SIERRA VISTA — Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kelly made a stop in Sierra Vista on Friday to talk to members of the public at an event hosted by the Democratic Women of Southeastern Arizona (DWSEA).
The stop at the Holiday subdivision clubhouse was part of his tour of the state as election season starts to heat up.
Media were barred from the event, but Kelly said in a phone interview later Friday afternoon that he is traveling around the state to meet people and hear their needs in preparation for his campaign. He said his talk on Friday was centered around his background and gaining insight into Cochise County.
“I always talk about my background — what I learned about overcoming challenges from my mother, using public policy to improve people’s lives, what I’ve learned from being an astronaut ... ,” he said in the interview. “I want to be accessible. I don’t want to be a typical candidate, I want to do things differently.”
Kelly said he wants to be an independent voice for Arizona and is not taking any corporate Political Action Committee (PAC) money for his campaign.
As far as what he learned about the needs of Cochise County during his visit, Kelly said there are several issues people are really invested in.
“In general, a lot of folks have concerns with healthcare, Medicare,” he said. “Good coverage for Americans is important to Arizonans, as well as protecting social security, and the border is an issue throughout the state.
“People want folks who will represent them in Washington, D.C., and get them to care about these problems.”
Despite his camp denying media access to Friday’s event, Kelly said being accessible to the press is important to him and he has been speaking with local media as he travels throughout the state.
He said he expects to return to the area in mid- to late June and will take time to sit down with the Herald/Review for a face-to-face interview.
Some of Kelly’s top priorities are healthcare, veterans and the economy and jobs.
The Herald/Review was originally invited by the DWSEA to attend the event, but on Friday morning was informed the group wanted to change plans.
They said the event was closed to media and Kelly’s team would rather set up an interview with the Herald/Review later, rather than having a photographer and reporter at the event.
The Herald/Review reached out to Kelly’s communication team after being told the event was closed to the press and quickly received a phone call from communications director Jacob Peters.
Peters apologized, stating that it had been their understanding all along that the event would be closed to media and said he was unaware an invitation had previously been extended.
“It’s not a reflection on how we value you and not the impression we wanted to leave,” Peters told the Herald/Review. “We value the voice of local and city reporters; that’s been really important to us and it’s our intention to be transparent and accessible.”
Kelly, a retired U.S. Navy combat pilot, engineer and NASA astronaut, announced in February his intent to run for the seat formerly held by late Sen. John McCain’s, currently held by Republican Sen. Martha McSally, who was appointed months ago by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey.