Paul Babeu, Tom O'Halleran debate on energy policy, school scandal

Posted at 4:28 PM, Sep 23, 2016

Energy jobs and a school abuse scandal topped issues discussed at the first face-to-face debate between candidates for Arizona's First Congressional District.

The district spans from Coconino County through rural eastern Arizona into Pinal County. The winner in November will replace Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Flagstaff, who is running for U.S. Senate.

Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, a republican, says he'll fight for better treatment of veterans and he wants to get replace Obamacare.

Tom O'Halleran is a former police officer and state legislator from Yavapai County. He switched political parties recently, and he is running as a democrat.

O'Halleran wants to improve Obamacare and improve jobs opportunities for the middle class.

The biggest issue in the debate was the future of coal-fired power plants, which employ thousands of people in northeastern Arizona.

"You know where I stand," Babeu said.  "I will fight for coal.  I will fight to protect those jobs, and my opponent says one thing to some of the media and he goes the other meeting and he says just the opposite."

"I will not vote to close any one of those power plants," OHalleran said. "I will make sure the EPA regulatory environment is one that will take into account the needs of our communities."

The debate got really heated when talk turned to abuses as a Massachusetts boarding school where Babeu once worked. ABC15 has aired numerous reports about the scandal