The Arizona primary election will be held on August 28, 2012. With so many recent legislative challenges to reproductive health care access, both nationally and statewide, the importance of this election year can’t be overstated. To help voters, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive health and freedom. Along with those endorsements, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates,” spotlighting each Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona-endorsed candidate. To vote in the primaries, you must register to vote by July 30 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2012!
Today we will focus on Martín Quezada, a lifelong Arizonan who earlier this year was appointed to complete the remainder of Rep. Richard Miranda‘s term in the Arizona State House of Representatives. On his Facebook page, Quezada characterized his two months in the House as “frustrating, saddening, infuriating, yet exciting, energizing, and exhausting” — and “the best two months of my life.” During this time, Quezada stood against the flurry of anti-family-planning bills that helped characterize the 2011-2012 legislative session.
“Patients should be allowed to make decisions about their health care with the advice of their doctor, not the legislature.”
Prior to his tenure in the House, Quezada built an impressive résumé working for the Democrat Caucus and the state legislature. After gaining this early political experience, he attended the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, where he was active in student government. After receiving his law degree in 2008, he completed a judicial clerkship, and has been practicing law and honing his skills as a community activist. In 2010, he was elected to the Pendergast Elementary School District Governing Board. What follows is an exclusive interview conducted on July 8, 2012.
Tell us a little about your background.
I was was born in LD 29, raised here, educated here, and have worked here. It is truly my home and my community. I worked for five years as legislative staff before leaving to attend law school. After graduating from law school I clerked on the Arizona Court of Appeals before starting my own law practice, where I still practice in criminal defense, domestic relations, and election law. I ran unsuccessfully for the House (in LD 13) in 2010. That same year I was elected to the Pendergast Elementary School District Governing Board. I was appointed to the Arizona House of Representatives in March 2012 in LD 13 to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Rep. Richard Miranda. I have served there since. I am truly proud of my public service and hope to get elected in 2012 to serve a full term.
What women’s health care issues do you think should be addressed in the legislature?
I think health care of all people should be a major concern for the legislature — and by that I mean ensuring that all health care needs are made accessible and affordable. Roadblocks that have been placed between women and their health care needs should be eliminated and all patients should be allowed to make decisions about their health care with the advice of their doctor, not the legislature.
Why do you think it is important that people make their own health care choices?
It is important for people to make their own health care choices because those are the most important decisions people will make in their lives because it impacts their very life. Those decisions should be personal and based on individualized wants/needs/beliefs and not influenced by a legislature’s beliefs that may conflict with an individual’s.
Why do you support comprehensive sex education in our schools?
I support comprehensive sex education in our schools because it’s simply common sense. Children need to be educated about their bodies, how they work, and how they can protect themselves and keep themselves healthy. It makes no sense to withhold this information from children and it serves to help them become responsible and healthy adults.
Why was it important for you to be endorsed by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona?
It was important for me to be endorsed by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona because I have found the organization’s positions on legislation to be responsible and well-informed. I have found that my votes have aligned with the positions PPAA has taken and I believe those votes will continue to align in the future. I want the support of the general membership of this organization as I believe that I will be able to be an advocate for the issues of importance to this organization.
You voted against a lot of bad legislation earlier this year: HB2625, HB2036, HB2800, and more. If voters elect less extreme candidates to the Arizona House of Representatives this November, do you foresee a change of trajectory away from the anti-family-planning direction our legislators have been taking the state in? How optimistic are you about repairing the damage that has already been done with these bills?
There have been a number of bad bills passed by an extreme legislature over the past few years. I definitely believe the future will change that, given the new maps created in the redistricting process and with hopes that voters will elect less extreme candidates. With these changes, I am hopeful for a change in trajectory and I am cautiously optimistic that we can indeed repair the damage created by these bills. A lot will depend on the outcome of this fall’s elections and how the voters respond to these attacks.
You can learn more about Martín Quezada or donate to his campaign by visiting his website at Martin2012.net. You can also follow him on Twitter. Quezada is running to represent Legislative District 29 in the West Valley area of Phoenix. With all the redistricting that’s taken place this year, you might not even know what legislative district you’re in — but you can click here to find out! And, regardless of which legislative district in Arizona you live in, you can contact us if you’d like to volunteer for an endorsed candidate in your area.