The Arizona general election will be held on November 6, 2012, and early voting is underway. 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.” Make your voice heard in 2012!
Mesa’s legislative district hasn’t had a candidate like Greg Gadek in several years. In the last two election cycles, the Republican candidate in Legislative District 25 has run unopposed, even though in Mesa, Democrats and independents together outnumber Republicans — a majority that Gadek believes isn’t being represented by the far-right conservatism that’s become so entrenched in the legislature.
“The deeply personal issues of reproductive choice and whom to choose as a domestic partner or spouse should be considered fundamental freedoms and protected by Arizona law.”
Running as an alternative to what he has called “a good old boy network” and “business as usual,” Gadek has received Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona’s endorsement for his commitment to reproductive freedom and access to reproductive health care. He also noted in his interview with PPAA that he is the first person to run for office in Mesa who supports marriage equality.
Located in Maricopa County, the newly redistricted LD 25 comprises approximately half of Mesa, including Dana Park, The Groves, Hohokam Park, Red Mountain Ranch, Riverview, Las Sendas, and Superstition Springs. Gadek generously took time for an interview with PPAA on October 16, 2012, to talk about his candidacy.
Please tell us a little about your background.
My name is Greg Gadek and I am the Democratic candidate for state Senate in Mesa’s newly redistricted LD 25. I have been a resident of our Mesa district for over 25 years and, with my wife Jennifer, have raised our family here. I have been a registered independent for most of my life but my views have always been closely aligned with the Democratic Party.
Arizona Republicans have merged to the extreme far right and I believe that it is time to stand up and take our state back to the middle. Regardless of your party affiliation, if you are frustrated and angry with Mesa’s “politics as usual,” our campaign gives you a real choice. I hope to have the opportunity to meet you in person over the coming weeks and months. And I hope that you will join me.
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?
I will oppose all attempts to restrict access to and choice of contraception. Women, like men, should have complete control over their health care decisions without government or employer interference.
Recent legislation undermining reproductive health is an example of the extremism and misguided priorities at the state capitol. Legislators who have turned their back on the program may be surprised to learn that federal support for family planning was championed by Republican President Richard Nixon, who said that “no American woman should be denied access to family planning assistance because of her economic condition.” I agree with this view. Efforts to defund family planning programs are detrimental to the health and safety of women and their families. Health centers including Planned Parenthood provide access to critical services like STI and cancer screenings and contraception. We must continue to support family planning as a critical source of health care for thousands of Arizona women.
Additionally, Arizona has a critical role to play in successfully implementing our nation’s new health care law, the Affordable Care Act. As a state senator, I will work to ensure that the contraceptive and reproductive health coverage the law extends to all Arizona women is protected and strengthened, not undermined. This includes ensuring Arizona’s health insurance exchange and regulations protect the ability of women to make their own health care decisions.
In a survey submitted to the Center for Arizona Policy, your opponent Bob Worsley indicated that he supports banning abortion except when a mother’s life is at risk. He also indicated that he opposes same-sex marriage, domestic partner benefits, and laws that protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation. What are your thoughts on the harm his positions do to sexual health and freedom?
Bob has been attempting to portray himself as a moderate despite his extreme right-wing views. He has been a board member of United Families International, which I see as the “cousin of CAP.” They have endorsed him in this campaign. I support the law of the land since 1973: that women have a constitutionally protected right to terminate a pregnancy. I am also the first candidate to run for office in Mesa who supports marriage equality. The deeply personal issues of reproductive choice and whom to choose as a domestic partner or spouse should be considered fundamental freedoms and protected by Arizona law.
Why do you think it is important that people make their own health care choices?
Decisions regarding health and medical care are deeply personal and should be made between a patient and health care provider without interference from the government or employers. Further, we need to work to ensure that women’s health care choices are not undermined by inability to afford certain services. For example, the provision of the new health reform law that requires insurance to cover a broad array of contraceptive choices without cost sharing will dramatically improve efforts to prevent unintended pregnancy. A recent study published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that this new policy may prevent as many as 71 percent of abortions performed annually in the U.S.
Why do you support comprehensive sex education in our schools?
Benjamin Franklin said that “an investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” He was right. Studies show that youth who receive comprehensive sex education delay sexual activity, increase contraceptive use, and experience far less teen pregnancy. Comprehensive sex education — not abstinence-only programs — help our young adults remain healthy. In equipping our children with the information they need to understand their bodies and make informed choices, I support evidence-based, comprehensive sex education.
Why was it important for you to be endorsed by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona?
Access to high-quality, comprehensive reproductive health care is essential to the health and economic opportunity of women and their families. As a provider of over 64,000 patient visits per year, Planned Parenthood Arizona is a critical resource for Mesa women. I stand with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona in their fight to protect access to women’s health care — a fight we shouldn’t have to have in the first place — and am proud to have their endorsement as a partner in this effort.
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.