Five Republican candidates vying for Congressional District 9 squared off in Ahwatukee Foothills Tuesday night focusing on Senate Bill 1070, the role of government, health care and attracting independent voters.

Each of the candidates agreed that the role of government is to protect rights and then step out of the way, including when it comes to health care. Martin Sepulveda, Travis Grantham and Wendy Rogers each said as business owners it would help them if the government had less regulation.

“I’m an employer and I’ve provided health care for my employees,” Grantham said. “As a business owner I don’t get to write off any of my taxable income. I’ve paid 100 percent of my employee’s health care coverage. I’m proud to do it. It’s costing my company tens of thousands a month and it has gone up under Obamacare... It’s unconstitutional and needs to be repealed.”

Leah Campos Schandlbauer and Vernon Parker said they would reduce the federal government’s regulation by getting rid of unnecessary departments like the Department of Education and the Environmental Protection Agency.

“The over regulations just serve the purpose of killing jobs and stifling innovation and creativity, which is the lifeblood of our country,” Campos Schandlbauer said.

The candidates also agreed that SB 1070 should be upheld and that immigration reform is necessary.

“We need to look at it as a matter of national security and not allow the left to frame the conversation as the poor family looking for a better life in America,” Rogers said. “That’s not the threat.”

When it comes to building a coalition to get things done or attracting independent voters, the candidates said they would follow the example of representatives like David Schweikert and Sen. Jon Kyl and treat people with respect, listen, and apply reasonable decision making.

“It’s teamwork that gets the job done,” Sepulveda said. “You’ve got to be respectful and you’ve got to listen. Once you listen you’ve got to decide on the best course of action. Communicate that course of action and execute that course of action.”

While the candidates did not take any shots at each other, they did criticize President Barack Obama and the Democrat candidates running for CD9.

“I think the question to Independents and all Americans is, ‘Are your gas prices lower than they were four years ago?’” Parker said. “We have seen so many atrocities with this administration… I think the most important thing I would say to them is, ‘Do you really want Kyrsten Sinema in Congress? Do you really want Andrei Cherny in Congress?’ No, we don’t. That is one of the biggest reasons I’m running. We don’t need Kyrsten Sinema in Congress, but more importantly we must get back to the basics of this country.”

The forum was hosted by the Ahwatukee Republican Women and moderated by Mike Broomhead of 550 KFYI.

The Democratic candidates vying for CD 9 include Andrei Cherny, David Schapira and Kyrsten Sinema.

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