Greg Stanton and Kelly Cooper: US House rivals on inflation, border

Greg Stanton and Kelly Cooper, candidates for Arizona's 4th congressional district.
Greg Stanton and Kelly Cooper, candidates for Arizona's 4th congressional district.

The Arizona Republic asked Rep. Greg Stanton, D-Ariz., and Republican challenger Kelly Cooper questions about policy issues such as water rights and the war in Ukraine and about specific constituent needs in Arizona's 4th Congressional District.

Below are Stanton's and Cooper's responses, which were submitted in writing. The story has been updated to include Cooper, who initially did not respond.

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?

Stanton: The Colorado River is one of Arizona’s most important sources of water — and the sustained drought and changes in our climate have turned its future viability into a crisis. We must take bold steps to avoid catastrophe.

I have continued to be a leading voice and advocate for saving the Colorado River system. This summer, I authored — and passed through the House — a bill to provide $500 million to protect water levels at Lake Mead and Lake Powell, and also voted to approve $4 billion in drought relief efforts in the Inflation Reduction Act. In 2019, I led efforts to pass the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan Authorization Act — and helped secure more than $350 million to implement it.

Today, to save the Colorado River system, the most pressing need for states that rely on the river’s water to agree to make the significant cuts in the water we take from it. Any workable agreement must be equitable and so far, Arizona and Nevada have offered to do their part. Unfortunately, California is using more of the river’s water than in the past. That’s unacceptable. If our states cannot reach an agreement on their own, the Department of the Interior must step in and use its authority to save the river.

Cooper: The federal government will impose new cuts to Arizona's water supply beginning in January. The reduction of 21% will hurt all Colorado Basin States, but Arizona will see one of the most significant cuts. Arizona will lose almost 600,000 acre-feet of water in 2023. However, California will have no cuts. When I am elected to Congress, this unequal water supply treatment needs to stop. With multiple States requiring water from the Colorado River, we need strong leaders in Congress who will fight for Arizona's Water Rights. What incentive does California have to take better care of its water resources when they continue to receive the same supply during this unprecedented drought? Congress can create funding opportunities through loan or block grant programs for new water cleansing technologies in conjunction with desalination that can be piloted in Arizona ASAP. We need to set up pilot programs through federal and state grants to prove the efficacy of the best of those technologies and work to develop a robust water industry in Arizona.

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What are two things you most want Congress to do to impact immigration or border security in the U.S.?

Stanton: The most important thing Washington needs to do is stop treating immigration reform and border security like a political football. We know the solutions that will work — and they are broadly supported by the American people. But too many are focused on using immigration and the border to divide us rather than make progress.

To reach a lasting solution, we must modernize our immigration law in a way that strengthens our economy and keeps families together — that includes the American Dream and Promise Act. And we must reform and fund our immigration courts so that they work quickly and fairly. It’s unacceptable, for example, that it takes years for the courts to adjudicate an asylum case.

We also know that our border must be secure — and if it isn’t Arizona communities pay the price. In Congress, I supported the largest border security bill in our history and have pushed to give law enforcement the tools it needs to stop dangerous drugs from being trafficked across the border. With new tools and technology, our Customs officers have been able to stop drugs in record numbers. But still too many families have lost loved ones to opioids, which is why I’ve introduced the bipartisan Stop Pills That Kill Act to deter drug traffickers and strengthen the nationwide fight against deadly synthetic fentanyl by implementing harsh new penalties for counterfeit pill production.

Cooper: The humanitarian crisis at the border is unacceptable; we must finish the wall and hire thousands more border agents to help secure our border and stop incentivizing millions a year to migrate with no controls. Communities like Yuma  do not have the infrastructure to handle the hundreds of thousands of migrants crossing into our country.

Unlike my opponent, who voted to eliminate title 42 and numerous additional votes on the record the past two years that allow open borders to continue. I will support our local communities by bringing back common sense human policies to our border policies. As a country, under both Republican and Democrat administrations, we had policies in place to more adequately process those seeking asylum and deported those who would harm our country. I will never criticize those seeking a better life, but we are not providing a path to a better life with no policies in place.

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What is your district’s biggest unmet need? What would you do to address it? 

Stanton: One of Arizona’s — and the district’s — most long-standing needs is sustained infrastructure investment to secure our water supply and strengthen our economy. I’ve delivered for Arizona, and I’ll continue to do so.

When I learned that Arizona was the only state in the Southwest that did not have a dedicated federal environmental infrastructure authority, I worked to fix that — writing a bill to create a new $150 million infrastructure fund, navigating it through the committee, both the House and Senate, and eventually earning President Trump’s signature. In just two years, the authority has funded 16 projects to better use and manage water throughout Arizona.

