The Arizona Republic asked 5th Congressional District candidates Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., Democrat Javier Ramos and independent Clint Smith questions about policy issues such as water rights, the war in Ukraine, and the district's local needs.
The answers, which were submitted in writing, are ordered alphabetically below.
Arizona is facing massive cuts in its water rights from the Colorado River after decades of drought. What, if anything, should Congress do to manage this issue for the state?
Biggs: The serious water issues facing Arizona and many communities in the Fifth District will require all parties — Democrat and Republican, federal, state, and local — to work together. In 2019, I worked with our delegation to pass into law the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan Authorization Act introduced by Congressman Raúl Grijalva, which established new water conservation measures to protect the reservoirs at Lake Mead and Lake Powell. This bipartisanship and leadership must continue.
I recently hosted a roundtable with officials from Arizona Department of Water Resources, Pinal County, Central Arizona Project, and Arizona Farm Bureau to discuss the realities of our limited water, the studies done on our future needs, and the many proposals to secure our future supply. And I meet regularly with local legislators and city officials to hear how their jurisdictions are responding.
Every idea is worth considering. Some of mine include negotiating with Mexico on a desalinization plant that could reduce Mexico’s reliance on the Colorado River; moving water from eastern portions of the country to the west; and supporting Arizona’s efforts to work with California on wastewater recycling to reduce California’s reliance on the river.
As our Arizona communities continue to grow, I am committed to working with our delegation on innovative solutions that address our water supply.
Ramos: Federal funding for the Drought Contingency Plan, and immediate prioritization of water conservation, desalination, and effective water infrastructure
Effective planning starts with pragmatism. Allocations were always based on flow estimates that were unrealistically optimistic, and now climate change is reducing availability. We need federal investment in conservation, a pragmatic re-evaluation of each state’s allocation consistent with projected availability, and we need to evaluate additional sources like desalinization.
Smith: It’s a sad fact that we’ve arrived at this moment when we have known for decades that the Colorado River was in trouble. While I applaud the leadership of Congressman Greg Stanton, Senator Mark Kelly, and the Arizona delegation in getting the Drought Contingency Plan done, we still have so much more to do. Congress can invest in new water efficiency technologies and infrastructure to ensure Arizona’s long term water security. Additionally, we cannot forget how much the American Southwest relies on hydro-electric power for its grid. We should be making rapid, immediate investments in alternative sources of sustainable energy to prevent blackouts.
What are two things you most want Congress to do to impact immigration and our border security in the U.S.?
Biggs: The open southern border has created a humanitarian and national security crisis. Since taking office, President Biden allowed nearly 5 million illegal aliens to enter the United States. Human and drug trafficking runs rampant, crime in our border communities has intensified, and we’re reeling from the devastating number of illegal substances flooding every state in the nation.
Congress must hold President Biden and his administration accountable for the policies they have implemented that have directly caused this crisis, including stopping construction of the border fence, ending the Remain in Mexico program, and releasing aliens into the interior of the country even when their detention is required by law.
Congress must also pass legislation to close the loopholes that are being exploited by the Biden administration. I introduced the Stopping Border Surges Act to close these gaps and look forward to working with my colleagues to pass it into law.
Ramos: Pragmatism instead of politics. We need increased funding for enforcement and processing of legally made asylum claims.
Build a pathway for citizenship for deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA)
Smith: First, members of Congress need to stop using the border as a political tool for their re-election campaigns. Let’s quit with the statements and the ads of walking along the border looking and sounding tough. If our leaders are serious about border security they should be investing in modern technology for Border Patrol and modernizing infrastructure at our ports of entry to make them more economically efficient.
What is your district’s biggest unmet need? What would you do to address it?
Biggs: The Fifth District — and every District around the country — needs a federal government that adheres to the Constitution and ends the unnecessary, unconstitutional, heavy-handed mandates that it has imposed. Our Founders intended for the federal government to be small, to deal only with the responsibilities outlined in the Constitution, and for States to have discretion over all other areas. Every time I vote in Congress, I consider whether the bill at hand is constitutional, whether it is good for the country, and whether we can afford to carry it out. I will continue on this same path, informing my constituents of each decision I make.
Ramos: Federal funding to support a 100-year water supply for Arizona. The drought is real. Year after year of reduced supply is real. Increasing demand from our growing state is real. We must pragmatically revisit water allocations, invest in conservation, and consider alternate sources.
