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 need to have been registered to vote by August 1. Missed the deadline? You can still register online for November’s general election. Make your voice heard in 2016!
The 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. It is a beautiful section of the state, and given that it is a rural district, its constituents have different needs compared to their urban counterparts in metro Phoenix and Tucson. Alex Martinez, our endorsed candidate for the Arizona House of Representatives in LD 6, seeks to help meet those needs.
“We have a vested interest in women’s health care issues and providing family planning services.”
Alex Martinez, a fifth-generation southwest native, was born, raised, and educated in Arizona, where he earned a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, and an Ed.D. at the University of Arizona. Additionally, he is a Navy veteran, having served six years in the enlisted ranks and 30 years as an officer.
Martinez has been a public school teacher, principal, and superintendent, and his experiences in Arizona’s public schools give credence to his belief in the importance of sex education as a resource students need to ensure they have all the information needed to make healthy decisions. In an interview on July 25, 2016, Martinez told us he would like to “introduce legislation that provides funds to districts that provide sexuality education,” as well as to “provide funds to develop a statewide program so that there is uniformity with instruction.”
While living in Tucson, he was a program director for maternal child care at the Office of Economic Opportunity, and managed a grant that provided family-planning services in Pima, Santa Cruz, Cochise, and Greenlee counties in Southern Arizona. These experiences drove home for him how vitally important birth-control access is to those who depend on it. If elected to the House, he would seek to support, rather than block, legislation that would expand access to family-planning services. As he told us, “We need legislation that is proactive of women’s health issues and pro-choice.”
Fewer health-care providers and longer distances to clinics can make it difficult for many rural Arizonans to access health care — especially reproductive health care. As Dr. Martinez told us, “Having access to family planning services and medications in rural areas is a challenge for low-income women. Clinic services and transportation are also challenges for low-income women.” Until recently, Arizonans outside of Pima and Maricopa counties had to travel long distances to obtain abortion care — it was only in 2014 that Planned Parenthood’s health center in Flagstaff was able to start dispensing medication abortion, aka the abortion pill, expanding abortion access in a more rural corner of the state.
Unfortunately, the health-care needs of LD 6 aren’t currently being served by their representatives at the state Capitol. LD 6 has been represented in the House of Representatives by Brenda Barton and Bob Thorpe — both of whom have abysmal records when it comes to birth-control access and abortion rights. Their votes for HB 2599 helped lay the groundwork to deny state Medicaid recipients the right to receive preventive health care and birth control from Planned Parenthood, while their votes in favor of SB 1324 put severe restrictions around the use of medication abortion. These votes have direct impact on their constituents in the Flagstaff area, who depend on Planned Parenthood as a Medicaid provider and source for preventive health services. Additionally, Rep. Barton and Rep. Thorpe’s votes to restrict use of medication abortion would further limit access to abortion in a region that didn’t have access to this procedure until just two years ago.
Furthermore, both Rep. Barton and Rep. Thorpe fought against Medicaid expansion in Arizona, a battle that, if successful, would have denied Medicaid and CHIP coverage to more than a quarter-million Arizonans, including their own constituents. And, back in 2014, both Rep. Barton and Rep. Thorpe voted in favor of SB 1062, which would have given businesses the right to discriminate against LGBTQ folks — or anyone else against whom they could claim a religious justification for discrimination. This bill was so extreme that even then-Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, vetoed it.
Martinez seeks to shift the balance of the 6th legislative district’s representation in Phoenix. The Arizona House of Representatives gives each legislative district two seats, and Alex Martinez hopes to win enough votes to take one of those spots from either Rep. Barton or Rep. Thorpe, which would add a moderating influence to LD 6’s representation at the Capitol. For this reason, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona recommends that voters cast a single-shot vote for Alex Martinez in November’s general election. (A single-shot vote is when a voter casts a ballot for only one candidate in a race in which they are allowed to vote for two or more candidates. When you vote for only one candidate instead of two, that vote is given more weight, and the candidate has improved odds of winning the election.)
Not only are we proud to endorse Alex Martinez in the LD 6 House race, Martinez is proud to receive our endorsement. When asked why it was important to him to be endorsed by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona, Martinez told us that he shares Planned Parenthood’s values: “We have a vested interest in women’s health care issues and providing family planning services. I am PRO-CHOICE.” We certainly agree!