Sen. Mark Kelly visited the Show Low Senior Center late last month and spoke to about 50 people for just over 30 minutes.
He discussed issues he feels directly affects residents of the White Mountains and devoted the most amount of time on Oct. 20 to climate change and renewable energy. He discussed the topic at length for the last third of his speaking time.
He spoke on the Inflation Reduction Act, a bill that is said to reduce the national deficit while lowering prescription drug prices and promoting clean energy.
“In the year 2100, it’s going to be really hot, and it will definitely affect places like Show Low and Pinetop,” Kelly said. “It means more wildfires and less water. I’m trying to address these issues. (The act) is not going to fix everything, but it is a good start.”
When an attendee questioned Kelly about the act and the jobs it will affect in rural Arizona, Kelly noted an increase in jobs is expected to come when the U.S. moves from solar panel manufacturing in China to American soil, saying, “That will come because of this legislation, so it’s good for jobs and the environment.”
Another participant questioned Kelly about the economy, noting that she believed it was “the biggest issue affecting all the elections.” Kelly responded, “It always is. The economy is really complicated. You have the unemployment rate, which is really low right now. You have small business that struggled during COVID, but we have 500,000 small businesses here in the state and we were able to keep those open.”
Kelly believes the main economical component that needs addressing is costs, specifically that of “gasoline, food and anything that has a semiconductor chip in it” and said he believes increasing gasoline production is a good place to start.
“I told the president that he needs to increase gas and oil production, and he didn’t want to do it. Now, we have more Gulf of Mexico leases available for the companies. The problem is the companies like these profits. The difference between what they pay for a gallon of crude oil and what they get for a gallon of gas, it’s higher than it’s ever been before,” Kelly said.
After pictures with the attendees and taking a few last-minute questions, Kelly spoke with a White Mountain Independent reporter and said the speaking engagement went well, noting that he had visited the Senior Center before saying, “It’s always the same type of atmosphere here — very warm, responsive and well-informed on the issues.”
He said he believes his campaign was moving forward positively in its final weeks before the Nov. 8 Election Day. He said, “I’ve built a campaign designed to win. I was able to keep a lot of my staff and we’ve been spending a lot of time traveling across the state.”
Kelly remarked that he didn’t win by many votes in a 2020 special election and when asked if he expects to win by a larger margin this time around, he said, “We’ll see. It’s always hard to figure this stuff out. I don’t spend a lot of time reading polls; I spend a lot of time talking to people about the issues they care about.”
If he were to check the most recent polls, he would find himself in a near toss-up with Republican challenger Blake Masters.
Kelly said, “I don’t think there’s a greater contrast in the country than here between these two individuals that are running for the U.S. Senate” and commented that he and Masters “couldn’t be more different” on the issues affecting Arizona voters like Medicare, abortion and voting rights.
Kelly said, “If (Arizona) is going in the wrong direction, it’s in our democracy. When you have people like my opponent questioning our elections just because he either wanted an endorsement or just because his guy didn’t win, it’s dangerous. He’s already started to question the 2022 election. If you’re in this position of leadership, regardless of whether you’ve been elected to anything, people will listen to them and believe what they say. You can’t be peddling in conspiracies and lies, because if you do, you’re putting us all at risk.”