Meet Our Candidates: Scott Prior for State Senator, LD 16

The Arizona general election will be held on November 6, 2012, with early voting starting on October 11. After the many recent legislative challenges to reproductive health care access, both nationally and statewide, the importance of voting in November 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 spotlighting our endorsed candidates in a series called “Meet Our Candidates.” To vote in the general election, you must register to vote by October 9 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2012!

[A]s a facilities engineer for a Phoenix-based company, Scott Prior has to be a problem-solver, and as a candidate for state senator, he wants to put his problem-solving to use in Arizona politics. Prior took time for an interview with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona, and in that interview, he touched on some of the problems this state faces: a high teen birth rate, biased and inadequate sex education in our schools, legislation that interferes with private decisions between doctors and patients, and a religious agenda that stands in the way of a woman’s right to choose.

“Arizona has … the sixth highest teen birth rate in America. All of the top 6 states have one thing in common: abstinence-only sex education.”

Prior’s campaign platform includes positive positions on many of the issues that matter to Planned Parenthood supporters. He opposes mandatory transvaginal ultrasounds before abortions, supports inclusion of reproductive health insurance in company insurance plans, and supports same-sex marriage and equal benefits for same-sex couples.

Prior seeks to represent Legislative District 16, a district in Pinal and Maricopa counties that includes Apache Junction and Gold Canyon, as well as parts of San Tan Valley and Mesa. His interview with PPAA took place on September 26, 2012.

Please tell us a little about your background.

I am a facilities engineer for a company located in Phoenix. I was raised in a military family, and was taught at a young age self-reliance, responsibility, and respect for others, regardless of our differences. Most of my school years were spent in the Panhandle of Texas, where I graduated valedictorian of my high school class in 1986. I continued my education at West Texas State University (now West Texas A&M), and spent two years working professionally in California. After moving to New Mexico, I began working at the Intel Corporation facility in Rio Rancho. Since then, I have worked on Intel facilities in New Mexico, Arizona, Oregon, and California. My wife and I finally settled down in Apache Junction in 1998, where we have been ever since. Much of what I have done over the years involves solving problems, which requires logic, not personal beliefs. I believe that this is an advantage to me, and hope that if I’m elected, I can bring that type of problem solving to the state capitol.

In the previous legislative session, there were a lot of bad bills that negatively affected access to birth control (HB2625), funding for family planning (HB2800), abortion (HB2036), and unbiased information about unintended pregnancies in public schools (SB1009). What kind of beneficial legislation would you like to see introduced, and why do you think it’s important to fight for it?

First, I would like to see all of those bills repealed. Those bills are specifically to push a specific religious agenda, even though abortion was legalized by Roe v. Wade. It is a right for a woman to make her own choices, without government or religious interference. I would like to support legislation that will continue to allow organizations such as Planned Parenthood to continue their work. I would also support repealing legislation that allows doctors to refuse giving accurate information that might affect a woman’s right to choose. I think that government should spend more time governing and less time interfering with the private lives of its citizens. I would support an amendment to the Arizona Constitution preventing this type of legislation.

Your opponent, Rich Crandall, has been in hot water recently after leaving State Rep. Brenda Barton an angry voice message. He let his personal emotions interfere with his work, and they also seem to be at play in his views on abortion. He has mentioned his adoption as a child as the reason he supports defunding Planned Parenthood and upholding Arizona’s 20-week abortion ban. Particularly in regard to women, do you feel he is taking the interests of his constituents into consideration in his decision-making?

I do believe that he and many others are making legislation and decisions based on their own specific beliefs, even when their constituents disagree. I had a friend who was raped in college, and Planned Parenthood was the only organization that treated her as a person and helped her through it. I will always support an organization that helps people regardless of beliefs or financial status.

Why do you think it is important that people make their own health care choices?

No one in this world is the same. That is why it is so important that the individual, with their physician, make all of their own health care choices without interference. That is the only way that a doctor can customize the treatment for the individual, so that they have the best possible health care available. The insurance company should not be making medical decisions, and neither should government.

Why do you support comprehensive sex education in our schools?

Arizona has the abysmal record of having the sixth highest teen birth rate in America. All of the top 6 states have one thing in common: abstinence-only sex education. Pregnancy is preventable if students have access to logical, age appropriate, and scientifically factual sex education in our schools. Comprehensive sex education will have a great deal of impact in reducing the amount of teen pregnancies in Arizona. It will also allow students to understand the proper use of birth control and the dangers of STDs.

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 am a man who believes in fighting for the rights of men and women. So many people benefit with the help of Planned Parenthood, and that message needs to be given to everyone. Planned Parenthood is not about abortions. Planned Parenthood is about providing health care and family planning in an affordable manner, so that everyone can benefit, not just people who have full insurance or have the financial ability to afford it.

To find out more about Prior, you can visit his official campaign website, his Facebook page, or his YouTube channel. You can also follow him on Twitter @PriorForSenate.

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 legislative district.