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!
A competitive House race is underway in Legislative District 29, a West Valley district that includes Glendale and West Phoenix. Four Democratic candidates are competing in next month’s primary election, and the two winners will go on to face Republican challenger Aaron Borders in the November general election. Mr. Borders proudly touts his opposition to abortion rights, so it will be important to support our endorsed candidates in November.
The Democratic candidates are preparing for the primary election, which will be held on August 26. Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed three candidates running for House in LD 29: Richard Andrade, Denice Garcia, and Ceci Velasquez. Below is an interview with Ceci Velasquez — check out our interviews with Richard Andrade and Denice Garcia as well!
Ms. Velasquez took the time for an interview on August 18, 2014.
“It is of a great importance to have sex ed classes in our schools.”
Tell us a little about your background.
I am a third-generation Arizona native. I grew up in the Central Phoenix and West Valley areas. I am proud of my roots and strong heritage and I am committed to serving my community. I am a mother to five wonderful kids.
My profession is within the legal field; I currently serve as a paralegal for an accomplished Phoenix attorney in the areas of family, dependency, and criminal law, with experience in bankruptcy and election law.
Prior to working in the private sector, I worked for the State of Arizona in the area of social services for more than 10 years. My tenure at the State of Arizona helped me cultivate my passion to serve my community in a greater way. I earned an associate’s degree and paralegal certificate from Phoenix College and I’m currently earning a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice with a minor in nonprofit leadership and management from Arizona State University.
Earlier this year, the state legislature passed HB 2284, the warrantless inspection bill, 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?
I think safety and privacy is important.
In contrast to bills like HB 2284, what kind of beneficial legislation would you like to see introduced, and why do you think it’s important to fight for it?
I would like to see bills that keep sex ed in schools. It is important to inform our kids of the significance of having sex, not just to tell them not to have sex; STDs; women’s reproductive issues; and the responsibility (and struggle) of having a child at a young age.
Although Arizona was the first state to defeat a ballot initiative against marriage equality, it still doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage today. Earlier this year, the legislature passed SB 1062, which would have allowed businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ people. It was unpopular among Arizonans and vetoed by the governor. Where do you stand on LGBTQ issues, and do you believe Arizona is ready to make substantial progress in protecting the rights of its LGBTQ citizens?
I completely support the LGBTQ community. At the end of the day we all are human beings with feelings and we all deserve to have the same rights as the next person. Equality … It is time!
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? Do you support comprehensive sex education?
As I mentioned before, it is of a great importance to have sex ed classes in our schools. It does not encourage [sexual activity]; it’s a preventive measure. I was a teen mom myself. I feel if I had been more informed, I would have been responsible and waited to have my son — who, for the record, I do not regret having so young.
Why was it important for you to be endorsed by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona?
It is important to have PPAA’s endorsement for many reasons. I feel I represent the same values and beliefs PPAA does. This is especially important for the families in my district. I was uninformed about sex ed when I was young — as many teens like myself (Mexican-American, Catholic) were.