I’ve secured help for important water projects in the East Valley as well. This year, I worked to include the authorization of $37.5 million to reopen and improve the Kyrene Water Reclamation Facility — which had been closed since the Great Recession. Reopening this plant will help Tempe better use recycled water and recharge groundwater for the future. Additionally, I secured the authorization of $18.75 million to replace aging infrastructure at the Ocotillo Water Reclamation Facility in Chandler. And another East Valley project: Funds to support Chandler’s new water interconnect facility that will help Intel create nearly 10,000 new jobs in the East Valley. Water security is economic security.

Water infrastructure isn’t the only kind we need, though.

I’ve worked to deliver more resources to Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport because of its ability to help create good local jobs — and was successful in securing more than $14 million to build a new terminal and $10 million for the new air traffic control tower. I pushed hard for new infrastructure investment through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which is delivering more than $176 million for Arizona’s transit agencies and $72 million for the state’s airports this year alone.

I’ll continue to advocate for these essential investments — for water, for our roadways and highways, transit corridors and airports — because I know they make the difference for Arizona’s economic future.

Cooper: There are two significant issues affecting our district. Inflation continues to be a significant issue. The cost of food, gas, and housing is directly related to the votes my opponent made to spend trillions of dollars we have to borrow that directly caused the highest inflation rates since the 1970s. We need to get our spending under control and fix the supply chain, so our communities are protected. Our district is dealing with a significant increase in lethal drugs. A few weeks ago, Immigration and Customs Enforcement seized over 35 pounds of fentanyl in downtown Chandler. We must ensure that our communities and our most vulnerable, especially our children, are protected from this. It is one of the most tragic consequences of open border policies my opponent has consistently voted to support

After the Supreme Court’s ruling on abortion rights, what, if anything, should Congress do on this issue?

Stanton: I strongly support reproductive rights, including the right to choose an abortion. In Congress, I voted in favor of the Women’s Health Reproduction Act, which makes the rights recognized in Roe v. Wade the law of the land. As the Supreme Court rolls back protections, it’s essential that Congress secure reproductive freedoms.

Cooper: This is not an issue for Congress to resolve. I have always said this should have been a state issue to resolve. With the Supreme Court decision, it was made clear that is the process. I have always been pro-life, but I also believe exceptions should be included by state leaders.

What can Congress do now to help Arizona’s economy and Arizonans struggling economically?

Stanton: Even with a low unemployment rate, I know many Arizonans are struggling — which is why I’m working to cut costs on essential items and help build a stronger economy with good jobs for the future.

One of the votes I’m most proud of was just this summer — to finally allow Medicare to negotiate with drug companies for lower drug prices. It will cap prescription drugs costs at $2,000 for thousands of seniors in the district and save Arizonans millions of dollars each year.

Through the Inflation Reduction Act, we are saving Arizonans tens of millions of dollars on health insurance premiums by extending important Affordable Care Act tax credits that were set to expire this year. Under the new law, the average enrollee is expected to save an average of $1,500 in premiums.

Of course, the best solution is creating a long-term economy with good jobs that can support middle class families — and those working their way into the middle class.

Just a few months ago, we passed one of the most important economic investments in decades: The CHIPS Act, which makes an unprecedented investment in manufacturing semiconductors here in the United States instead of overseas.

Thanks to years of hard work and investment in the growing high-tech, advanced manufacturing sector, no state stands to benefit more from the bill than Arizona — and it will help create thousands of jobs in the East Valley attract new investment. Not just with the semiconductor manufacturers themselves, but for suppliers and the hundreds of other local small businesses that work with them.

Cooper: Congress needs to stop spending at unprecedented levels and focus on less regulation and lower tax rates. The State of Arizona enacted low regulation and tax policies over the last decade that attracted the semiconductor industry to expand in our state. We can take a page from that playbook to continue to attract high-paying jobs to our state. My opponent wants to take credit for helping Arizona's economy, but he continues to vote to increase taxes and spend more taxpayer money that does not slow down inflation. Even when the nation’s leading economist wrote a letter telling them their votes will force inflation higher and will lead to the economic recession we are already in. When he was Mayor, he never met a tax increase he did not like, including a new food tax that affected the poor in our communities.

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Are you in favor of continued U.S. support of Ukraine in its war with Russia? Why or why not?

Stanton: Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine is about more than one country — it’s an attack on the post-Cold War order in Europe. Allowing Putin to freely annex Ukraine with no consequence would be disastrous — and only guarantee that he or others like him would engage in this kind of aggressive and unacceptable behavior again.

Putin’s war isn’t going as well for him as he’d hoped. Ukraine is retaking key areas and has put up a valiant effort against a much larger army. That is in large part because of our nation’s help — providing the Ukrainian military with the weapons they need to fight back against invading tanks as well as anti-aircraft and anti-armor systems and more.  Without the help of the United States and other nations, it would be a much different story.