Smith: True representation in Congress. I firmly believe the majority of people in CD-5 did not support Biggs’ efforts to attempt to overthrow our democracy and would prefer they have a representative, like me, who’s actually working to make their lives better.
After the Supreme Court’s ruling on abortion rights, what, if anything, should Congress do on this issue?
Biggs: I agree with the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs that sent the abortion question back to the states. I will always fight to protect life at every level.
Ramos: I will support and defend a woman’s right to choose. I will introduce legislation to codify Roe v Wade.
Smith: There is no place for the government in decisions made between a woman and her doctor. I will support a proposal by Congress that restores that freedom to women and their families.
What can Congress do now to help Arizona’s economy and Arizonans struggling economically?
Biggs: The biggest impacts on Arizona’s economy are the rampant rise in inflation and the federal government’s irresponsible spending. It is now estimated that inflation is costing Americans an additional $600 per month as the cost of groceries, energy, cars, and more have increased. To fix this, we must expand American energy production in the United States, lower government spending, reduce the tax burden on hard-working Americans, and get government out of the way.
Ramos: Support our local businesses, like through the CHIPS and Science Act
Further reduce medical costs, build upon the Inflation Reduction Act and ACA
Cut taxes for working class Americans, and increase the child tax credit. Over the last two years, we’ve proven we can reduce the tax burden for the middle class and stimulate growth that reduces the federal deficit. We MUST do more of this!
Bold, effective infrastructure projects bringing jobs to the East Valley — American dollars for American Jobs for American workers
Federal funding for technical worker training — build the 21st century workforce here with our public institutions
Smith: The Inflation Reduction Act, that was passed through the moderate and bi-partisan leadership of Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, was a great first step. We can do even more though like putting a freeze on the gas tax to make sure that gas prices never climb to the heights they were at a few months ago. We also MUST do more to help Arizona employers and job-seeking Arizonans connect. I talk to small business owners and large company executives and all say the same thing, they are struggling to find workers.
Are you in favor of continued U.S. support of Ukraine in its war with Russia? Why or why not?
Biggs: No. We should use an America First approach to our foreign policy, ensuring we have a national interest before committing our troops or our resources in any conflict. Doing so will prevent war hawk politicians from making rash decisions based on heightened emotion and committing American lives to every corner of the world. We must also ensure that Congress — rather than the President — decides when the United States sends troops into conflict, as is required by the U.S. Constitution. I co-founded the bipartisan War Power Caucus with these two goals in mind. Maintaining peace around the world requires bold leadership, military strength, and commitment to our national interests.
Ramos: I support the brave people of Ukraine. America is the shining city on a hill, a beacon of hope against the darkness of totalitarianism. We should stand up for our democratic allies when they ask for our aid in times of need. We cannot be the world’s police, but we must also recognize that this aggression will not stop with Ukraine.
Smith: Yes. Unlike Congressman Biggs, I believe in supporting democracies like Ukraine against would-be fascists like Vladimir Putin.
The FBI raided former President Donald Trump’s residence after he repeatedly failed to turn over hundreds of pages of government documents, including top-secret information. What should happen as a result of this?
Biggs: The American people should demand full transparency from the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation on this unprecedented raid. We still don’t know the full justification for the raid, have a full record of what was seized, or have a clear picture of whether any documents had been declassified under the President’s statutory authority.
We do know, however, that both the FBI and the DOJ have a long record of politically biased behavior, and more recently, records of doctoring information and lying to a federal judge to get a warrant. This is unacceptable, and only full transparency and accountability will remedy it.
Ramos: We need to let our justice system work. No one is above the law, everyone should be presumed innocent until proven otherwise, politics has no place in the justice system, violence has no place in our politics, and we need to hold accountable anyone and everyone that is playing politics or inciting violence when the stakes involve our national security and threats against law enforcement personnel.
Smith: No one is above the law and those who break it must be held accountable. Even former Presidents.
What policy issue OR what personally distinguishes you most from your opponent?
Biggs: I have a proven record of upholding the promises I made to my Fifth District constituents when they elected me in 2016, 2018, and 2020. I swore that I would uphold the core tenants of the Constitution and have done so even when it was unpopular among my colleagues. I’ve clearly explained my positions to my constituents, so they know where I stand on every issue.
