Meet Our Candidates: Martín Quezada for State Senator, LD 29

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 July 28 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2014!

The 29th legislative district’s current state senator, Steve Gallardo, is not seeking reelection, and now Martín Quezada and Lydia Hernández are vying for the open seat in the Democratic primary election. Martín Quezada has deep roots in Legislative District 29, a West Valley district that includes Glendale and West Phoenix. He has used his background in law and passion for public service to represent the interests of his constituents, standing strong against bad bills that have been introduced over the past several years.

In so doing, he’s stood up for reproductive-health patients’ right to privacy, fought for the dignity of the LGBTQ community, protected the right to receive an abortion after 20 weeks, and fought to keep state funding for preventive health-care services provided through Planned Parenthood Arizona.

Mr. Quezada and Ms. Hernández have served alongside one another as seatmates representing LD 29 in the House; however, when it comes to reproductive rights, they could not be more different. This race could very well be decided in the primary election, highlighting why it’s so very important to vote in every election — including the primaries!

Mr. Quezada generously took the time to answer our questions on July 19, 2014.

“My opponent differs from me in several areas, but women’s rights and women’s health choices is one of the clearest distinctions.”

It’s great to talk to you again! 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?

My commitment to serving Arizona has grown tremendously over the past two years since I’ve gained a deeper understanding of how to be an effective legislator. During my first full term, as a “rookie,” I’ve used this time to learn as much as possible and improve my skills as a legislator. I’ve been hugely successful in that regard and my performance reflects that. Through that learning process, my appreciation and love for public service has only deepened.

On the policy level, we saw Democrats make significant achievements with the help of a few moderate Republicans to pass significant legislation that would benefit the entire state. Those achievements, though politically difficult, gave me hope that more successes and better policy could be enacted in the future.

Yet, my convictions were strengthened because of some of the extreme and hyper-partisan bills pushed by the Republican Party. Some bills this past year that were extremely homophobic or blatantly discriminatory in nature reminded me that despite our advancements, that type of hatred is still alive and well, and we need to be vigilant in our efforts to defeat those efforts.

Arizona Mayors released a report stating that high school dropouts cost the state $7.6 billion over the course of their lifetime. What do you think about the connection between teenage pregnancy and high-school dropout rates?

This seems like a fairly obvious connection to me. In addition to serving as your State Representative, I am also currently the president of the Pendergast Elementary School District Governing Board, and in that role, we are especially aware of the harmful effects of teenage (and even younger) pregnancies. I will always be an adamant supporter of a comprehensive sex education program for our kids. We must do all we can to reduce teenage pregnancies to give our kids a better chance at success in the future.

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?

These facilities need unique treatment because they provide unique services. To group them with every other health clinic in a “one size fits all” method simply ignores the reality about the services provided here and the need for confidentiality in order to protect patient safety, and encourage them to seek services they need.

In June, an appeals court affirmed the right to perform medication abortions up to nine weeks in accordance with an evidence-based protocol, when the state legislature wanted abortion providers to use a more restrictive, outdated method. Why is it important that politicians leave the practice of medicine to doctors?

The practice of medicine should be left to professionals in that field: doctors. By seeking to make these changes, the legislature is imposing their political beliefs and assumptions into a relationship between a doctor and their patient, which the doctor has spent years studying in detail, practicing as an expert and earning the trust of patients.

Your Democratic opponent in the LD 29 Senate race is Lydia Hernández, 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?

My opponent differs from me in several areas, but women’s rights and women’s health choices is one of the clearest distinctions. My opponent has very publicly proclaimed her anti-choice stance by signing the above mentioned statement that was authored by Arizona’s most extreme organization, Center for Arizona Policy, and sponsored by one of the Arizona Legislature’s most extreme anti-choice members, Rep. Debbie Lesko. These stances are baffling, especially coming from the district that we both represent, where these issues have dramatic impacts on the lives of women and their families on an almost daily basis.

Roe v. Wade continues to be valid law despite the protests from extremists to the contrary. As the valid law of the land, it should be respected as such. But it should also be protected because it’s simply good public policy. Despite my opponent’s harmful stances, I have always been an adamant supporter of full access to reproductive health care, comprehensive sexual education for our children, and respecting the confidentiality of a woman’s health care decisions made with her doctor. My opponent’s stances could actually possibly shift the stance of the Democratic Caucus, and, as a result, of the entire Senate chamber if elected. That’s why it is so critical to support a candidate who will vote with your interests in mind to the LD 29 Senate seat. I hope I’ve earned your vote.

To learn more about Martín Quezada’s background and views on reproductive health and comprehensive sex education, read the interview we conducted with him in 2012. Then like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter!

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