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!
In Legislative District 22, which serves approximately 85,000 people and covers ground including Sun City West, Mountain Vista, Surprise, and Lake Pleasant, Bonnie Boyce-Wilson and Larry Woods ran unopposed during August’s Democratic primary for two seats in the House of Representatives.
In this November’s election, both Wilson and Woods face incumbents David Livingston and Phil Lovas, both of whom also ran unopposed in their Republican primary. Both Livingston and Lovas exclude the LGBTQ constituents of LD 22. Both voted in favor of SB 1062, which, if it had passed, would have allowed businesses to refuse service to LGBTQs under the excuse of “freedom of religion.” Livingston states that “marriage is only between a man and a women [sic]” and is opposed to legislation that would allow unmarried domestic partners the same employee and health benefits as married couples. Livingston is also against an anti-discrimination law that would add “sexual orientation,” “gender identity,” or “gender expression” to the protected classes of race, religion, age, sex, and ancestry.
The women of LD 22 are also not high priorities for either incumbent. Both voted in favor of HB 2284, which currently allows unannounced inspections of abortion facilities in Arizona. Lovas voted for HB 2036, which would have prohibited abortions after 20 weeks if it wasn’t unanimously struck down by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco for violating a woman’s constitutional rights. Livingston is opposed to abortion and believes “it is the duty of our government to protect the unborn.”
Not content with the legislative decisions being made on behalf of his community, Woods decided to run and “do something about it.”
Mr. Woods was kind enough to talk to us on October 13, 2014.
“I would be proud to have a Planned Parenthood flag hanging outside my office — and I would defend it.”
Tell us a little about your background.
I was raised in a progressive household in a small town in Iowa. After receiving a degree in mathematics and psychology from a small college, I went on to receive a master’s degree in computer science from Purdue University. My career was with a Fortune 100 company where I worked in various information technology management roles.
My wife Diane and I moved to Scottsdale in 1998, and on to Sun City West in 2003. Ever since moving to the Valley I have been involved with many nonprofit organizations as a volunteer and in many cases, as a board member. I have also been involved with state government through membership in various committees.
Earlier this year, your opponents, David Livingston and Phil Lovas, voted for HB 2284, which permits the health department to inspect abortion clinics without a warrant. What do you think about this new law?
In my opinion, the purpose of this law is to create a threatening environment for both the clients and the employees of abortion clinics.
Your opponents also voted for SB 1062, which was widely interpreted as an attack on the LGBTQ community. How do your views on protecting LGBTQ rights differ from those of your opponents?
SB 1062 and its supporters were pandering to their base of religious fundamentalists. The LGBTQ community has been subjugated to discriminatory practices for decades. I do not “see” LGBTQ! I see members of our society. All of our citizens should be afforded the same set of rights, regardless.
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?
I don’t have a specific bill that I would be offering on day one, but I would support any bill that protects and promotes the equality of women and the LGBTQ community, or any other group that might be singled out to be treated adversely based upon selected cultural, religious, or ethnocentric beliefs.
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 far as the connection between teen pregnancies and dropout rates, I would expect the dropout rate to be much higher with girls than boys. I support comprehensive sex education. Sexual discussions are a taboo that needs to be squelched once and for all. Many may not realize it, but in the 1800s sex was not a taboo subject for discussion. Death was.
Why do you think it’s important that people make their own health care decisions?
The short answer is that an individual’s health care decisions affect the individual, and in most cases only the individual. When decisions affect the family, then the family needs to make those decisions. There are certain situations where society as a whole might be affected by an individual’s decisions, and in those cases then I can see intervention, but this would only be where there was an immediate threat to others. An example of this is the present concern over Ebola. In this case, the decisions of the individual might well affect others’ health. But, in another example, the decision to terminate a pregnancy does not affect the health of others, and therefore should be left to the individual.
Why was it important for you to be endorsed by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona?
I want to go to the Legislature being known as someone who will stand up for all segments of our society; a legislator who will not be swayed by special interests. I would be proud to have a Planned Parenthood flag hanging outside my office — and I would defend it.