The Arizona primary election will be held on August 26, 2014, and early voting began on July 31. 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.” Make your voice heard in 2014!
Dr. Randall Friese is running to represent central and northwestern Tucson in the House of Representatives. On July 23, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Dr. Friese at Bentley’s House of Coffee & Tea to discuss his campaign. We talked about his background in medicine, his position on reproductive rights, and the stark contrast between him and his Republican opponent, Ethan Orr.
I found Dr. Friese to be personable and passionate about Arizona. He is a man who has a deep commitment to this community, and will work hard to do what is best, regardless of where that takes him. He and fellow Democrat Victoria Steele have both earned our endorsement, and we hope that voters will send them to the Capitol in November to represent Legislative District 9!
“Sex education is necessary for a stable career, which benefits everybody.”
Tell us a little about your background.
Currently I am a trauma surgeon. After I finished my service with the United States Navy, I was faculty in Texas. I had the opportunity to go to a few places, but my wife and I chose Tucson, and this is our home now.
After the [2011 Tucson] shooting, I started paying attention to what was going on at the Arizona State Capitol. I wanted to participate. I enrolled in two programs with Leading for Change Arizona, and with the support of some great people I made the decision to enter politics.
In the general elections, you will be running against Ethan Orr to represent LD 9. Some view Orr as a moderate, but, given his positions on reproductive rights and governmental interference with women’s health care decisions, do you believe that characterization is accurate?
No. He has allowed himself to be characterized that way and does nothing to refute or support it. His views on guns show that he is not a moderate. He has a greater than 90 percent rating from the NRA and voted for the “guns everywhere” bill, which the governor vetoed. He signed a proclamation that said he would overturn Roe v. Wade and supports [fetal] personhood.
Mr. Orr is an opportunist, not a moderate.
Earlier this year, the state legislature passed HB 2284, which permits the health department to inspect abortion clinics without a warrant. What do you think about the need for heightened privacy and safety for patients seeking reproductive health services?
These decisions are personal and private and there needs to be some consideration for them. Privacy must be respected and it should be made no more difficult to make this decision.
In contrast to bills like HB 2284, what kind of beneficial legislation would you like to see introduced, and why do you think it is important to fight for it?
Education. Prevention is the best solution. I would like to see legislation about sexuality education for young people.
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 pregnancy and high-school dropout rates? Do you support comprehensive sex education?
Absolutely. The two are related. One of the best things a state can provide is education. Sex education is necessary for a stable career, which benefits everybody.
In June, an appeals court affirmed the right to perform medication abortions in accordance with an evidence-based protocol, when the state legislature wanted abortion providers to use an outdated method. As a physician, do you think there is a place for politicians to legislate best practices for health care providers?
Best practices need to be set by clinicians. I find it difficult for a non-clinician to regulate best practices.
As a native Tucsonan, I have to ask: Is Tucson home now?
Yes. My mother-in-law has joined us and bought a house. This is home now.
Is there anything else you would like the voters to know?
I want people to know me and make their own decision. I want the people to be able to pick the person they know, and can trust how they will vote, who will best represent them. I don’t tell anyone to vote for me, I just tell them, “This is who I am and what I believe.” With some representatives, you never know how they will vote. With Mr. Orr, on some things, like guns, you know how he will vote, but some votes are a mystery. I want people to know me, and know how I am going to vote, because I have told them.