Meet Our Candidates: Norma Muñoz for State Representative, LD 27

The Arizona primary election will be held on August 26, 2014, but early voting starts today! 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.”  Make your voice heard in 2014!

1779221_695068247209987_37351261_aNorma Muñoz was appointed to her seat earlier this year when former state Rep. Ruben Gallego resigned to run for United States Congress. She now seeks to be elected to her first full term representing Legislative District 27, an area that encompasses much of southern Phoenix and an area where Rep. Muñoz has lived all her life. In addition to her commitment to reproductive justice, Rep. Muñoz has made public education and voting rights elements of focus in her campaign.

Ms. Muñoz kindly took the time for an interview on July 18, 2014.


“People know exactly what is important for them and their families regarding their health.”


Tell us a little about yourself.

I am a life-long resident of LD 27; my children were born and raised here and attended our local schools. My husband of 49 years is Jimmie Muñoz, constable of South Mountain Justice Court Precinct. I have six children and 19 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. I am a fierce advocate for public schools and have served on the Roosevelt School Board for over 20 years. For the past 30 years I have been involved in my community. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Rebecca Rios for State Representative, LD 27

The Arizona primary election will be held on August 26, 2014, but early voting starts today! 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.”  Make your voice heard in 2014!

photoA fourth generation Arizonan, Rebecca Rios lives in South Phoenix with her husband and three children. Earning both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work from Arizona State University, she used her social services experience to help set her priorities when she served in the Arizona House of Representatives from 1995 to 2001 and in the Arizona State Senate from 2005 to 2011. In addition to Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona, Ms. Rios’ endorsements include organizations such as the Arizona Women’s Political Caucus, Emily’s List, Stonewall Democrats, Arizona Nurses Association, and Equality Arizona.

In 2014, Ms. Rios seeks to represent Legislative District 27, an area that includes portions of southern Phoenix, including Laveen and South Mountain.

She was kind enough to take the time for an interview on July 21, 2014.


The warrantless inspection bill “was a legislative ‘solution’ in search of a problem that did not exist.”


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

Arizona needs to address public school financing in Arizona so that we are adequately supporting public education, teachers, and providing students the resources necessary to succeed.

Why do you think it’s important that people make their own health care decisions?

The ability for women to make health care decisions without government intrusion is a personal freedom that must be protected at all costs. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Angela Cotera for State Senator, LD 19

The Arizona primary election will be held on August 26, 2014, with early voting beginning on July 31. 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.” Make your voice heard in 2014!

acotera_cropDr. Angela Cotera has experience living and working in multiple areas of Arizona. A graduate of Flagstaff High School, she worked on post-doctoral research at the University of Arizona’s Steward Observatory in Tucson. Dr. Cotera now lives in Avondale, where she seeks to represent Legislative District 19 in the Arizona State Senate. In addition to reproductive health care access, Dr. Cotera has made stronger schools and secure jobs key issues in her campaign.

She took the time for this interview on July 26, 2014.


“Our mothers fought for us and thought they had won, but it now it seems we have to fight yet again, this time for our daughters.”


Tell us a little about your background.

Arizona has been my home for 47 years, although I spent time in Texas and California while earning two bachelor’s degrees from the University of Texas and a doctorate in applied physics from Stanford.

I learned about the importance of Planned Parenthood from the stories my mother told me of the 11 children and one back-alley abortion that my grandmother endured in the 1930s. Planned Parenthood was also a part of my early-married life, helping me to achieve my twin goals of building both a loving marriage and a successful career.

You are an alumna of Emerge Arizona, an organization whose goal is to increase the number of Democratic women in public office. How did this program impact you, and why do you believe it’s important that these voices be heard and represented in the government?

Emerge Arizona literally changed my life. I had always been interested in running for office, but as a research astrophysicist, I really did not know how; thanks to Emerge, now I know. As you may imagine, coming from a field where only 12 percent are women, I am used to fighting for women to be recognized and given equal treatment. I know that we bring equal talent and abilities to the table, but often a different perspective. That perspective must be well represented within our government.

