Meet Our Candidates: Randall Friese for State Representative, LD 9

The Arizona primary election will be held on August 30, 2016. Reproductive health care access has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive justice. To acquaint you with our endorsed candidates, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates.” In order to vote in the primary election, you must register to vote by August 1 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2016!

Randall FrieseDr. Randall Friese, a Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona repeat endorsee, represents Legislative District 9 in the Arizona House. The incumbent is one of three Democrats running in the primary for two LD 9 seats.

Dr. Friese, a trauma surgeon, helped save the life of then-U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, one of 18 people shot during a meet-and-greet with constituents outside a Tucson supermarket in 2011. The U.S. Navy veteran has said that he became interested in politics after the shooting.


“The Legislature has no role legislating medical practice for the care of an individual.”


Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona recommend LD 9 voters cast their ballots for both Rep. Friese and fellow incumbent Rep. Matt Kopec. Rep. Friese generously took the time to answer our questions on July 6, 2016.

Since we last spoke, how has your commitment to serving Arizona grown? What has happened during that time to give you hope, and what has happened to strengthen your convictions?

I remain fully committed to serving our state in the Legislature. I am running for reelection for a second term to build in the relationships and trust that I built with fellow Democrats as well as my Republican colleagues.

I believe that I can contribute significantly to the legislative process because of the experience I gained from my first term. I get hope for the future from the recent 5-3 U.S. Supreme Court decision invalidating a Texas law limiting access to abortion. We have laws in Arizona similar to the ones struck down in Texas. We may be able to change these laws here in Arizona.  Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Matt Kopec for State Representative, LD 9

The Arizona primary election will be held on August 30, 2016. Reproductive health care access has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive justice. To acquaint you with our endorsed candidates, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates.” In order to vote in the primary election, you must register to vote by August 1 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2016!

Matt KopecAt 27, Matt Kopec became the Arizona Legislature’s youngest member when the Pima County Board of Supervisors appointed him to a vacated House seat in January 2016. Kopec, former Pima County Democratic Party treasurer and aide to Tucson Councilwoman Karin Uhlich, replaced Victoria Steele in Legislative District 9. If she wins her primary, Ms. Steele will face U.S. Rep. Martha McSally in November.

Kopec, a Tucson native, serves on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and the Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee.


“Age-appropriate, medically accurate sex education … reduces unintended pregnancies and cases of sexually transmitted infections.”


Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona recommend LD 9 voters cast their ballots for both Rep. Kopec and fellow incumbent Rep. Randall Friese. Rep. Kopec generously took the time to answer our questions on July 6, 2016.

What kind of beneficial legislation would you like to see introduced, and why do you think it’s important to fight for it?

With the recent Supreme Court case regarding abortion access in Texas, we need to bring Arizona in compliance with that ruling. Although I do understand that may ultimately require legal action [to] be brought. Every woman has the right to access abortion services, and we need to stand up to any law that erodes that.  Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Maritza Miranda Saenz for State Senator, LD 27

The Arizona primary election will be held on August 30, 2016. Reproductive health care access has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive justice. To acquaint you with our endorsed candidates, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates.” In order to vote in the primary election, you must register to vote by August 1 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2016!

Maritza Miranda Saenz scaledMaritza Miranda Saenz is running for the Arizona Senate to represent Legislative District 27, which encompasses parts of Central Phoenix and the communities of Laveen, South Mountain, and Guadalupe. She is a candidate who comes from a family with experience in both law and grassroots politics. Her mother, Lucy Lopez-Goss, served indigent clients for the Maricopa County Office of the Legal Defender, and her father, the late Rep. Ben Miranda, served the area as a legislator, attorney, and activist. It is a tradition Miranda Saenz carried on while working alongside her father for 15 years. Her involvement in the community continued as she started a small business that mentors area youth. Miranda Saenz entered the race with an interest in supporting education and small businesses in Arizona, as well as protecting our voting rights and environment.


“I believe the ability to control one’s own body is an issue of justice and freedom.”


