Republican Barbara Carrasco and Democrat Beto O'Rourke face off in one more of a series of debates ahead of the election to fill El Paso's seat on Capitol Hill.
The candidates participated in a forum organized by students at Coronado High School. The WE (fill in the blank) Debate consisted of student- and community-generated questions for the candidates. ABC-7 anchor and reporter Stephanie Valle moderated the debate.
Each candidate had one or two minutes to respond to questions regarding the economy, bipartisan relations in Washington, D.C. and national security.
Students also asked about the legalization of marijuana, affirmative action on college campuses and the DREAM Act. Candidates were also asked why they thought they were a better person that their opponent to serve as the representative for the 16th Congressional District.
"I've talked about solving the long wait times at our bridges, capitalizing on the fact that we are the world's largest binational community," said O'Rourke, when asked why he would be a better representative. "We can very well be the epicenter of U.S./Mexico trade, commerce, culture."
Carrasco followed, starting by saying she would be able to work with the leadership in place on Capitol Hill on the issues El Pasoans care about.
"These are the types of things I can get done in Washington because I'm a Republican. But that doesn't limit me from working with everyone in Washington," Carrasco said. "What it does say is Barbara Carrasco, when she's in Washington, will be working with the majority to impact El Paso positively."
Candidates were given two minutes for a closing statement. O'Rourke went first.
"This is a community on the rise. This is a community that at last believes in itself and is willing to do what it takes to achieve greatness," said O'Rourke.
"I believe in this community. And I believe that if we set our minds to it, if we work hard, if we're ambitious, we can turn any of the challenges that we spoke about tonight into opportunities and ultimately victories for this community."
Carrasco spoke next.
"Are you fed up like I am of corrupt politicians all the way from El Paso to Washington?" she asked the crowd, drawing a scattered, yet enthusiastic response from her supporters. "Then let's do something about it. Let's stop it." Carrasco then pointed to O'Rourke, calling him a career politician who disregarded El Pasoans' votes while a city representative.
"Let's send a message to Washington, and that message is, 'We're sending Barbara Carrasco to Washington and she's going to be a representative of the people of El Paso, not special interest groups,'" she said.
Students at Burges High School are also organizing a debate between the congressional candidates. It will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the school's gymnasium at 7800 Edgemere Blvd. and is open to the public.