Your Democratic opponent in the LD 19 Senate race is Lupe Contreras, who signed the Center for Arizona Policy’s statement denouncing Roe v. Wade. How do your views on reproductive health care differ from those of your opponent? Why is it important to protect the gains set forth by Roe v. Wade?

The “Pro-Life Proclamation” that he signed called for all Arizona legislators to make sure that full citizenship rights begin the moment an egg is fertilized. This basically would mean that women have no more rights than an incubator, which is outrageous. I believe that all women have sovereignty over their own bodies, and no one has a right to tell a woman what she can or cannot do within her own body.  Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: David Bradley for State Senator, LD 10

The Arizona primary election will be held on August 26, 2014, with early voting beginning on July 31. 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.” Make your voice heard in 2014!

10 Bradley, David_16Incumbent state Senator David Bradley, who Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona interviewed in 2012, is seeking once again to represent the interests of Legislative District 10 — an area that includes much of eastern Tucson and portions of central Tucson — in the Arizona legislature. During his most recent term, he has sponsored or co-sponsored a number of bills designed to reverse state-mandated barriers to abortion access and to provide accurate, accessible health care for Arizonans.

Mr. Bradley kindly took the time to participate in this interview on July 10, 2014.


“Medical decisions should be made based on science and not the philosophical positions of legislators.”


How has your commitment to serving Arizona grown over the past two years? On the policy level, what has happened during that time to give you hope, and what has happened to strengthen your convictions?

Medicaid expansion and the creation of the new child welfare agency were both positive and hopeful accomplishments of this legislative term. The existence of a reasonable center in the legislature is also reason to be positive about the legislative session. Much, of course, rides on the governor’s race this year, with hope that a reasonable individual is elected.

Last legislative session, you voted against HB 2284, the warrantless inspection bill, which now permits the health department to inspect abortion clinics without a warrant. How do you explain to constituents the unique nature of abortion care and the need for heightened privacy and safety for patients?

I focus on the personal decisions that a woman makes, hopefully done in consultation with others, [which] should be done both with privacy and safety. Opponents to abortion are free to make their case in just about any forum they choose, but that should not include the clinics where those services are delivered. In the end, the final decision is for the woman making it, and that decision should be made without coercion or intimidation from anyone. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Stefanie Mach for State Representative, LD 10

The Arizona primary election will be held on August 26, 2014, with early voting beginning on July 31. 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.” Make your voice heard in 2014!

Stefanie_Mach_HeadshotStefanie Mach is the incumbent for Legislative District 10 state representative and running for re-election. Considered a swing district, LD 10 comprises the east side of the Tucson metropolitan area. It encompasses neighborhoods from Campbell Avenue to Tanque Verde Ranch and the Catalina Mountains to Valencia Road.

On July 14, 2014, Mach spoke via telephone with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona, and emphasized the need for accessible education programs and health care, including comprehensive sex education, to help ensure that everyone has access to both information and choices that promote quality of life.


“Making abortion illegal … does not … eliminate abortions. It just eliminates safe abortions.”


Tell us a little about your background.

I grew up as a military kid. My dad was in the Air Force until I was in high school, and he retired to his home state of Wisconsin. Then I ended up settling there for a while. I went to undergrad. I was the first in my family to get a college degree from a four-year university, and then I went on to get a master’s degree in public policy after working in nonprofits for several years.

So, I think I just kind of talked about why I was involved in service. I ended up, after undergrad, going into AmeriCorps. I served a year as a volunteer with them, and I was just involved in service.

And I think the other thing that played a part in developing who I was as a person – I had an accident when I was 17 where I was severely burned over 55 percent of my body. I had a lot of extensive hospital care, and so health care issues are pretty important to me because of it. And education is also personally important because of my own personal experiences. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: David Garcia for Superintendent of Public Instruction

The Arizona primary election will be held on August 26, 2014. 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 primaries, you must register to vote by MIDNIGHT TONIGHT — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2014!

dg4az-0315In his campaign for the statewide office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, Dr. David Garcia has declared that he will work for innovation in Arizona’s public schools. Backed by appropriate resources — including positive leadership and responsible funding — this would provide better future opportunities to all Arizonans. Included is his commitment to ensure that students are getting the comprehensive, relevant information they need to best make decisions about all aspects of their lives.

