Patrick Gatti, Gaither Martin and Jonathan Paton joins Arizona Illustrated for the CD1 Republican candidates' forum. The fourth GOP candidate in this district, Douglas Wade, suspended his campaign this weekend, so he does not appear in the forum.

Name: Patrick Gatti

Running for: U.S. House, District 1

Party: Republican

Website: patrickgattiforcongress.com

Name: Gaither Martin

Running for: U.S. House, District 1

Party: Republican

Website: martin4congress.com/

Name: Jonathan Paton

Running for: U.S. House, District 1

Party: Republican

Website: paton2012.com

Name: Douglas Wade

Running for: U.S. House, District 1

Party: Republican

Website: wadeforcongress2012.com

About the district: Utah on the north, Cochise County on the south, encompassing the entirety of Coconino, Navajo, Apache, Graham, Greenlee counties. Includes parts of Pinal, Pima counties, Saddlebrooke, Oro Valley, Marana, Casa Grande Flagstaff and the Navajo, Hopi and San Carlos Apache nations. Population: 710,224. Non-Hispanic whites, 49.1%; Hispanics, 20.8%; Native Americans, 22.8%; other minorities, 7.3%. Voter registration: 39.6% Democrat; 30.3% other/independent; 30.1% Republican.

Read the full transcript:

Christopher Conover: Welcome to an Arizona Public Media Your Vote 2012 special, the Congressional District 1 Republican Primary Forum. I’m Christopher Conover. Over the next 30 minutes we’ll have a chance to hear from the Republican candidates about where they stand on a variety of issues in Congressional District 1. This is a large sprawling district stretching from Oro Valley north to the Utah border. So let’s meet the candidates, in alphabetical order, Patrick Gatti, Gaither Martin and Jonathan Paton. Thank you all for coming in. Joining me in the question as always is Andrea Kelly from Arizona Public Media. Andrea, we’ll let you ask the first question.

Andrea Kelly: Well, we’re start with Mr. Paton. Southern Arizona voters might know you from your time serving in the State Legislature representing parts of Tucson. You ran for Congress in 2010. You’ve been on the City of Tucson’s Rio Nuevo board. What would you like voters in the rest of the district to know about you?

Jonathan Paton: Well, I think first of all, I’ve served in this community for six years in the legislature. I’m from southern Arizona, was born and raised here but I also am a soldier. I swore an oath to protect and defend this Constitution and served a tour of duty in Iraq. And those kinds of things I think give me the experience that we need to first of all for Republicans to win this seat but second of all to put our country back on track.

Andrea Kelly: Okay. And Mr. Martin, would you please introduce yourself to voters in the district.

Gaither Martin: Sure. I’m Gaither Martin. I was born and raised in Apache County, Springerville, Arizona. Had the chance to work a number of years overseas as an advisor to the U.S. ambassadors and to the Iraqi government, the Iraqi Minister of Planning and have had some unique experiences. Of course growing up in a rural area brings a unique opportunity and experience to the table but then taking the things I learned in Iraq, being able to bring those things back, our foreign policy, our national security, our appropriations are directly applicable to the needs that we have here from our congressmen who would represent us in Washington and CD1.

Andrea Kelly: Great. And Mr. Gatti, what should voters in Congressional District 1 know about you?

Patrick Gatti: Well, I think the most important part is that I had my own business for 27 years and after having it for 27 years I sold it in 2004 and one thing that I learned is that it’s important for any organization to have a balanced budget and for me I can’t imagine the whole United States not having a balanced budget. So one of the things that I would certainly shoot for, fight for would be a balanced budget and no money being spent, no additional money being spent. Additionally, I served 21 years on the city council and two of which was as mayor pro tem. So I’ve got the legislative experience, I know what it’s like to deal with the state and federal government and I think I would be able to represent the voters of CD 1 very well.

Christopher Conover: As we proceed through this we’ll ask each of you in turn questions first so everybody has a chance to go first, everybody has a chance to go last and we’ll just go around until we run out of time. Let’s start with an issue and the issue of weapons and guns. Yesterday here in southern Arizona Jared Loughner was in court, changed his plea. We’ve had the shootings recently in Aurora, Colorado. We will assume you’re all supporters of the Constitution and the Second Amendment but in light of those two shootings and some of the things going on, is it time to revisit the question of large capacity magazines for civilian use. And we’ll start with you, Mr. Martin, on that.

