The Arizona general election will be held on November 4, 2014, and early voting is already underway! 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!
[E]sther Durán Lumm is currently seeking to represent Legislative District 21 — an area that includes El Mirage, Peoria, and part of Glendale — in the Arizona House of Representatives, and is the only House candidate we endorse in that district. We recommend a single-shot vote for her — voting for Esther Durán Lumm and no other House candidate will give more weight to your vote.
She kindly took time for an interview on October 10, 2014.
“If Americans are ensured of the pursuit of happiness, they must be entitled to choose their own life partners and lifestyle without government dictating to them its version of right or wrong.”
Tell us a little about your background.
I’m a native of Arizona, born of immigrant parents from Mexico. I am married and have a blended family of five children, 12 grandchildren, and one great-grandson. I retired in 2001 after working for Bull Information Systems, Inc., formerly Honeywell, for 27 years as an editor for their worldwide newsletter, a supervisor, a technical writer, and a project manager. Prior to that I worked for Mountain Bell as a directory assistance operator for five years, and a member of the Communications Workers of America Union.
Simultaneously to my career at Bull Information Systems, I worked part-time as a facilitator for victims of domestic violence at Faith House. I have been an advocate for education, working people’s rights, children’s rights from K through 12, faculty and administrators’ rights in higher-education colleges, and laborers’ rights. My advocacy efforts have been voluntary through the Arizona Hispanic Community Forum, an advocacy organization of which I am a member since 1987.
Earlier this year, one of your opponents, Rick Gray, voted for HB 2284, which permits the health department to inspect abortion clinics without a warrant. What do you think about this new law?
I am opposed to this law, as it violates women’s rights. I see it as just another unjust movement to keep women as second-class citizens.
Rick Gray also voted for SB 1062, which would have allowed discrimination based on religious beliefs. Your other opponent, Tony Rivero, indicated on his Center for Arizona Policy survey that he would have supported such a law. How do your views on discrimination and religious freedom differ from those of your opponents?
SB 1062 is one of the reasons I chose to run for office. It is another example of the discriminatory and divisive laws that the current legislators focus their energy on instead of concentrating on education, creating jobs that pay a decent living, and protecting Arizona’s children, elderly and the environment in which we live. SB 1062 is discriminatory, period!
If Americans are ensured of the pursuit of happiness, they must be entitled to choose their own life partners and lifestyle without government dictating to them its version of right or wrong. That is a decision between the individual and their own beliefs. SB 1062 does just the opposite of ensuring religious freedom, it interferes with religious freedom. This is a frivolous, discriminatory bill that tries to control people.
In contrast to bills like HB 2284 and SB 1062, what kind of beneficial legislation would you like to see introduced, and why do you think it is important to fight for it?
We must focus on bills that return to public education the funds that were removed in order to weaken and eventually destroy public education. It’s important because if we don’t educate the public, then they will not be prepared to fill the job and career positions from businesses that are attracted to Arizona, and they will not be able to support their families in a manner that adequately provides for their basic needs and also allows them to contribute to the economy. We must also introduce bills that protect children’s, women’s, elderly’s, and voter’s rights because if you don’t put laws in place to do this, you will always have suffering and disenfranchisement in our Arizona community.
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?
I support comprehensive sex education because I believe that the majority of adolescent students are not receiving this level of sex education at home. I believe that if we do have comprehensive sex education it will reduce the number of teenage pregnancies and therefore high-school dropouts. Education is pretty much the key to life experience improvements.
Why do you think it’s important that people make their own health care decisions?
One of the reasons I think it’s important that people make their own health care decisions is because I believe that the organized religious movement has erroneously convinced people that the only reason organizations like Planned Parenthood exist is for abortion. This is far from the truth; these types of organizations provide vital prevention care and serve to inform people of diseases, prevention, and overall wellness.
Another false belief is that the only way to deal with pregnancy is to have a child and give it up for adoption. Nice thought, but not realistic. Last night’s news reported more than 16,000 of Arizona’s children live in foster care. At least 700 of these foster children reach age 18 annually and are exited out of foster care without a support system, without a job, without a home, and left to fend for themselves in a very scary world. And so we have to ask ourselves, where were all those kind citizens that were supposed to be there to adopt these children? Nice thought, but it’s just not factual.
Why was it important for you to be endorsed by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona?
It was important because I want voters to know that I am a very strong advocate for women who make their own health decisions because they have the constitutional right to do so. Women have struggled for their rights for centuries, and even in the 21st century, have not yet reached the same level as that of men when it comes to rights, salaries, career movements, etc. We must progress forward until we reach equality in all aspects.