Gubernatorial hopefuls debate via satellite

By Sarah Mayhew

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Eddie Basha called the Arizona Board of Regents of which he is a member obsolete last night at an interactive television debate from two Arizona universities.

Basha, speaking from Arizona State University, said that the roles and missions of the state's three universities and their branch campuses are different and require different governing approaches.

"The Board of Regents in its present composition is somewhat obsolete," Basha said, responding to an ASU student's question about the demographic composition of the university system's governing board.

Last spring, a Mesa senator introduced legislation during the state's regular legislative session that would have required the governor to appoint a certain number of graduates from each university to the board. The measure died.

Fellow Democrat Paul Johnson, the former Phoenix mayor, said that while regional representation was important on the board, regents must be cohesive and pull the entire university system together.

Republican Barbara Barrett said that university and political loyalties should not be a factor in appointing regents.

"It's not something you give to someone because it's a political plum," Barrett said, adding, " I don't think anybody should be on the board representing an institution."

Libertarian John Buttrick said regents should be appointed according to their education backgrounds and the appointments should be separate from political appointments.

Gov. Fife Symington and Democrat Terry Goddard did not attend the debate, but sent representatives in their place.

Throughout the 2 1/2-hour debate, campaign-weary candidates exchanged lighthearted barbs.

Basha told Rep. Bob Edens, R-Tempe, who filled in for Symington, "Thank God it was an election year so we (the university system) got some money."

After laughing, Basha apologized, saying, "That was a cheap shot. I apologize. I've been doing this all day."

Students who attended the forum said the jokes made the debate bearable.

Eric Limbs, a UA student and registered democrat, said the silliness kept him listening.

He also said that after sitting through the debate, he has decided to vote for Paul Johnson. Before the forum, he was debating between Johnson and Goddard.

About 100 people attended the debate at the University of Arizona. Audiences at the other schools were not visible. The three main campuses were linked by satellite television so that audiences at all of the schools could ask the candidates questions.

NAU-Yuma also was linked by satellite and ASU-West and UA-Sierra Vista could watch the debate and ask questions, but were not visible to the other schools.

Last night's debate was the first satellite debate. The Arizona Students' Association began holding gubernatorial debates on each campus during the 1986 election.

The students questions ranged from admissions requirements to gun control and the death penalty.

All of the candidates and the two stand-ins said they supported the death penalty and all but Buttrick and Symington's stand-in agreed with gun control for criminals and children.

UA finance students Nicole Landeros, a Republican, and Rhett Trujillo, a Democrat, both said that after the debate, they plan to vote for Basha in the primary.

"He seems very open-minded," Landeros said.

The primary election is next Tuesday. All registered voters may cast their ballots for candidates within their party affiliations. Those who are registered as independents or with small independent parties, including libertarians, can cast their vote for an independent candidate only.

Oct. 10 is the last day to register to be eligible to vote in the Nov. 8 general election. The deadline to vote in the primary has passed. Students may register through the Associated Students of the University of Arizona.

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