates frequently supported HR 676, the National Health Insurance Act that would guarantee access to care for all Americans through a national, non-profit system of universal healthcare.
Kirkpatrick said she would not support the legislation until she read the text of the final bill. She did cite the need for coverage for pre-existing conditions, SCHIP (State Children's Health Insurance Program) and lower prescription costs.
Maupin said many of the problems of the health industry boiled down to "greed."
Candidates agreed that the United States must bolster its flagging status in the world. Shanker said the U.S. has been "heavy-handed when it can't talk with its enemies. Diplomacy should be a mainstay," he emphasized.
Maupin said, "We have to clean up our own back yard first. Some representatives need to be "out of office or off to jail."
In addition to the four Democrats and independent candidate, four candidates are seeking the Republican nod at the Sept. 2 primary. Those include Sydney Hay, Sandra Livingstone, Tom Hansen and Barry Hall.
The Mingus Mountain Republican Club will hold a forum for the GOP candidates at the VFW Hall off Aspen Street, Aug. 26 from 2-4 p.m.