Gaither Martin: There’s no doubt we need to make sure we’re doing everything in our power to protect our Second Amendment rights and going forward the Second Amendment is something that’s near and dear to peoples’ heart in the first district. We have a large population who enjoys the outdoors and enjoys hunting, enjoys fishing, enjoys being outside and having the ability to when they would like carry their weapons and we need to make sure we protect that Second Amendment at all cost. As we move forward I think in this day and age we have to be careful about the political ramifications of starting to narrow things down and the idea that different groups would take that and leverage it into legislation that would cost us in the long run. So I think we need to be very careful as we look at any sort of legislation going forward that is going to limit our ability to carry weapons and the ability of citizens in general to arm themselves as the Constitution outlines and as our forefathers, founding fathers saw fit.

Christopher Conover: Mr. Gatti.

Patrick Gatti: Well, I think that one of the things that’s important is that first of all I’m a constitutional conservative so I adhere to everything and anything that’s in the Constitution. Second of all I think that when we open the door to weapons and multiple cartridges in a weapon, our founding forefathers, they looked at… they were talking about muzzles, they were talking about muskets, they were talking about single shells that took a long time to pack those guns up so that they could fire them. I think that we open a dangerous door when we start talking about multiple cartridges in a weapon. I think that there are individuals that go hunting that do enjoy even that. They enjoy being able to have rapid fire weapons. I think that it would be wrong to start getting into what do we do about those kind of weapons that are loaded that way. We have to realize that it’s the crazies or the individuals that have an agenda that causes us to question whether we should have those kind of weapons.

Christopher Conover: And Mr. Paton.

Jonathan Paton: Well, first of all the tragedy that happened in Tucson was personal for me. I’ve known Gabby Giffords since junior high. I served with her in the Arizona State Legislature and it’s completely tragic what happened. I also believe however that it was Mr. Loughner that committed that crime and he was the one that made the decision and I think that ultimately we need to hold people accountable not the tools that they use. I believe that at the end of the day we are going after the evil in their hearts that cause them to do this but to say that if we didn’t have these magazines they’d find something else, they’d find another way of committing these crimes and we’ve seen this in Aurora, Colorado, we’ve seen it across the board. I actually have a record on the Second Amendment and I support it because I believe the Second Amendment guarantees all the other rights that we have, the other civil liberties that we have and to further infringe upon that I think is counter to what our founders intended and I think it would be bad policy for this country and I think it would be a shame for the Constitution.

Andrea Kelly: All right. Next question, we’ll start with your Mr. Gatti. As you all know, this is a really sprawling district. There are hundreds of square miles and more reservation land than any other district so there’s a diverse needs in this district. You’ve got reservation land, you’ve got incorporated cities, unincorporated land, some Republican heavy areas, some Democrat heavy areas. How will you represent in Congress all of those needs as one representative?

Patrick Gatti: One of the things that I have promised not only to myself but to any other group that I speak to, I made a promise that I will visit each county a minimum of three times in any given period of time to listen to what their needs are. I have gone out to the Hopi Reservation and listened to what they had to say. They have their particular concerns as do residents in Phoenix area and down in Tucson area. So I make a promise that I will visit each county and talk to them, find out what it is they want and I honestly feel that I would be able to represent them equally, no matter what their concerns are.

Andrea Kelly: And Mr. Martin, again, a very sprawling district. How do you represent all those diverse needs in that district?

Gaither Martin: Yeah. You know, there are some themes that run through our district and I think as it was set up, if you look at it geographically even, it’s a very rural district and that rural theme is something that whether you’re in a Democratic party or a Republican party, the needs and concerns of jobs, the economy are a resounding concern, individual liberties even on the reservations, the right to own property, the right to your own home. Those things are individual needs and rights that everyone in the district has no matter where you live and I think as you look at areas even in Flagstaff which have been seen as liberal bastions in the past where we’ve elected… they’ve elected a conservative mayor, conservative city council members. People want to see fiscal responsibility, they want to see jobs created, they want to see the economy is getting back on the right track and that is a theme that resounds again no matter which party you’re in and from top to bottom, north to south, east to west in the district.

Andrea Kelly: And Mr. Paton.

Jonathan Paton: You know, it’s interesting. One of our opponents, Ann Kirkpatrick is considered to be the leading opponent in the general election and while I might not agree on every single issue with my opponents here today, the fact of the matter is they had the courage to show up and we all are here for this debate. Ann Kirkpatrick has refused to have a debate which is the first step in addressing your question, how do you represent the entire district. You represent the entire district by talking to the district, by being visible, by going all over the place and meeting with people. And she has refused as of yet to do that. We’ve had over 15 debates, those of us here today and we’ve discussed the issues, we’ve argued about them, we’ve debated them. She has not done that once and for me the most important thing is is to put the windshield time in, go and talk to people and visit with them and I’ve said again and again, I’m planning on holding town halls. We held our own town hall up in Holbrook not too long ago on the anniversary of when Ann Kirkpatrick actually left her own town hall and left the people there. And I think that’s… the member of this district needs to be someone who’s going to try to do everything they can to represent the entire district, not just the southern portion, not just the northern portion but the whole district and the only way they can do that is meeting people directly.

