Meet Our Candidates: Tammy Caputi for State Representative, LD 23

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!

Tammy Caputi scaled[T]ammy Caputi’s business, Yale Electric West, buys and distributes lighting and electrical supplies for large commercial construction projects. It’s also a metaphor for what she says she intends to do as a public servant.

“For the last 15 years, I’ve provided light fixtures that light up our valley, and now I want to help light up our state House,’’ she said to us in a July 31 email.

The New England transplant, married for 12 years, lives in Scottsdale, where she’s active in the Jewish community, her Democratic legislative district, and physical fitness activities.

“Women’s voices matter. I cannot and will not be shushed.”

“I am an outspoken feminist and a fierce advocate for women’s rights, particularly reproductive rights,’’ she said. “How can anyone possibly run for public office and not be a feminist?’’

Below are her answers to Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona’s questions.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m running for the House of Representatives in District 23, Scottsdale/Fountain Hills/Rio Verde, because I want to make a difference. I’ve lived in Scottsdale for 20 years; Arizona is my home. I’m a successful local business owner, homeowner, and taxpayer. I have three children in the public school system and I want the best for them. I also want the best for the people in our communities. Our current representatives are not representing all of us. I want everyone in our district to have a voice.

I have a B.A. from Wellesley College in economics and women’s studies, and an MBA from Simmons College Graduate School of Management. I have three young daughters who I am raising to be strong, independent, self-confident women.  Many people have told me that I have to hide my feminism to run for office. A feminist is anyone who believes in the social, economic, and political equality of women.

The values of my campaign are: opportunity for all citizens, responsibility from all citizens, and a community where every member has a voice. I am committed to working on a better government that amplifies the voices of all the members of our community.

What kind of beneficial legislation would you like to see introduced, and why do you think it’s important to fight for it?

I want to be in the Legislature to fight for all the issues that matter to women, which are all the issues the Republican Party platform opposes: reproductive rights, birth control, health care, equal pay, the ERA, the environment, minimum wage, our schools, our children’s welfare. I am loud and proud about supporting issues that matter to women. These are economic issues that affect all citizens. Women are more than half of the population and a part of everyone’s family. Every issue that impacts women impacts everyone. We do not need to hide or apologize for standing up for what is right, and what is important to us. We are not a special interest. Women’s voices matter. I cannot and will not be shushed.

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 would like to see the rules that were passed for districts like Phoenix and Tempe Union High School districts expanded to apply to all our public school districts. We should want all children to be successful and transition to adulthood, and the way to best ensure this happens is allowing for inclusive health education. Inclusive for all students. Not just the biological facts, but lessons on creating healthy relationships, protecting oneself from STDs and unwanted pregnancies, and about consent and respect for others. Sex education should be mandatory, and parents should have to opt out, not opt in. We need to pass resolutions refuting limits of current state law and pass non-discrimination policies that protect students, teachers, and staff.

Keeping our children in the dark about their bodies and sexuality serves no purpose, other than to drive up unwanted teenage pregnancy rates, which many of our legislators claim to want to decrease. If our legislators actually cared about life and wanted to decrease unwanted pregnancies, they would fully support medically accurate sex education and birth control. A person who truly supports life does not force a woman to give birth against her will, while doing absolutely nothing to support or value women and children. States that are most hostile to abortion and women’s rights provide the least amount of social support for families. Clearly the goal is keeping women powerless, not protecting embryos.

Jay Lawrence and Michelle Ugenti-Rita, who you will face in November’s general election, supported HB 2599, which lays the groundwork 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 this vote was in line with the interests and values of LD 23’s constituents?

No, I think Michelle Ugenti-Rita and Jay Lawrence represent only a small, far right-wing extremist segment of District 23. I’m running for office because I think there are a large number of voters in LD 23 whose voices are not being heard. People in this district value personal freedom and less government in our lives. Limiting health care choices for people goes directly against these values. They also claim to value “life,” and decreasing social services that help people live better lives is inconsistent with these values.

Why do you think it’s important that people make their own health care decisions?

By people, I assume you mean women, since there is no way in which men are restricted from making their own health care decisions, unless they’ve become incapacitated; but even then their desires can be directed through a health care proxy. Pregnant women are the only people in our country who are prohibited or greatly restricted from making their own health care decisions. When a woman becomes pregnant, she is expected by social conservatives, who claim to value life, to give up her basic human and constitutional rights to autonomy, privacy, and dignity and become an incubator for the state, against her will. This greatly demeans mothers and motherhood, which is one of the biggest decisions a woman will make in her life, and must be freely chosen. Otherwise, we are not sovereign citizens. Government has no place in people’s bedrooms or doctors’ offices. Inserting the government between a woman and her doctor is demeaning and dangerous. Politicians are not qualified to make medical decisions for others.

Why was it important for you to be endorsed by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona?

It is important for me to be endorsed by PPAA because they represent my values. Without control over our bodies and reproductive systems, women cannot plan our lives or futures, and we will never achieve equality or freedom. Many people feel a woman daring to plan her own life is revolutionary — a serious threat to the status quo and the world as we have always known it. Women have been required to sacrifice their own needs and desires to others for centuries. I believe it’s time for that kind of thinking to end. Women have every right to put our needs, and those of the families we wish to create and be a part of, first. Men are never told they are selfish for putting their work or dreams ahead of the desire to have a family. It should be no different for women.

To learn more about Tammy Caputi’s background and platform check out her website and like her on Facebook!

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