Last night, Flagstaff hosted its first-ever gubernatorial forum on the campus of Northern Arizona University. As Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, seven candidates for the state’s highest office fielded a variety of questions collected from an online Gallup poll.
The economy, forest health, education, and the federal government’s role topped the extensive list of subjects. In attendance were all but two candidates currently vying for the governor’s office: four Republicans, one Democrat, one Libertarian and one member of Americans Elect.
Each candidate took part in a 15-minute interview with the moderator followed by a brief closing statement. Republican and Mesa Mayor Scott Smith recently received Governor Jan Brewer’s endorsement. He spoke with me after the event.
“Tourism is obviously important in northern Arizona, forest management is obviously important and then we have thriving businesses that surround the university here. I think we can leverage that business and leverage opportunities to keep students here, to create startups, innovation centers, other things that will help Flagstaff grow and prosper,” Smith said.
Republican candidate Christine Jones is the former executive vice president of tech startup GoDaddy.
“What really makes sense to me with a focus here in Flagstaff is life sciences and biotechnology and then alternative forms of energy, build up the industry concentration around that which is already here,” Jones said.
The race’s sole Democrat is Arizona businessman and former regent Fred DuVal.
“We need to reintroduce ourselves to the rest of the country as a place of inclusion, get away from these 1070 and 1062 kind of politics — a place that’s growing in terms of its business climate, that supports business growth and is investing in education,” DuVal said.
The Flagstaff forum was the second to last event in the race before the primary election Tue, Aug. 26.