Tue, July 23

Q&A with Ann Kirkpatrick
Incumbent Kirkpatrick sells independence, fiscal discipline

Mid-term elections can be tough on a candidate who is of the same party of a sitting but less-than-popular president.

It is a political reality that first-term congresswoman Anne Kirkpatrick is having to face as she tries to become something other than a one-term congresswoman.

To her credit, she has not been a complete rubber stamp to the president's policies, having crossed the aisle on a handful of occasions.

But in a political environment where votes go along party lines more often than not, it is tough to show you are not part and party to the disillusionment of the electorate.

In an interview with Verde Valley Newspapers, Kirkpatrick discusses her record, immigration, the economy, the election and what she feels needs to be done over the next two years.

VVN: House congressmen have been targeted. Sarah Palin has endorsed the candidate who is opposing you. How does that make you feel? ?

Kirkpatrick: I always respect my opponent. I never take anything for granted. I look forward to a spirited debate. In this district I think it all comes down to people who live here. I think rural Arizona people are more concerned about the person than the party.

I am really just an independent voice for rural Arizona. That has always been my goal. I really care about the people of the district and what's best for them. Of course there is going to be a spirited debate about what's best. But I think in this election there is going to be a clear choice, and that's what democracy is all about. We should have a choice.

VVN: What about the President? Ben Quayle says he is the worst president in history.

Kirkpatrick: I don't pay much attention to campaign ads. I think the people who really know what is going on are the man and woman on the street -- you know the small business owner. They are the people most focused on what I care about.

You know they are trying to hold onto their businesses. It's a tough economic time. It isn't a presidential election, it's a congressional election, and they are going to be looking at the candidates in terms of who they think is going to turn around the economy.

VVN: How have the business people reacted to your voting record?

Kirkpatrick: They do give a thumbs up. I have done a lot for small business. I really opposed the Wall Street bailout. I think we should have directed the money towards to small businesses. Small business contributes to our economic engine, and I still continue to talk to them about what works

We are very realistic here in rural Arizona. We know it is not going to be a quick recovery and we see some good in that, because there were some things that were not healthy for the economy. And we are used to doing more with less.

VVN: Do you feel we are seeing any measurable numbers?

Kirkpatrick: We are seeing it. You have a business here in Cottonwood that is up to 70 employees. I was just at a business in Flagstaff that has grown from two to 50 employees. They are great jobs. They are small businesses that have expanded through this downturn and are able to hire more people.

The House has recently voted to close the corporate loophole that sends jobs overseas and I think if the Senate acted quickly, that could have a huge impact on job creation. The economy is really all about jobs.

VVN: Is stimulus money making a difference?

Kirkpatrick: The Congressional Office of budget, which is bipartisan, has said that it has really worked to stabilize the economy, to save jobs and to prevent something like the Great Depression. I am a fiscal conservative. But both sides, Bush and Clinton administration people, said, across the board, we have to do it.

So even though unemployment is higher than I'd like to see it, it's not the 33 percent we had during the Depression. My biggest concern is that the banks are not lending to small businesses. Until we get more money into circulation we are not going to see a robust employment report.

VVN: What issues will you concentrate on in the next two years?

Kirkpatrick: Fiscal discipline. I think this country has really strayed from those core values of fiscal discipline. We need to do more with less. I introduced the congressional 5 percent pay cut bill. It would be the first time we have cut pay since the Great Depression.

We also need to clean up banking regulations. The bottom line is the next two years are going to be about the economy. It will not be so much about throwing money at problems but doing smart things that make a difference.