I also have a proven record of leadership in Congress. I have worked across the aisle to pass four bills into law with bipartisan support. I have also been selected to lead diverse and bipartisan caucuses, ensuring the communities I represent will always have a seat at the table. I served two years as Chairman of the House Freedom Caucus advocating for sound constitutional policies; founded the bipartisan War Powers Caucus to restore Congress’s role as the decisionmaker when sending troops to war; serve as Co-Chairman of the Border Security Caucus, through which I’ve taken more than 45 Members of Congress to the southern border; and am Vice Chairman of the Western Caucus. I also serve as the Ranking Member on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, pushing back on Democrats’ radical agenda to defund police and endanger our communities.
My wife and I have lived in Gilbert and have been active members of this community for 35 years, including as I represented the Fifth District for the last 6 years.
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Ramos: Pragmatism. Building an Arizona for All must include the infrastructure investments required to deal with our state’s growth and our dwindling water supply. My opponent’s voting record is clear; he votes NO to the investments we need. He refuses to collaborate or negotiate for the benefit of our district. I have a track record of supporting and driving infrastructure projects and voting rights. Ideology doesn’t improve our lives. The citizens of AZ-CD5 deserve a voice in Congress that will speak for them and will deliver results through leadership and compromise. I have a long career of breaking through stalemates in tough negotiations. I may disagree with my Republican colleagues on policy, but I can, and I will, work with them to advance our community’s interests with regard to our water supply, our border, privacy rights, voting rights, election integrity, gun violence, our national security, and our economy.
Smith: I don’t think there can be a sharper contrast between myself and Congressman Biggs. He actively worked to bring down our democracy and focuses on dividing us in a time where we should be coming together to support each other. I’ll work to bring people together from all across the ideological and political spectrum to solve the problems that we all face and compromise on the issues where we might start further apart. My other opponent, Javier Ramos who seems like a perfectly good person, has not run a very visible campaign so it’s tough for me to draw contrast lines with him.
The Phoenix area has been a hot spot for inflation in the U.S. and Arizonans have felt the effects of rapidly rising prices for more than a year. What specific steps by Congress do you think would be most effective in bringing down inflation?
Biggs: Every American should be fed up with inflation as it was self-inflicted by irresponsible government spending. Congress must stop spending to slow the devaluation of our currency, regain our energy independence to reduce the cost of goods, and lower the tax burden so Americans can keep more of their own money in their pockets.
Ramos: Health care — I would support legislation to reduce the burden medical costs have on families and seniors, building upon the Inflation Reduction Act and ACA. We need to increase cost transparency, expand large-scale price negotiation, ensure markets are competitive, and implement price caps where there is minimum impact to R&D (e.g., insulin).
Energy — Continue an all-source approach to energy, while protecting our water and air, building upon the Inflation Reduction Act incentives to continue transitioning to clean energy. Arizona must be a leader in tomorrow’s energy industry.
Consumer protection — Identify market inefficiencies where consumers are not protected from monopolies and where the government can better foster competition without sacrificing regulation (e.g., meat processing) including going beyond just opening up to foreign producers (e.g., baby formula). We should have growing, competitive, and safe domestic manufacturing industries for essential goods like formula, semiconductors, medicine and medical supplies.
Trade — Make it easier and cheaper for goods to reach Arizona — fully fund the Mesa Gateway Airport to make it a trading hub between Canada and Mexico. Make it easier and cheaper for goods to reach our shores, building upon the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022 which re-regulates ocean shipping to reduce constraints at our ports and reduce prices. A significant driver of the inflation pain we are all feeling is the recovery of supply chains that have, for too long, relentlessly invested in leanness rather than robustness. We need to invest in supply chain resilience, and we need Arizona companies to be part of that investment.
Immigration — An inefficient and ineffective immigration system drives inflation, taxes law enforcement, and foments unrest. We must secure the funding to secure our border, to fulfill our legal obligations to process asylum claims, and to meet the labor demands of agriculture and industry. We are the shining city on the hill. We should not be surprised that people want to come here, and we should be ashamed of the way we treat many of them when they arrive. Adequately funding our border would be far less expensive than continuing to pay for the consequences of an overwhelmed border.
Smith: Immediately, we should reverse the Trump-era tariffs that have raised costs on many goods that Arizonans use and enjoy. Those tariffs, rather than having their intended effect of empowering American manufacturers, are simply raising the costs of production and consumptions for all of us.
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: 5th District in Arizona: Andy Biggs, Clint Smith, Javier Ramos