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 sprawling 6th Legislative District covers a large swath of rural Arizona, from the Grand Canyon in the north to the Tonto National Forest in the south, and from Jerome in the west to Holbrook in the east. LD 6 is currently represented in the state Senate by Sylvia Allen, who in the past has opposed Medicaid expansion and whose record on education is not stellar; as head of the Senate Education Committee, Sen. Allen blocked legislation that would have improved sex education in Arizona, making it medically accurate, inclusive of all students, and opt-out rather than opt-in.
Education is the “best investment we can make for the future of Arizona.”
As a young mother, Nikki Bagley has a personal stake in improving Arizona’s education system so that our state is not only a beautiful place to live, but also a better place to raise a family. As a former city council member and mayor of Jerome, she has ample experience balancing budgets and serving her constituents. As Senator, she would replace Allen’s extremism with a moderating influence that is more in line with her district’s values. For these reasons and more, Ms. Bagley is our endorsed candidate for Senate in LD 6.
Ms. Bagley generously took the time to answer our questions on July 12, 2016.
Tell us a little about your background.
I am an Arizona native, farmer, teacher, and mother. I currently run the viticulture program at Yavapai College and am also the former mayor of Jerome. These experiences have helped to shape me as a person and my campaign for state Senate, particularly my focus on education and issues important to rural Arizona.
What kind of beneficial legislation would you like to see introduced, and why do you think it’s important to fight for it?
We simply must restore funding for education and begin to develop a comprehensive funding structure for our public schools without creating fiscal cliffs and perennial crisis. This is the very best investment that we can make for the future of Arizona.
When it comes to health care access, particularly sexual and reproductive health care access, what unique needs do your more rural constituents face?
Rural Arizona has unique needs when it comes to health care access. First and foremost is the fact that health care centers are often spread out, making it more difficult in some instances for people seeking care, and this results in more travel for them, which also increases the financial burden. We also face issues dealing with education and awareness of health care needs.
Your Republican opponent, Sylvia Allen, voted for 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 health centers provide critical services to those in need, such as cancer screenings, educational materials, and STI testing. These services go a long way in helping people lead healthy, productive, and responsible lives.
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 support this effort. Comprehensive education of this nature helps prepare teenagers to lead healthy and responsible lifestyles when they become young adults.
Why was it important for you to be endorsed by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona?
I believe in uniting as many people and groups as possible to foster a more productive political climate for our state. I think it’s important to emphasize education and health care in my campaign platform, as these are issues critical to my district and the state as a whole. This campaign is about reaching out to anyone and everyone who wants to make Arizona a better place for families and our children.