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!
[A]rizona’s Legislative District 11 covers an area northwest of Tucson that includes Oro Valley, Picture Rocks, Marana, and Catalina, and extends as far north as Casa Grande. Steve Smith is our current senator, known for his anti-choice record and involvement in the 2013 lawsuit that sought to eliminate Arizona’s Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.
“Reality-based comprehensive sex education is necessary if we are serious about reducing STDs and unwanted pregnancies.”
This district, or the previous district that covered much of this area, has been represented by Democrats in the past in both the state Senate and the House, and can be again. I was therefore pleased to interview Ralph Atchue, who is running in LD 11 to unseat Sen. Smith.
Mr. Atchue generously took the time to answer our questions on July 10, 2016.
Tell us a little about your background.
[I’m a] 33-year employee of the United States Postal Service — all in Illinois. [I’ve spent] 12 years [as] steward and local president with the National Association of Letter Carriers, and 21 years representing the National Association of Postal Supervisors. Retired as a postmaster.
[I’m a] four-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force. Moved to Arizona in 2005. Worked as a volunteer in campaigns from 2006 to 2014 — Obama, Kirkpatrick, McGuire campaigns. Worked for the past three years with others to rebuild the Casa Grande Democrats — [I have served as] secretary/treasurer, Democratic P.C., and member of the ADP state committee.
What kind of beneficial legislation would you like to see introduced, and why do you think it’s important to fight for it?
A. Tax policy ensuring everyone pays their fair share. Freeze high income/corporate tax cuts. Complete review of current tax loopholes — eliminating those judged to not support economic/job growth.
B. Restoration of public education funding from kindergarten though university in compliance with the state constitution. Restoration of funding for community colleges and JTED schools. Reduction of all tax funding of private education via vouchers back to the original intent — accommodation of handicapped student needs. Complete transparency and accountability of charter school management.
C. Investment in infrastructure repairs.
These legislative priorities will change the trajectory of the state’s economic growth to one of sustained improvement and provide a more equal access to opportunity for every Arizonan.
Some Arizona school districts, like Tucson Unified School District, are beginning to include comprehensive sex education in their classrooms, but progress has been slow. How would you like to see sexuality education addressed on a statewide level?
I fully support fact- and science-based accurate education in every subject. Reality-based comprehensive sex education is necessary if we are serious about reducing STDs and unwanted pregnancies — denial of reality is dangerous.
Why do you think it’s important that people make their own health care decisions?
The U.S. was founded on protection of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Every individual’s freedom to self-determined health decisions is unequivocally bound to that protection.
Why was it important for you to be endorsed by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona?
I am and have always been an outspoken advocate for equality of rights and opportunity for every person. Planned Parenthood advocates for that same ideal. For too long, women have been denied full access to their right of making their own health care decisions — Planned Parenthood affords them that right. In many instances, low-income women are not able to find affordable health care and preventive screening — Planned Parenthood affords them that opportunity. The lack of family planning help has led to a loss of opportunity for many — Planned Parenthood provides options. I am very proud to be endorsed by PPAA — and support not only PPAA’s existence but advocate for expansion of its vital services across Arizona.