Christopher Conover: Mr. Paton, you bring up the Democrats in this race so let me ask you something about what they’re accusing you of. They’re bringing back for the second election cycle… they’re calling you… you’ve lined your pockets from the payday lending industry. Second time we’ve heard this. How do you respond to that?

Jonathan Paton: First of all it’s a lie. I represented a charity in 2003 and I can understand why Ann Kirkpatrick would want to bring this up because she has one of the worst voting records that we’ve seen. She voted for ObamaCare, she voted for the stimulus and they’re going to do everything they can to try to detract from the fact that they actually have no record to stand on whatsoever in this district. ObamaCare is overwhelmingly unpopular throughout CD1, so is the other policies that she’s had supporting the President every single step of the way. This President is not popular in CD1. She has stated again and again that she will not second guess the President. Now if I had a record like that, I’d be afraid of my opponent as well. But that’s why she’s throwing out these lies and that’s why she’s going to lose.

Christopher Conover: And Mr. Martin, the Democrats have not attacked you as of yet that we know of. What does that say to you and does that concern you at all or how do you handle that, that they’re ignoring you?

Gaither Martin: No, it doesn’t concern me at all. We have a plan to reach out to as many people as we can throughout the district and we’re doing that on multiple levels in multiple ways and giving the people… educating voters so that they have an opportunity to choose who they would like to choose whether that’s in the early ballot that they’ve already gotten in their mail and is sitting on their counter and they’re getting ready to mail back in or whether when they go to the polls on August 28th. And so for me it’s an opportunity to keep moving and not having to deal with some of the flack that might be coming from that direction and really keep our campaign on track, stay focused, focused on the voters, focused on the needs of the constituents in CD1 and make sure that we give them the opportunity to make an educated choice when they do cast that ballot.

Christopher Conover: And Mr. Gatti, what does it mean to you, the fact that the Democrats aren’t coming out and attacking you?

Patrick Gatti: I think that’s wonderful. When they start attacking any one of us, they’re really trying to detract from the actual issues at hand and the issues at hand are jobs and economy. Throughout CD1 the only thing that we need to do, one thing that we need to do is we need to address the economy, we need to address those issues that will get jobs coming back to Arizona and if they don’t attack me, it doesn’t bother me one little bit. I’m not looking for a fight.

Andrea Kelly: One of the things you just mentioned is jobs and of course we’ve heard that from all of you along the campaign trail. So Mr. Martin, I’d like to hear some specifics, what can you do as a Congress person to get out of the economic crisis to create jobs?

Gaither Martin: Certainly. When you look at CD1, you can’t talk about jobs without talking about public land use issues and so when we are talking about the mines, the mine in Page, the two that are in Apache County, the one in Navajo County, there are coal run power plants. If you’re talking about the potash mines that they’re looking to put in Navajo and Apache Counties, if you’re looking at the water issues that we have here in the southern part of the district, you can’t talk about jobs without getting into public land, public land use and that means federal regulation. So as we look, as I look at my role as a congressman creating jobs is to do what I can to remove the regulatory barriers, the tax barriers that were put in place that are directly federally implemented and so we need to make sure that our… that local plants don’t have impediments from the EPA that cause them to have to put in $125 million in improvements and lay people off. That’s a travesty and so I think we all need to be wise stewards of the environment but we do have a large number of natural resources in our district and the people rely on those natural resources for jobs and the first thing that I would do is make sure that we continue to spurn that economy by allowing the small businesses to prosper and to rely on those natural resources and not have those federal roadblocks that are just there every step of the way, whether that’s the regulation tax, so on and so forth.

Andrea Kelly: Okay. And Mr. Gatti.

Patrick Gatti: Land management is something that we always have to be aware of and one of the things in our particular area is construction. I mean, construction has… we have people that are contractors that are doing room additions. Nothing wrong with room additions but if you’re used to building homes, generally it takes around 30 individuals to build a home. That’s a lot of people put to work in an industry that has gone to the wayside. I think that we have to take a look at what the EPA is doing. Last night on the news we had this one report about the floods that took place over in… back east. They ended up with a foot of sand on their property and they can’t grow anything. This is farmland. EPA would not let them put that sand back into the river from whence it came. Now how stupid is that. The EPA, like so many other federal agencies, needs to be done away with. It’s an impediment that’s preventing businesses from either opening up or expanding and that’s the key to getting jobs back is to get rid of some of these regulations that are preventing businesses from opening.

