David Brill is a retired VA doctor, entrepreneur, and teacher, who says four term Congressman Paul Gosar has neglected his constituents by focusing on shrinking government instead of putting it to work for the 4th Congressional district’s largely rural population.
The Prescott Democrat says rural Arizona needs high speed internet, improved infrastructure, and help recruiting quality teachers. His goal is to make sure the state’s rural areas and communities keep pace with larger, more urban areas.
On a recent visit to Yuma, Dr. Brill met with local growers and business owners, who, he says, taught him a lot about their workforce challenges.
“They absolutely need commuter visas. Lots of them. So that people can cross the border every day and go back home to their families at night,” he says.
Brill’s takeaway was that growers need enough visas to guarantee a dependable pool of workers. Growers also told Brill those visas should be granted for an extended period - three years of more - allowing them to plan ahead and cultivate the labor force. Brill says growers are also burdened by a requirement to house migrant workers during the season. In a region so close to the U.S.-Mexico border, and an existing pool of workers, Brills says “that just doesn’t make sense.”
Brill says members of Congress should solve problems with visas or housing policy before they resort to building a physical wall along the border.
“The more we solve out immigration policies, the less we need a wall on any border,” he says. “It’s not rocket science. We can do it.”
The bigger challenge, says Brill, is ensuring prosperity and progress across Arizona’s 4th Congressional District. The district includes parts of eight Arizona counties but one of the largest, and the poorest, is La Paz County north of Yuma.
Surrounded by federal and tribal land, communities struggle with a small tax base and nowhere to grow. A recent land conveyance bill that passed a U.S. House committee has the bi-partisan support of Congressman Gosar and U.S. Senate candidate, and current Democratic Congresswoman, Kyrsten Sinema. It would transfer over 8000 acres of federal land to La Paz County for a solar energy facility.
Brill supports the conveyance, but says he has a different view of federal land than Congressman Gosar. Brill says federal land belongs to everyone. Conveying some to a municipality makes sense but transferring land for the purpose of rewarding, or supplementing, a business or other entity doesn’t. Brill supports the expansion of solar in the state but would like to see more rooftop solar owned by residents, who could then buy and sell their surplus electricity to their neighbors.
“Let them get off the grid if they want to. I think we need fewer major, large installations and grids to export power,” he says.
Like electricity, Brill thinks water also should be managed better in the state. Saying the state is in “water bankruptcy,” Brill says the state needs to do a better job of conserving water. He says Tucson and CD4 community, Clarkdale, have managed water well. “Phoenix, less so. Phoenix needs to up its game on conservation and then maybe we can talk about conveying [more] Colorado River water to the Phoenix area,” Brill says.
Switching focus to four-term incumbent Paul Gosar, Brill acknowledges that the Prescott dentist enjoys big support across the district. Gosar won his last two elections with over 60 percent of the vote. But Brill says Gosar did that by outspending his opponents 20 to one. Brill says polling by his campaign shows Gosar is more unpopular than he is popular. Brill sees opportunity in those numbers.
“Our district has basically been neglected. We have a Congressman who has felt it is his job to shrink the federal government to a smaller size and that means neglecting the district,” he says.
One example, says Brill, is high speed internet. Brill thinks the federal government should incentivize providers to cover areas they see no profit in serving. Brill says Gosar has said it is not his job to help rural areas get high speed internet. Brill disagrees.
“So, these are things where the federal government is supposed to help out, to level the playing field between rural and urban communities. We are rural. We need help with infrastructure. Our congressman has not given it,” says Brill.
Brill’s belief is that high speed internet in rural Arizona would facilitate better medical care, small-business growth, teacher recruitment, and more. Citing his efforts to recruit rural Arizona employees for the VA, Brill says it can be challenging.
“You need to have student loan forgiveness,” he says, “for instance for teachers and doctors, if you’re going to bring them out to rural areas. You’ve got to do it. And who’s going to do it? Is the state going to do it? Is the municipality going to do it? I don’t think so. We need to have federal equalization of the playing field between rural and urban areas across the nation.”
Brill faces nurse, Delina DeSanto, and write-in candidate Ana Maria Perez in the Democratic primary on August 28. The winner will face Congressman Paul Gosar in the general election on November 6. Gosar is running unopposed in the Republican primary and is seeking his fifth term.