Since 2015, Miranda Saenz’s opponent, Catherine Miranda, has been the Democratic Senator for LD 27. Before that, Catherine served in the AZ House since 2011. During Catherine Miranda’s Senate bid in 2014, we gave her the spotlight on this blog for a very different reason. As we wrote then, “A lot of us might assume that a female Democrat will be a fierce advocate for reproductive rights, but that’s not always a safe assumption” — and, as we summarized then, Rep. Miranda has turned that assumption on its head time and again. In her five years in the Senate, Rep. Miranda has supported legislation to ban state funding for abortion providers, restrict the administration of medication abortions, and create other new barriers to reproductive health care. Rep. Miranda’s record earned her an “anti-choice” classification from NARAL Pro-Choice Arizona, as well as the endorsement of Arizona Right to Life.

Maritza Miranda Saenz thinks the voters of LD 27 need an alternative. On July 14, she generously took the time for an interview to tell us more about her candidacy and what’s at stake in the election.

Tell us a little about your background.

I am a mom, small business owner, and lifelong Democrat born and raised in South Phoenix. My husband and I are raising our four kids in the district and are deeply invested in the future of our community. I was raised with a sense of obligation to fight for working class families. I strongly believe that women should be the only decision makers about their own health care needs. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Iisha Graves for State Representative, LD 13

The Arizona primary election will be held on August 30, 2016. Reproductive health care access has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive justice. To acquaint you with our endorsed candidates, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates.” In order to vote in the primary election, you must register to vote by August 1 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2016!

Iisha Graves scaledIisha Graves is running to represent Arizona’s 13th legislative district. Although two-thirds of LD 13’s constituents live in Maricopa County’s West Valley, in terms of pure acreage the district is largely rural, stretching as far north as Wickenburg and all the way to the foothills of Yuma in the west.

Although Ms. Graves is running unopposed in next month’s Democratic primary election, in November she will be vying with Republican candidates to fill one of two available House seats. One Republican who she is likely to face is Don Shooter, who is running for the House after serving three terms as a state Senator — a position he used to oppose birth control access and attempt to enshrine anti-LGBTQ discrimination into law.


“We need to invest smarter in areas like education, preventive health care, and mental health.”


Voters in LD 13 looking for a candidate who prioritizes health care, education, and compassion can cast their ballots for Iisha Graves, who generously took the time to answer our questions on July 14, 2016.

Tell us a little about your background.

I grew up in a family that struggled with addiction and abuse. Despite the challenges this created for me, I broke the cycle of abuse, educated myself, and created a different life for my children than the one I had. My experiences have shown me the importance of mental health, medical care, and social services in ensuring individuals and families thrive. For over 15 years I have been working with at-risk populations of youth and adults. My campaign is founded on the idea that it is time to mend our failing education system so that it serves all our students; to transform the for-profit prison industry into a for-people industry; and to remodel our justice system so that people struggling with addiction receive social services and medical care rather than criminal records. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Nikki Bagley for State Senator, LD 6

The Arizona primary election will be held on August 30, 2016. Reproductive health care access has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive justice. To acquaint you with our endorsed candidates, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates.” In order to vote in the primary election, you must register to vote by August 1 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2016!

Nikki Bagley croppedThe sprawling 6th Legislative District covers a large swath of rural Arizona, from the Grand Canyon in the north to the Tonto National Forest in the south, and from Jerome in the west to Holbrook in the east. LD 6 is currently represented in the state Senate by Sylvia Allen, who in the past has opposed Medicaid expansion and whose record on education is not stellar; as head of the Senate Education Committee, Sen. Allen blocked legislation that would have improved sex education in Arizona, making it medically accurate, inclusive of all students, and opt-out rather than opt-in.


Education is the “best investment we can make for the future of Arizona.”


As a young mother, Nikki Bagley has a personal stake in improving Arizona’s education system so that our state is not only a beautiful place to live, but also a better place to raise a family. As a former city council member and mayor of Jerome, she has ample experience balancing budgets and serving her constituents. As Senator, she would replace Allen’s extremism with a moderating influence that is more in line with her district’s values. For these reasons and more, Ms. Bagley is our endorsed candidate for Senate in LD 6.