Andrea Kelly: And Mr. Paton, just to rephrase the question again. The question was specifically what can you do to bring jobs and change the economic situation in Congress?

Jonathan Paton: We just talked… you just heard for a moment about taxes and regulations and there’s one thing that I think has created more taxes, more regulation and more uncertainty in our economy than anything else and that has to be ObamaCare. And if we were to repeal ObamaCare, it would spur growth, it would spur jobs, it would do everything we could to bring this economy back online. Businesses right now, if you’re in Oro Valley, if you’re in Marana, if you are in this district, you are wondering how am I going to pay for new employees that come online. We don’t know how they’re going to do that because they’re facing one of the largest tax increases in U.S. history and that’s not me saying that, that’s the U.S. Supreme Court that’s saying that and they want to see this repealed. If we were to repeal it, I believe we’d be able to spur this economy, I believe we’d be able to create new jobs. Absolutely there’s regulations throughout the state. The biggest problem for any individual small business in this district or across Arizona is a little guy with a clipboard, the bureaucrat from Washington, DC that’s telling a small business no. You can’t do this, you can’t have this job, you can’t offer insurance the way you want to to your employees and that person needs to be stopped. We need to get rid of the regulations, we need to get rid of the taxes and that starts with getting rid of ObamaCare.

Christopher Conover: In every other forum that we have done so far, CD2, CD3, we’ve talked about the border because those are border districts. CD1, but for a few miles, is not a border district. You all start just north of the border. But obviously the border is an issue in Arizona and as a representative of Arizona in Congress you will have to deal with the border. So how do you solve this border problem and do you have any specific ideas and Mr. Gatti we will start with you on this.

Patrick Gatti: Well, we’ve discussed that many times. It’s an issue that comes up that needs to be addressed. I think the first, the first and primary thing that we have to do for the nation’s sake is we have to secure the border, we have to absolutely make it a non-porous avenue for individuals coming across into the United States, whether it be to come in as an illegal immigrant, whether it’s an individual from another country, it doesn’t have to be from Mexico or whether it’s because it’s drug trafficking. That border has to be absolutely secured. It can be secured with a double barrier if it’s necessary, if that’s deemed to be the way to stop it. It can also be addressed by putting additional troops on the border, if it means putting National Guard down on the border to augment the personnel that are there for the Border Patrol. The military has got drones. I think that whole border, the whole length of that border should be patrolled with drones and any other device that is necessary that will secure that border. Then we can begin to address what takes place with illegal immigration. 1980, Ronald Reagan has an amnesty program, millions of people were involved in that amnesty program. At that point, if the border had been secured, we would be in better shape because we would have an immigration policy that would be reasonable. I’m a first generation Italian. My relatives, I remember my relatives at one point were not allowed to come from Italy into the United States because they were putting a limitation on it. So we have to say, do we want more people into the United States. That’s a question that has to be answered at some level but I think first of all we need to secure the border.

Christopher Conover: Mr. Paton, same question. How do you solve the border?

Jonathan Paton: Well, I actually have some experience with this because I represented three border counties, I sponsored the Human Smuggling Statute in this state. That’s put over 4,000 human smugglers behind bars and I think that the first thing you do, and what we did when we were in the legislature, is I supported Senate Bill 1070 because I believe there has to be consequences for crossing that border illegally. The second thing is, is there’s one person in this country that hasn’t let us down and that’s the American soldier, sailor, airman and marine. We need to have the National Guard on the border and we need to give them the abilities to secure this border. The Arizona Cattle Growers Association came up with an 18 point plan, they wanted to put over 4,000 troops on our southern border. I think that the time for that is now. I think the President could do that tomorrow. He refuses to do it and the reason why he refuses to do it is because he’s basically supporting the open borders crowd that has consistently opposed this state every single step of the way in everything that we’ve tried to do to protect the citizens, protect… stop people from dying in the desert and to stop our economy from I guess straining under incarceration costs, under healthcare costs associated with illegal immigration.

Christopher Conover: And Mr. Martin, you get the last word on how we solve the border.

Gaither Martin: Definitely it’s a problem that has plagued Arizonan for some time and it’s a problem that’s going to take a process I believe in order to accomplish what we need to do to have that border be secure. So we do need to secure it. It’s a national security issue. It’s not an issue of one group of people against another. It’s a national security issue that if we don’t have a secure border then we don’t know who’s coming in, we don’t know who’s leaving and there are massive ramifications of that. So whether that’s a double layer fence which I do support, I think it’s a good idea, I think it’s a good start in securing our border but we need to make sure that our Border Patrol agents have the ability to do their jobs as well. Their hands are tied by some of the environmental constraints that are there along the border. Some of the groups won’t allow them to really patrol the border even when they do find bad guys. And so we need to get out of our own way but we need to secure that border first of all. In rural Arizona, in CD1, there are economic impacts from illegal immigration and I do believe that we need to have a worker visa program in place. Our farmers, the construction industries, others rely heavily on people who are willing to come and work at a lower wage than some already here in the country so I would support a worker visa program but it needs to be clear and concise, it needs to be run efficiently and if people overstay that visa, then they should be invited to leave. But at the same time, we need to have a process there so that we don’t continue to take our local economies in CD1 small businesses don’t continue to take hits from federal regulation.

Gaither Martin: But with that said I also think though you cannot give a legal path to citizenship for those who are here illegally. I think that would be a huge mistake and I would think that would be amnesty in my opinion. I think that’s an important point that we need to make and I don’t support that, I never have and I think that that would actually exacerbate the problem and it would give people the belief that they can break our laws and by coming into this country illegally without any consequences whatsoever.

Jonathan Paton: And giving people something for nothing is… you look at now for instance with… when we look at jobless benefits and people on welfare, even during Jimmy Carter’s time you had about one in 30 citizens were receiving benefits from the federal government. That number today is down to 1 in 9, whether that’s through unemployment or other benefits and so when we’re giving people something for nothing, we’re creating a society of dependents and whether that’s illegal immigration, whether that’s through other government benefits, people shouldn’t be receiving something for nothing.

Christopher Conover: Mr. Gatti, do you want to get in on this?

Patrick Gatti: All being said, I go back to what I said before. The only, the first thing that we have to do is secure the border. After we’ve secured the border, other discussion can take place. We have laws that are on the books right now about how to deal with illegal immigrants. Those laws need to be… needed to be adhered to and supported. First we have to secure the border. Then we can have the discussion about what we’re going to do with the immigrants that are here or the immigrants that are trying to get here.

Christopher Conover: We only have about two minutes left so I’ll ask you to keep this answer short and it’s probably one of those very broad, sounds simple questions but really isn’t. If you are the next representative from Congressional District 1, what’s the first bill you sponsor after getting sworn in and we’ll start with you, Mr. Martin and work our way around.

Gaither Martin: All right. Well, I will take Governor Romney up on his word and that is to repeal ObamaCare. There are massive ramifications to the economy, to our healthcare system by continuing to allow it to go forward. We need to be able to replace it with better legislation. You can go to my website, check out some of the things that we have on there, ideas of what we should do but we need to repeal it and we need to replace it and that’ll be the first order of business, that’s been Governor Romney’s commitment, that would be my commitment to the people of CD1.

Patrick Gatti: I would absolutely agree. I think that for sure CD1 in particular, there isn’t anyone that I’ve spoken to that has been in favor of the Affordable Healthcare Act as it’s put. I would… be the first thing I would vote for would be to repeal that law. And to replace it I think that, and unless one of us is a doctor and one of us knows what to do, I would have a board of doctors that would review what the ramifications are for what’s being passed to replace it.

Christopher Conover: Okay, Mr. Paton, you get the last word on this. You have about a minute.

Jonathan Paton: The first thing obviously is to repeal ObamaCare. We’ve discussed that at some length today and I think the second thing would be a measure that would say that the United States Congress should live under the laws that it creates for everybody else. I think those two, the first one is an immediate problem that we need to deal with. The second one is why Congress is so broken right now. They pass laws for the rest of the country that they don’t expect to live under themselves and I think that’s wrong.

Christopher Conover: Well, we have reached the end of our time. The three of you, thank you so much for coming in. To our viewers and listeners, in the coming weeks we’ll hear more from congressional candidates running in southern Arizona. It should be noted we invited the Democrats for Congressional District 1 to come in for a similar forum. So far we haven’t been able to resolve some scheduling conflicts. In the coming weeks, if you want to watch this forum again or get information on a variety of races affecting southern Arizona, be sure to visit the Your Vote 2012 section of our website, azpm.org. Thank you so much for tuning in and for Andrea Kelly, I’m Christopher Conover, Arizona Public Media.