As a public high school teacher, I know that my students’ sexual and reproductive health care education is an integral part of their overall education and empowerment. For instance:

  • If I never have another student ask me, “Miss, do you need to be a certain age to buy condoms?” or, “Where can I buy a pregnancy test?” — it will be too soon.
  • In my decade of teaching, I have seen more and more students being comfortable openly identifying as gay — and that’s awesome. But certain portions of our health curriculum, by law, do not allow health teachers to say that being gay is OK — or to give these students the complete and accurate information that is necessary to ensure their sexual health and safety.
  • I have had too many students who were abused as younger children and simply never had the correct words — in terms of consent, in terms of bodily autonomy — to name the wrong for what it was. Consequently, the abuse was long-lasting and the healing slow in coming.

When we empower our children to feel secure in their bodies and their identities, we empower them to pursue their educations, goals, and ambitions. In that light, I am pleased that PPAA has endorsed a candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction — because who we have in that office matters — and even more pleased that they endorsed David Garcia.

Dr. Garcia was kind enough to take the time for this interview on July 25, 2014.


“Planned Parenthood Advocates has taken a bold stance on changing state level leadership. I greatly admire and respect an organization that has the courage to call out policymakers not working for the greater good of Arizonans.”


Tell us a little about yourself.

I’ve devoted my career to improving public schools because I believe public education is the great equalizer in society and the reason I obtained the American Dream.

My dad was a commercial painter and my mom a factory worker. I grew up in Mesa, in a neighborhood where my parents still live. I wasn’t a great student, and it took enlisting in the Army for me to turn my life around and get serious about school. After the Army, I attended Arizona State University, becoming the first in my family to graduate from college. I went on to earn a doctorate in education policy studies from the University of Chicago. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Lela Alston for State Representative, LD 24

The Arizona primary election will be held on August 26, 2014. 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 primaries, you must register to vote by MIDNIGHT TONIGHT — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2014!

photo of Lela - headshot 4-2014 copyWhen we first interviewed Rep. Lela Alston two years ago, she’d made both reproductive justice and educational reform key issues of her campaign. Now, as she seeks her third term in office, representing the part of Phoenix that is Legislative District 24, her commitment to those issues has not wavered.

Ms. Alston was gracious enough to take the time for a telephone interview, transcribed below, on July 23, 2014.


“It’s wrong for lawmakers to be making medical decisions for people that they don’t even know.”


How has your commitment to serving Arizona grown over the past two years? On the policy level, what has happened during that time to give you hope, and what has happened to strengthen your convictions?

Well, I think what’s happened over the last couple of years is a breakthrough in the relationships between and across party lines. I spent some time in the Senate, way back when, and now I’ve served four years in the House. My first term, back in 2010, was very partisan in nature; there was not much working across the aisle. And, what has happened in the last two years, because of the issues that have come up and the circumstances, there has been a lot of bipartisan interaction and results. For example, we got the expansion of Medicaid passed; we killed bad bills like [SB] 1062. So all of those are hopeful signs to me.

That does strengthen my convictions about participation by individuals in the process. I see more people stepping up, being involved. When I see this, it’s not hopeless.

Last legislative session, you voted against HB 2284, which now permits the health department to inspect abortion clinics without a warrant. How do you explain to constituents the unique nature of abortion care and the need for heightened privacy and safety for patients?

I think that’s very easily explained, due to the past behavior of those people who opposed an individual’s right to choose. By that, I mean their behavior in the past has been to picket medical facilities, harass women who are perhaps alone or nearly alone, going in for advice or procedures or whatever. The harassment has been horrible.  Continue reading