SAN TAN VALLEY — Medicare For All, although a worthy goal, might be too big a step to take at once, two Democratic hopefuls for Congress said.
Delina DiSanto, who lives north of Cave Creek, and Stuart Starky of Phoenix were guests of the San Tan Valley Democrats’ monthly online meeting Saturday morning. The two never directly engaged. Almost half of Starky’s message was lost, and he left the meeting before it was over due to a poor cellphone connection from the White Mountains.
But Starky was able to make clear that his primary aim is to help Mark Kelly win a U.S. Senate seat, gain a Democratic majority in that body and defeat President Donald Trump. He also offered an endorsement of sorts for DiSanto.
“If you want somebody who is really, really focused on the congressional race, then I’m going to be honest with you: Delina’s a better choice than I am. And I will support her 100% because she’s a great candidate,” Starky said.
The meeting can be seen on YouTube on the San Tan Valley Democrats Club channel. The primary election is Aug. 4.
DiSanto and Starky are running for the right to face incumbent District 4 Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Prescott, on Nov. 3 in the general election. The district is mostly in western Arizona but includes some rural-central areas, including San Tan Valley and Florence.
“I know Medicare For All would be a great plan. But you know what? What we need to do is take it one step at a time,” DiSanto said. She said instead, there needs to be a “Medicare plan” that the public can choose, in competition with private insurance. “This is what a capitalist country is about.”
She said it’s “insane” that everyone in America doesn’t have insurance, “because health care is a right.”
Starky said he believes in Medicare For All, and it’s one of the first things that drew him to Bernie Sanders. “But I’m willing to find the right mechanism that funds it. I’m not interested that we lose everything for the sake of getting single-payer (health care) right now. I’m more interested in making sure that every American citizen has health coverage.”
Starky said a wall isn’t what’s needed to secure the U.S. border. “I believe immigrants should be able to come to this country today same way my great-grandfather did. He came through an open door at Ellis Island, and was the beginning of the lineage of the Starky family, and I believe that should be our policy today.
“Our immigration policy today is built really off of hate,” Starky continued. “Again, it all comes back to the time of me as a kid. Why is it that people can have such hate? And we can see what such hate can do to government. So I believe in an immigration policy that welcomes people to our country. Instead of building big walls we’re opening our doors to make sure they can live the same dream as my great-grandfather.”
DiSanto said senators Edward Kennedy and John McCain had a great immigration reform bill that failed to pass in its day, and she would support it again. Also, those who came to the country as young children, the “DREAMers,” should already be citizens, DiSanto said.
DiSanto, who also ran for the nomination in 2018, said she has the name recognition as well as the legislative experience. She was an aide to U.S. Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell of Colorado, now retired. She said she has gone all over the district meeting people.
“I know what they’re going through and I can feel it, because I’ve been through that, growing up poor with my mom and with my family.” As a registered nurse who has also been a hospital finance director, she said she has worked with families in need.
Starky, a school principal in south Phoenix, ran for Congress in 1998, ran for Senate in 2004 debated McCain twice. Starky provides a link to a C-SPAN video of one of those debates on his campaign website. He said he can also go toe to toe with Gosar.
“What you have in me is someone who has always stepped forward to fight the fight when others were silent. I spent 10 years in school classrooms in south Phoenix giving kids a chance to go on to amazing lives, and I’m proud of every moment.”
He said he learned about hate in the world as a young child, seeing the numbers tattooed on people’s arms when they came to visit his mother. He said the hate, bigotry and prejudice in the country today is what compelled him to get in this race.
“I’m the candidate you want on a stage or a podium, fighting for our cause, this November.”
DiSanto commented further on Starky after he left the meeting.
She said Starky ran for president in 1991, and has yet to file papers with the Federal Election Commission for his current race. “You don’t know what he’s spending money on or what monies are coming in to him.” She referenced a 1996 article that said Starky wanted to phase out Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.