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Tipirneni, Lesko diverge on hot-button issues of border security, gun control

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LISTEN: Dr. Hiral Tipirneni, Democratic candidate for the seat of Congressional District 8

PHOENIX — One day before the general special election, Congressional District 8 candidates Debbie Lesko and Dr. Hiral Tipirneni outlined their views on the hot-button issues of border security and gun control.

Both candidates acknowledged the importance of securing the border during separate appearances Monday on KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona Morning News, but they didn’t agree about the best way to do it. The key difference came in regard to President Donald Trump’s proposed wall.

Lesko, the Republican, said she “definitely” is in favor of funding a wall as part of the policy.

“I think a combination of all of those things, increasing border funding for a wall, increasing funding for border agents and technology will all help to keep us safer and to secure the border because government’s No. 1 responsibility is protecting its citizens, and part of that is securing the border,” said Lesko, a former state representative and senator.

Listen: Debbie Lesko, Republican candidate for the seat of Congressional District 8

Tipirneni, a Democrat making her first run for public office, said the problem with spending on a wall is that it does nothing to address the issues of undocumented people who overstay their visas or drugs coming in through ports of entry.

“I understand that the idea of a wall, it makes people feel better … it makes you feel safer, but $26 billion is a long way to go to feel safe when it really doesn’t actually make us any safer,” Tipirneni said.

When it comes to guns, Tipirneni would like to see comprehensive background checks on all purchases.

“I support the Second Amendment … but I also support commonsense gun reforms, and I don’t think those two things are mutually exclusive,” Tipirneni said.

Lesko is against new restrictions on gun purchases.

“I’m a supporter of Second Amendment rights,” Lesko said. “Laws are followed by law-abiding citizens, so I don’t think we need any more laws.”

Voters will decide Tuesday whether Lesko or Tipirneni will replace former U.S. Rep. Trent Franks (R), who resigned in December after discussing surrogacy with at least two staffers.

Recent polls about the Congressional District 8 race ranged from Lesko leading by 10 percentage points to Tipirneni being up by one point. The West Valley district has long been a Republican stronghold.

“We just have to make sure that our Republicans get out to vote, and then I’ll be just fine,” Lesko said.

Tipirneni is hoping voters in the Congressional District 8 are ready for a change.

“The concerns that people have, whether they are D’s or R’s, are fairly similar, and they are really just looking for some solutions and some progress forward, “Tipirneni said. “I think the district is ready for a new voice.”

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