Some in our country prefer that we back down from Putin, let him have his way, and watch over the complete destruction of Ukraine and her people. I could not disagree more strongly.

Cooper: The circumstances of Ukraine are heartbreaking, and I stand with the Ukrainian people as they fight valiantly to push Russia back to its borders. The United States and its allies took too long to deter an attack and underestimated Russian military strength. Russia’s perceived weakness in the commitment of invasion by NATO nations was a precipitating event to the invasion of Ukraine.

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?

Stanton: The Department of Justice has a responsibility to protect our national security and when the evidence warrants should investigate and prosecute crimes without fear or favor.

Cooper: I am concerned about the past history of the FBI that showed an extreme bias toward Republicans. This issue will continue to play out in court, but if it is surmised those documents in question were not a national security threat, then we need to investigate how that action took place. I am increasingly concerned about the leadership of the DOJ and the FBI. The brave men and women of the FBI and their field agents are not the issue; the bureaucrats who lead them are the cause of concern.

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What policy issue OR what personally distinguishes you most from your opponent?

Stanton: Throughout my time as an elected official, I’ve worked to achieve bipartisan results for our state — and it’s paid off. On good-paying jobs. On climate change. On infrastructure investment. On protecting our water.

During my time as mayor of Phoenix, we built a bipartisan coalition to rebuild our economy from the Great Recession.  Phoenix simultaneously had both the fastest-growth city and the highest-growing wages in the country. That doesn’t happen by accident.

I’ve taken that same approach in Congress — and it’s worked for Arizona. I’ve been able to deliver hundreds of millions of dollars for water infrastructure. I was one of the loudest voices in support of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement that was passed by Congress and signed by President Trump, creating new opportunities for Arizona workers and businesses.

I’ll continue to work with everyone — Republicans, Democrats, independents—to improve the lives of the people I serve.

My opponent, on the other hand, has a different approach. He has shown little interest in Arizona issues and attacks fellow Republicans who aren’t as extreme as him.

He pushes an extreme MAGA agenda, denies the results of the 2020 election, promotes dangerous conspiracy theories, and said he’ll push for the release of those who attacked our nation’s Capitol on January 6. He’s called for dismantling the FBI and said federal law enforcement is “exactly like” the Gestapo — the Nazi police force which rounded up political opponents and Jews for execution.

My opponent is so extreme that he has attacked Governor Ducey, Speaker Bowers, County Recorder Richer, Mesa Mayor Giles, Supervisor Hickman and other Republicans who refuse to go along with the Big Lie. He even uses violent rhetoric — recently telling an audience that it’s time to “assault” Arizonans who disagree with him politically.

These qualities may be what Donald Trump is looking for in a sycophantic follower, but they do not deliver results for Arizona.

Cooper: I have said it once and will say it repeatedly — we must put people over politics. This is not simply a slogan anymore. It is a rallying cry. We must put the people of this country above the politically elite like Nancy Pelosi and Greg Stanton and their egregious policies that are destroying our communities, our economy, and even our families. Future generations depend on it, yes. But our families, businesses, and livelihoods depend on it now.

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?

Stanton: Inflation is a worldwide challenge in the wake of the pandemic, but that does not make it less painful for Arizonans experiencing rising gas prices, food prices and housing costs. I get it.

The most significant factor for rising prices is the complete disruption of global supply chains that started in the first weeks of the pandemic and remains to this day. Decades of underinvestment in our infrastructure meant goods arriving from overseas got stuck in our ports, leading to higher prices. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law invested millions to make our supply chain more resilient, and I also voted for legislation that was signed into law to crack down on exorbitant and unfair shipping fees charged by international ocean shipping companies.

But truth be told, we’ve been dependent on supplies made in other countries for far too long. America needs to make more of the goods we rely on here at home rather than across the Pacific Ocean.

That’s one of the many reasons why I pushed for the CHIPS Act, as well as the America COMPETES Act — to provide incentives for semiconductor manufacturers to research and build their products in America. I also voted for legislation that was signed into law to crack down on exorbitant and unfair shipping fees charged by international ocean shipping companies.

Another significant contributor to inflation in Arizona is the rapid rise of housing costs, and I support efforts to build more affordable housing. Our region continues to have a housing supply deficit and local governments — from the state to cities — must step up and do their part to encourage building more housing.

Cooper: We have to stop uncontrolled spending. We do not have a revenue problem in Washington, we continue to receive record tax receipts every year, but we spend above what we collect yearly. We need to think about what we leave for the next generation. All of our children will have to deal with paying back all of the borrowing we have created. Over $300 billion a year in interest payments alone.

Tara Kavaler is a politics reporter at The Arizona Republic. She can be reached by email at or on Twitter @kavalertara.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Greg Stanton, 4th District candidate, talks infrastructure, water