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!
Emily Verdugo is a candidate running for a seat in the Arizona House of Representatives, where she hopes to represent Legislative District 8 in the Pinal County area. Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona is not endorsing any other state representative candidates in the LD 8 primary. Though voters have the option of selecting two candidates, doing so may disadvantage Verdugo’s chances in her tight race. We recommend a single-shot* vote for Emily Verdugo in the House race.
“No one knows what is best for you and your family but you!”
What follows is an exclusive interview with Verdugo, who shared her views about access to reproductive health care and comprehensive sex education in Arizona. This interview took place on July 12, 2012.
Tell us a little about your background.
I am a native Arizonan, grew up in small, rural mining communities to Mexican parents. I moved to Pinal County when I was a teenager and have made my home here. I attended Arizona State University, where I earned concurrent degrees in history and political science. I also attended Northern Arizona University, where I completed my graduate studies in public management. I am a single mother of two young sons, and I work for a nonprofit grantee of the Workforce Investment Act program that provides job and skills training to farm workers. I am committed to ensuring that education and health care are at the forefront of my large rural district, and this includes accessible reproductive health and services.
What women’s health care issues do you think should be addressed in the legislature?
I personally feel that state legislature should not be talking about women’s health care issues unless it means ensuring women will have comprehensive health care and absolute power over their own reproductive choices. No legislation should be introduced regarding women’s health care without the majority of women sponsoring the bill! Women’s reproductive rights should include the right to affordable health care, a one-on-one personal relationship with the physician of their choice, access to contraception through health insurance, and have the basic right to privacy from their employer. This next legislative session, I hope there is a sensible majority in the legislature to repeal these invasive anti-woman, anti-family laws.
Why do you think it is important that people make their own health care choices?
Health is such a personal issue. No one knows what is best for you and your family but you!
Why do you support comprehensive sex education in our schools?
Comprehensive sex education is a part of securing a healthy, responsible lifestyle. This is also a public health issue, we must ensure that our children are protecting themselves from unwanted consequences. Children often get their information from their friends, and often it’s incorrect, but they need medically accurate information regarding fertility, STDs, sexual orientation, and emotional health. If we want truly productive adults, our children need all the tools available to make informed, mature decisions, which will include sexual health.
I have a 15-year-old nephew who has been educated by the three most influential women in his life: his mother, our other sister, and me, about the realities of having a sexual relationship. We not only trust that he will make responsible decisions, but we have also ensured that he is equipped with condoms if he does choose to engage in intercourse. We need him to be safe. We want all children to be safe.
Why was it important for you to be endorsed by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona?
After the terrible laws that were passed by the state legislature this past session, it made me actively seek the the endorsement of Planned Parenthood [Advocates of Arizona]. I am outraged! Why would a legislator dictate what choices I, or any woman, should make? Women and families across Arizona need a strong, rational, female voice that will defend them to make their own choices regarding reproductive rights and their rights to privacy from their employer, and defend their rights as an employee!
Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona endorses you in LD 8. The other two Democrats running with you in the primaries did not receive this endorsement. Can you discuss your feelings about the rights of women to make their own health-care choices, and how your sentiments differ from your LD 8 rivals?
My Democratic opponents are both anti-choice, which is unfortunate in a state where more than half of the voters are women! Being endorsed by PPAA is more than being pro-choice, it’s being pro-woman, pro-health, pro-education, pro-family.
Being the only woman in the race, I know exactly how important choice is. I am a single woman with two young children; I carry the responsibility, not only to myself, but to my children, to make good choices regarding contraception and health care. If I am irresponsible or careless, it can have a negative impact on my children. I am in this race to make a better Arizona for my children, and they need a healthy mother who can fight the good fight for all Arizonans.
I would like for voters in LD 8 to consider voting for the only female candidate who will protect women, families, and employees, because anti-woman laws affect us all negatively!
Emily Verdugo is running to represent Legislative District 8, a geographically large district including Globe, Florence, Coolidge, Oracle, and parts of Casa Grande. 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.
* What is Single-Shot Voting?
In the practice “single-shotting,” voters vote for one, and only one, candidate in an election, even though they can vote for as many as two. This increases the chances of the chosen single-shot candidate being elected. Since every voter gets two votes for state representative, if some of the voters use only one, then the candidate receiving that single vote automatically receives a greater percentage of the total votes cast, giving him or her a better chance at winning the election.
In single-shotting a candidate, you are in essence giving both of your votes to one candidate by not giving the second to another.