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

The Arizona primary election will be held on August 30, 2016. 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 primary election, you must register to vote by August 1 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2016!

[T]he West Valley is home to the 29th legislative district, where our endorsed candidate for Arizona Senate has deep roots. Martín Quezada is a staunch defender of reproductive rights, the LGBTQ community, and comprehensive sex education. He has consistently earned our endorsement since 2010, when he first ran for a seat in the House. As a state representative and then a senator, he has both talked the talk and walked the walk, including most recently when he introduced SB 1019, which would have dismantled the “No Promo Homo” statute that effectively blocks Arizona teachers from mentioning LGBTQ people in sex education curricula.

“Since being first elected I have earned the respect of my colleagues, my constituency, even my opposition.”

Compare his record to that of his challenger in August’s Democratic primary election. Lydia Hernández, his Democratic opponent, made her opposition to reproductive rights known in 2013 when she signed the Center for Arizona Policy’s statement denouncing Roe v. Wade. The stark contrast between Sen. Quezada and Ms. Hernández highlights the critical importance of registering to vote and participating in every election — including the primaries!

With no Republican challengers, the race for the LD 29 Senate seat will be decided in August, so if you skip the primary election and wait until November’s general election to cast your ballot, it will have been too late to throw your support behind Sen. Quezada. We need him in the Senate to continue to stand strong against the bad bills introduced by the opposition — and to continue introducing legislation that would make Arizona a healthier and safer place to live.

Sen. Quezada generously took the time to answer our questions on July 1, 2016.

Two years ago, you prevailed over Lydia Hernández in a very tight primary race, and she is challenging you again this year. How did you do a better job representing your constituents over these past two years than Ms. Hernández would have, and how will you continue to do so?

To be clear, I have prevailed over Lydia Hernández in each attempt she has made to challenge me. I knocked her off the ballot in 2010 after discovering nomination petition forgeries, I defeated her in the 2012 appointment process to fulfill the LD 13 House vacancy. I defeated her in the 2012 Primary, finishing in first place in the House race, and I defeated her in 2014 as you mentioned above.

Since being first elected I have earned the respect of my colleagues, my constituency, even my opposition in the political world. I have remained true to the values of the people of LD 29 and been a consistent voice for the issues most important to them at the Capitol. Hernández has gone further down a path of being an outsider and an agitator and has grown more and more extreme in her views and has openly and proudly betrayed the values of our constituency by endorsing such extreme politicians as Gov. Doug Ducey and Secretary of State [Michele] Reagan.

I will continue to be a voice that LD 29 can be proud of because that’s all I know how to do. LD 29 is my home, I have roots here, and I share the struggles and the successes of the people of my district. I take pride in giving them a voice at the Capitol.

In the most recent legislative session, you sponsored SB 1019, which would have repealed legislation forbidding teachers from presenting same-sex behavior in a positive light or educating LGBTQ students about safer sex methods. Why do you think it’s so important for sex education in Arizona to be inclusive of all students?

This was a critically important bill because it’s all about common sense and the safety of our kids in our schools. Educators want to provide accurate and meaningful information to kids at a time in their lives when they need it the most. The outdated, discriminatory, and shameful language in the statute now prevents us from being inclusive and acknowledging the true spectrum of identities and expressions that is present in our student population.

I offered this as an amendment later in the session after Republicans killed this bill at the start of the session, and the debate that ensued was eye-opening in terms of how out of touch our decision makers are at the Capitol on this issue. I’ll continue to push for this type of change because all of our kids in our schools deserve to be treated with respect and deserve to receive important information that will keep them sexually, emotionally, and physically safe.

On a related note, you also co-sponsored SB 1020, which would have made sex education opt-out rather than opt-in. Can you explain why this seemingly small change would have made such a big difference?

This has been a pretty common strategy used by the other side to kill an issue, effort, program, payment, or anything else that they philosophically disagree with. This small change takes advantage of the overwhelming amount of information being considered by parents when dealing with their children’s education. The hope is that sex education will fall to the bottom of the priority list and parents will simply forget to opt-in to this program and the children will then never receive the benefits of that education.

Allowing for opt-out instead would ensure that all kids at least initially receive that information and parents can choose to opt-out of it to accommodate their personal beliefs. Opt-out provisions are simply more safe and more realistic given the enormous amount of information being considered by parents when dealing with their kids’ education.

Arizona made nationwide headlines when it passed a law requiring medication abortion to be administered using a protocol that is no longer supported by the FDA. As a lawmaker, what do you think your role is in legislating medical practices?

With only very few exceptions, Legislators are not doctors. We should not try to pass policies that interfere with the effective practice of medicine. This law was an effort to insert political ideology into medical practice. That is a dangerous precedent and a dangerous way to govern. I absolutely oppose any such measures.

Finally, you voted against HB 2599, which lays the groundwork for Arizona to kick Planned Parenthood out of AHCCCS, our state Medicaid program. If that happens, AHCCCS patients couldn’t choose Planned Parenthood for their preventive health care and birth control needs. Do you think Planned Parenthood health centers play an important part in keeping Arizonans healthy?

Planned Parenthood plays a vital role in keeping Arizonans healthy. The political attacks against PP are shameful and only do a disservice to the health of our state. We must stand up against these attacks and inform voters of the great services that PP provides to our community.

To learn more about Martín Quezada’s background and views on reproductive health and comprehensive sex education, read the interviews we’ve conducted with him in 2012 and 2014. Then check out his website, like him on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter!

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