The Yuma Chamber of Commerce hosted a candidate forum Thursday. Thirteen candidates for the state Senate and House of Representatives attended the forum at the Yuma Civic Center.
The candidates each answered four questions that were pre-selected from the chamber's board of directors and event sponsors.
Questions addressed topics like water, trade with Mexico, recruting higher skilled workers into rural Arizona, immigration reform and Medicaid. Candidates were allowed to object to another participant's comments on a particular issue.
Candidates said they welcomed the opportunity for voters to hear directly from them.
"It's so critically important that voters are informed and get to meet us," said Sine Kerr, the incumbent Republican state senator for District 13. "It was a great forum. I enjoyed the format."
Education funding was one issue that had both sides going back and forth. Debate focused on the best policies to increase teacher pay and other issues highlighted by the Red For Ed movement and supporters of the Invest in Ed ballot initiative.
"It is imperative that all schools in Arizona are well-funded," said Lisa Otondo, the Democratic state senator in District 4, who is running unopposed. "Teacher pay is still well below neighboring states. The funding formula needs to be reviewed."
Event organizers said the forum sold out with more than 200 people in attendance.
"The questions came from voters directly," said John Courtis, the chamber's executive director. "We talked about issues important to Yuma County. The fact that all 13 candidates attended shows that they realize Yuma is important to the election."
The candidates in attendance were:
Lisa Otondo (incumbent, running unopposed)
Charlene Fernandez (incumbent)
Gerae Peten (incumbent)
Sara Mae Williams
Sine Kerr (incumbent)
Tim Dunn (incumbent)
Darin Mitchell (incumbent)
Be sure to listen to KAWC 88.9 FM and visit KAWC.org and our social media pages on Facebook and Twitter for more coverage of these and other candidates today and through the primary and general elections.