Five out of seven Republican candidates vying for Arizona’s newest congressional seat for District 9 kept the final debate in the primary election civil in Ahwatukee Foothills on Thursday night.

Candidates of the newly formed district answered questions on a non-traditional route; from voters.

Though it was the last public forum for candidates to speak to voters, Martin Sepulveda and Vernon Parker did not attend.

Moderated by Susan Bitter-Smith and Ed Phillips, hot issues brought to the table included the national deficit, illegal immigration, small businesses, and across the board spending cuts.

Concerning the budget, all candidates wanted to see cuts in spending.

Wendy Rogers, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel and small business owner, said national sequestration is “another word for cutting defense.”

“We cannot hold national security at risk,” Rogers said.

Travis Grantham, another candidate in Congressional District 9, said that he is a fan of consumption-based tax, as he deems flat taxes to be “unconstitutional.”

Moving on to what moderator Phillips called the “800-pound gorilla in the room” that is illegal immigration, candidate Jeff Thompson made his stance clear.

“There is a price to pay for being an American. It’s not free, if you’re here illegally and have a criminal record, you’re going to be deported,” Thompson said.

Held at Pecos Community Center, the debate attracted a humble audience of about 50 community members from both parties.

The debate was the last of the primary election, where the winner of the Aug. 28 Republican primary will go up against the Democrat winner.

Candidates for CD9 in the Republican primary include Thompson, Grantham, Rogers, Parker, Sepulveda, Lisa Borowsky, and Leah Campos Schandlbauer.

CD9 serves all of Ahwatukee Foothills, Tempe, Chandler, Mesa, Scottsdale, and Fountain Hills.

• Diana Martinez is freelancing this summer for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. Reach her at thedianamartinez@gmail.com.

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