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CD 2 Democratic candidates to debate Thursday


Six Democratic congressional candidates will go head-to-head at a forum moderated by TucsonSentinel.com Editor Dylan Smith on Thursday, May 3.

Responding to questions about their approach to issues important to Southern Arizona voters will be Matt Heinz, Billy Kovacs, Mary Matiella, Barbara Sherry, Bruce Wheeler and Yahya Yuksel.

Not attending will be Ann Kirkpatrick.

The 90-minute public forum will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the auditorium of Catalina High School, 3645 E. Pima St. Doors will open for the un-ticketed event at 6 p.m.

The forum is sponsored by Represent Me AZ.

The Democrats are vying in the August primary election to determine who will run in the November general election that will pick the next member of Congress for the seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Martha McSally, who is seeking the U.S. Senate seat being left open by U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake.

Kirkpatrick is the former CD 1 congresswoman who lost the U.S. Senate race to John McCain in 2016. Matt Heinz was the Democratic candidate who lost to McSally in November 2016. Mary Matiella is a former assistant Army secretary seeking elected office for the first time, as are political newcomers Billy Kovacs, Barbara Sherry and Yahya Yuksel. Former state representative and ex-Tucson City Councilman Bruce Wheeler is again running in the Democratic congressional primary.

Kirkpatrick cited scheduling issues in declining an invitation to take part in the debate. Although organizers offered to reschedule for another date in May, her campaign staff said she was not available this month. Kirkpatrick attended a February forum that TucsonSentinel.com assisted in organizing in Green Valley in February. Yuksel had not yet declared his candidacy and did not participate in that event.

The CD2 GOP candidates have yet to hold a public forum. All reporters and non-party members were refused entry to a discussion organized by the Pima County Republican Party last month.

While the wide field of candidates precludes the event from being a formal debate because of time restrictions, the six will be asked to individually weigh in on questions about issues the the next representative from CD 2 will face.

The sponsoring organization and TucsonSentinel.com have solicited input on potential questions from the public — weigh in here in the comments to discuss what you think the candidates need to address.

Although the sponsoring political group is submitting topics of interest, the format and questions asked at the forum will be determined solely by TucsonSentinel.com's journalists. The discussion will be videotaped and posted online after the event, as well as streamed live on Facebook.

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Kovacs, Matiella, Wheeler, Yuksel, Sherry and Heinz.