In an attempt to gain student support, six candidates running for local office spoke to students at a Meet the Candidates forum last night.
About 50 people attended the forum, sponsored by Hillel, the College Republicans and the Young Democrats.
The event was meant to engage students who tend to focus only on presidential elections and ignore local races, said Jeremy Tor, a senior majoring in Spanish and political science, who organized the event.
"A lot of people go into the voting booth and vote for the president, when they have 10 other offices to vote for," Tor said. "Local elections affect us much more immediately than national elections do."
Tor said a lot of campus groups have focused their activities on voter registration, overlooking another important factor in getting young people out to vote - familiarity with the candidates and issues.
"It's crucial that students meet the candidates one-on-one to see who they are," he said.
Candidates talked to students about their main concerns and how they affect students.
Republican Bill Phillips, running for state representative of District 28, said he favors lowered taxes and fiscal responsibility when budgeting, but would be able to work with Democrats to make positive change for Arizonans.
Phillips said he is concerned with the accessibility of health care - especially for small businesses - and said medical malpractice lawsuits are costing the state a lot of needed money.
Phillips said he wants to change Arizona's ranking as the state with the highest high school drop-out rate in the nation. "We need to do something about that," he said. "We need to work with teachers, students, and community members to change that."
Rep. Ted Downing (D), running for reelection in District 28, said he was part of the coalition in the legislature which passed this year's budget for the university system, increasing the budget slightly for the first time in years.
He said that out of all financial aid used by students in Arizona, only 0.2 percent comes from the state.
"That's criminal," Downing said. "We should be investing in students." He said he would increase that number and make education a priority if reelected.
Rep. Dave Bradley (D), running for reelection in District 28 said he's concerned with the links between poverty, violence, and substance abuse, and that education is key to improving Arizona communities.
"The answer to poverty is education," Bradley said. "It's the first answer we have to the problems of poverty."
He also said young people are key to making the future better.
"Get involved in the political process and lift people up," Bradley said.
Sen. Gabrielle Giffords (D), running for reelection in District 28, said she became interested in politics years ago because she was tired of opening the newspaper everyday and seeing the state ranked last in so many social indicators.
Giffords said students should care what goes on in the state Legislature because so much happens there that affects the university.
"I think it's important to step up," she said. "That's what I did, and that's what I encourage you all to do."
Joseph Sweeney (R), running for U.S. representative in District 7, said he wants to amend the laws regulating the Peace Corps to allow foreign students to receive funding to return to work in their home countries.
Sweeney said it's important for students to "get the power of your vote back because it's been taken away by the corporations."
He called for a return to grassroots politics and a change in immigration policy. He said 10 million people come into the country illegally each year, and only 1 million go through the naturalization process.
"There's illegality all over the country on this issue," Sweeney said. "You can see why we're in chaos right now."
Eva Bacal (D), running for U.S. representative District 8, said she wants to become the first women to represent Arizona in the U.S. Congress since 1932.
"We (women) think differently, we act differently, and I think I will represent you differently," Bacal said.
She said the millions spent in Iraq per week would be spent better domestically.
Bacal said as a wife and mother, "I know how to balance a budget. I know how to turn a deficit into a surplus. I want a balanced budget, I want a budget that does protect students and our future."
Candidates for state senator for Dist. 28 include Mike Chavla (L), Gabrielle Giffords (D), and Charles Josephson (R).
Candidates for state representative for District 28 include Dave Bradley (D), Ted Downing (D), Daniel Hickman (L), and Bill Phillips (R).
Candidates for U.S. House of Representatives for District 8 include Eva Bacal (D), Jim Kolbe (R), and Robert Anderson (L).
Candidates for U.S. House of Representatives for Dist. 7 include Raul Grijalva (D), Dave Kaplan (L), and Joseph Sweeney (R).
To find out which legislative and congressional district you live in, go to: http://www.recorder.co.pima.az.us/search/geocode/search.html