Ms. Bagley generously took the time to answer our questions on July 12, 2016.

Tell us a little about your background.

I am an Arizona native, farmer, teacher, and mother. I currently run the viticulture program at Yavapai College and am also the former mayor of Jerome. These experiences have helped to shape me as a person and my campaign for state Senate, particularly my focus on education and issues important to rural Arizona. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Ralph Atchue for State Senator, LD 11

The Arizona primary election will be held on August 30, 2016. Reproductive health care access has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive justice. To acquaint you with our endorsed candidates, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates.” In order to vote in the primary election, you must register to vote by August 1 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2016!

atchueArizona’s Legislative District 11 covers an area northwest of Tucson that includes Oro Valley, Picture Rocks, Marana, and Catalina, and extends as far north as Casa Grande. Steve Smith is our current senator, known for his anti-choice record and involvement in the 2013 lawsuit that sought to eliminate Arizona’s Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.


“Reality-based comprehensive sex education is necessary if we are serious about reducing STDs and unwanted pregnancies.”


This district, or the previous district that covered much of this area, has been represented by Democrats in the past in both the state Senate and the House, and can be again. I was therefore pleased to interview Ralph Atchue, who is running in LD 11 to unseat Sen. Smith.

Mr. Atchue generously took the time to answer our questions on July 10, 2016.

Tell us a little about your background.

[I’m a] 33-year employee of the United States Postal Service — all in Illinois. [I’ve spent] 12 years [as] steward and local president with the National Association of Letter Carriers, and 21 years representing the National Association of Postal Supervisors. Retired as a postmaster.

[I’m a] four-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force. Moved to Arizona in 2005. Worked as a volunteer in campaigns from 2006 to 2014 — Obama, Kirkpatrick, McGuire campaigns. Worked for the past three years with others to rebuild the Casa Grande Democrats — [I have served as] secretary/treasurer, Democratic P.C., and member of the ADP state committee. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Ken Clark for State Representative, LD 24

The Arizona primary election will be held on August 30, 2016. Reproductive health care access has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive justice. To acquaint you with our endorsed candidates, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates.” In order to vote in the primary election, you must register to vote by August 1 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2016!

ken clarkOur candidate interviews usually focus on Planned Parenthood’s core concerns, like reproductive health, sex education, and reproductive choice. This interview is an exception. Rep. Clark was interviewed in 2014 on these issues, and has been an ally during his term in the House, where he represents Central Phoenix’s Legislative District 24.


“There are enough people in this state that if 5,000 people collected one petition, we’d get this done.”


Recently, however, he has been instrumental in trying to repeal a law passed at the end of this session, SB 1516, that makes it easier for dark money to influence our elections. Dark money is money used by groups like nonprofit organizations, corporations, or labor unions for political purposes. At issue is whether and how such groups have to reveal the sources of their funds. Instead of writing a separate piece on dark money, we decided to use today’s installment of our Meet Our Candidates series to shine a light on the issue. Planned Parenthood believes in the importance of fair and clean elections that accurately represent the will of the people.

You can learn more about dark money at Stop Corruption Now. Rep. Clark generously took the time to answer our questions via telephone on July 5, 2016.

When I moved to Arizona 20 years ago, I was impressed with the way elections here were run, especially that candidates could use public monies to finance their campaigns, for a more equal playing field. So I’ve been very disturbed by attacks on the system in recent years, including SB 1516, which was passed at the end of this legislative session and signed into law without much discussion. Can you tell us what this law does that is so damaging to our elections?

Senate Bill 1516 completely wipes out our previous campaign finance statute, and replaces it with something that will allow people to hide money in our political system, and in doing so, threaten politicians and blackmail them to get them to do what they want. So it’s an unprecedented change, and it doesn’t matter what issue you care the most about — if this law stays in place, your issue will be affected, because you will no longer have a Legislature that acts based on the merits of the law; with this law in place, it will act based on who has the most money and who is threatening whom. Continue reading