Race for representative seat packed with candidates

KINGMAN - The primary election is a crowded event for the United States representative seat for District 2. Four candidates in all are vying for a spot on the General Election ballot to take on incumbent Republican Trent Franks.

Three of the candidates are reaching for the finish line for the Democratic nomination. John Thrasher, Schindran "Chat" Chatterjee and Gene Scharer are all running under the Democratic ballot in the primary election, with one of them to be chosen to run in November.

Thrasher said he decided to run this year because he is outraged at the abuse of power that has been seen at the White House. The last term has almost annihilated the balance of power in the nation's legislative and executive branches, and the public has had almost no voice in Congress, Thrasher said. Franks' voting record, he said, has hurt vets and has shown Franks to be against voting rights.

If elected, Thrasher said he would have two main objectives. The first would be the ongoing war in Iraq.

"We need to have a structure and a plan for exit," he said. It would be ideal for the nation's government to have a phased exit, he said, and he has developed a four-step plan to do so.

First, he said, the United States needs to secure the internal security of Iraq.

Next, it is imperative that the U.S. take responsibility for the damage caused by the war the U.S. started and fix the infrastructure.

Third, the oil pipelines need to be secured, and finally, Iraq's borders must be secured.

His second prime goal is illegal immigration, a topic, he said, which is on everyone's mind. The United States needs to eliminate the incentive to hire undocumented workers without accountability. Employers are paying for illegal immigrants to come here, and until that stops, Thrasher said illegal immigration wouldn't stop.

He said his idea to track workers is to have a special ID issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles that would track workers by a unique method such as a thumbprint. Immigrants need to be able to pay for the healthcare and school system that they are using instead of flying under the radar and getting more than their fair share, Thrasher said.

In additional, Thrasher said he does not believe in privatizing Social Security and said the U.S. needs to lower healthcare costs, especially for retired and senior citizens. Thrasher said he plans to work on opening the market to competition and work on offering healthcare universally to every citizen.

Chatterjee, a legal immigrant who moved to the United States to attend Vanderbilt University, is also running for the Democratic nomination for U.S. representative. An engineer and college professor, Chatterjee speaks half a dozen languages and is excited by the chance to give back to a country that has given him so much.

He said he decided to run because he did not like where he saw this country heading. He said that if the U.S. continues on the track it is currently heading, it will be a third-world country in just two generations.

"I came to this country - legally - as an immigrant. I'm proof that the American dream is alive and well, and I want to make that dream a reality for our children and other new legal immigrants. Today, I'm a Democrat -after decades as a Republican - and I've changed my allegiance because I'm watching the country I love moving further and further away from the ideals it stood for when I came here in the '60s," he said.

If elected, Chatterjee said he had four main priorities. He said Congress needed to focus on education, healthcare, border and homeland security issues, and, above all, the war in Iraq.

He said that the United States has to leave Iraq. "We have no business being there. It would be like General Motors making Coca-Cola," he said.

In addition, Chatterjee said he, if elected, intends to open offices in Bullhead City, Lake Havasu City, Kingman and on the Hopi reservation and visit them regularly.

"You're supposed to be telling me what kind of job I'm doing, not the other way around," he said. He also said he plans to hold town hall meetings within the county every month.

Scharer has also felt for several years that the people in this district aren't being represented properly in Congress. This district has been represented by someone who represents wealthy, corporate issues but not really the common, everyday citizen, he said. After two unsuccessful attempts for the seat in Congress, he decided to run again.

With a background as a UPS driver, an Army veteran and a public high school teacher, Scharer said he believes he has the experience to understand the "struggles and concerns of working-class families better than most wealthy members of Congress.

"As important as a candidate's background and experiences may be, the 2006 Election will be more about repudiating the right-wing agenda and failed policies of our Republican leaders. They want to 'stay the course,' but this course is the road to ruin. 'Staying the course' means perpetuating the status quo in Iraq with no exit strategy … 'Staying the course' also means turning back the clock, erasing decades of progress in many areas including: civil rights, women's rights, workers' rights, environmental protection and our moral leadership in the world," he said.

If elected, he said his top issue would be the war in Iraq. He said he would like to join with all other members of Congress and call for the administration to draft a plan for withdrawal.

He said he would also like to see the creation of a national healthcare system. Due to the small likelihood of securing healthcare away from HMOs and doctors, he said he would spearhead a plan so that every American has healthcare. He would like to expand Medicare to cover senior and retired citizens above the age of 55 and children under the age of 18.

The borders need to be secured once and for all, he said. He said he believed that Bush was on the right track by increasing the Border Patrol and supplementing them with National Guard presence, but more needed to be done.

The three Democratic candidates are vying for the nomination of their party to face off against Franks in the November General Election. As long as he receives at least one vote in the primary, Libertarian Powell Gammill will also be in the mix November for the House seat.