Immigration not the only issue in this year's elections - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Tribune Editorial Immigration not the only issue in this year's elections

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Posted: Sunday, August 8, 2010 8:00 am | Updated: 5:44 pm, Mon Aug 9, 2010.

In a little more than two weeks, Arizona voters will go to the primary polls to select the candidates they want to see on the November general election ballot. Street corners across the Valley are littered with campaign signs, and television is airing one political commercial after another. Even Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio — who is not up for election this year — has ads airing that say Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley, who is running, doesn’t support Arizona’s new illegal immigration law or Arpaio’s enforcement of such laws.

In fact, the sheriff’s ads are just one example of how one issue — illegal immigration — has nearly hijacked this year’s elections despite the fact that illegal immigration is not the only, or even the most important issue, Arizona needs to grapple with at this time.

For instance, Arizona has the second highest foreclosure rate in the nation, with 91,484 properties — one in every 30 homes — impacted by foreclosure in the first half of this year alone.

Year after year, Arizona ranks near the bottom compared to other states in how well it funds public schools. Results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress show Arizona students lag behind their peers in most other states.

Arizona businesses have laid off thousands of workers. Some have closed. Currently there are an estimated 309,000 unemployed residents in our state.

And what about the state budget? According to recent report by the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, Arizona could be in the red by as much as $1 billion.

As they consider who to cast ballots for in the Aug. 24 primary, voters should do their homework on the candidates, paying particular attention to what these office-seekers say they will do to help make Arizona’s economy robust again. What’s their plan for attracting industries with good-paying jobs to Arizona? How will they approach budget cuts at the state and local level?  What will they do to ensure that every Arizona child has access to the best education possible? How will they keep us safe in our homes, in our cities and on our roadways — and not just on the Mexican border?

By all means, we need to consider where the candidates stand on illegal immigration and border security. But there are many other issues important to our quality of life in Arizona.

To help you decide the best people to represent your interests we have created a special political page — AZ Unplugged — on our website, evtrib.com. We encourage you to spend some time there checking out candidate profiles, political stories, forums and, most importantly, the candidates’ views in their own words, unedited by us.

The primary is 17 days away. Make your decisions well-informed ones.

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