By Bill Hess
SIERRA VISTA — Calling her Saturday afternoon talk at the Cochise County Republican Committee headquarters a job interview, Martha McSally said, “I’m applying for a job to represent you.”
In the room were more than 40 people who heard the retired Air Force colonel say “I have a fire in my belly” and that flame is to become the person who fills former Democratic U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Congressional District 8 seat in the House of Representatives and to continue on to seek the new CD2 seat.
Giffords resigned her seat in January, slightly more than a year after being critically wounded when she was shot in the head at a Tucson event.
Under redistricting, Arizona received a ninth House of Representative seat, which becomes CD8 and will consist all of Cochise County, as CD8 does.
Calling the federal government atmosphere toxic, McSally said the American public want new leadership and ideas.
“The toxicity in the political sphere has a lot of people turned off,” she said.
The United States is at a crossroads and there is a need to have people in Washington, D.C., who can pull the country out of the crisis, McSally said.
“The federal government is a little out of control. We need to rein the federal government in,” she said.
The issues facing the nation, at all levels within the United States and throughout the world is causing “a national security threat” to the people of the nation, McSally said.
There is no separation by the turmoil created by the Arab Spring, a nuclear Iran as well as growing problems with Russia and China, she said.
While she has never held any political office, McSally said she has had time working in Congress — she was a legislative fellow who worked for Arizona GOP Sen. Jon Kyl.
That experience gave her an inside look at how the federal government works on many levels, she said.
But when it comes to members of the House of Representatives, the issues are extremely local in nature, McSally remarked.
The economic woes range from local to international and all have to be addressed, she said.
When it comes to the Sierra Vista area the unemployment rate is below 5 percent and that is good, but there are areas in Cochise County which are not as fortunate, McSally said.
Fortunately, the military has a major impact on the local communities, she said.
“Fort Huachuca is Sierra Vista and Sierra Vista is Fort Huachuca,” McSally said.
And, she said she understands the water issues some conservationist bring up as potential problem in any future Base Realignment and Closure Commission process.
The Center for Biological Diversity is using a fake issue that there isn’t enough water flowing in the San Pedro River to ensure the Huachuca water umbel survives, which McSally calls unrealistic.
The last Republican to enter the race in January, McSally will be facing three other Republicans seeking the party’s nod to be the GOP candidate in the special primary for the CD8 race on April 17. The others are State Sen. Frank Antenori, Jesse Kelly and Dave Sitton.
The GOP winner will face Democrat Ron Barber, who was Giffords’ district manager and who also was shot on Jan. 8, 2011, and Green Party candidate Charlie Manolakis, both of whom have no primary competition.
The special general election to fill the unexpired term will take place on June 12.
Promising she will answer questions and “not give you a 7-second sound bite,” she said the 2012 election is extremely critical as the two major parties fight for control of the country’s soul
When she opened the meet and greet to questions from the audience, the majority of the concerns were about border security.
“The federal government has not had the political will” to address the issue, McSally said.
The technology to secure the border exists, the desire of the people, especially those who live along the border exists, but the federal government has ignored its responsibilities, she said.
Noting that the United States is concerned about the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan and other international boundaries, McSally said she finds it unbelievable that emphasis on the Pakistan/Afghan border “which is 11 and a half time zones away” is more important than the problems facing America’s security south of the country.
However, when she said the United States military has to partner with the Mexican military, a number of people in the audience cried out “no.”
To that issue, McSally noted the U.S. government is partnering with other countries as part of the country’s overall security and said she believes a working procedure to support Mexico in its continuing horrific fight against the cartels but not supporting the corrupt police forces — “the military is not as corrupt” — because more than 50,000 Mexicans have been murdered by cartels to the detriment of that nation and the United States, she said.
Border security is a prime problem the U.S. has to face and one the Mexican government has to as well, she said.
On other national issues, McSally noted:
• The complex U.S. tax code has to be simplified and to reduce taxes to the lowest level possible.In response to some social issue questions, McSally said “I am pro-life” and she also believes marriage is between a woman and a man.
• The U.S. debt is “a national security issue” with 47 percent of it held by other nations, of which 12 percent is held by China.
• Greece must be seen as an example of unwise economic decisions which have to be countered now not later because “we don’t want to be where Greece is now in 10 years.”
But, her main theme of her meet in greet was: “Our nation is at the crossroads. Washington, D.C. is in crisis.”