The Arizona general election will be held on November 8, 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 election, you must register to vote by October 10 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2016!
Mitzi Epstein is running for the Arizona House of Representatives in Legislative District 18. LD 18 includes all of Ahwatukee, parts of west Chandler, south Tempe, and west Mesa. Ms. Epstein is a small business owner, former state Parent Teacher Association leader, and American Youth Soccer Organization leader. As a community problem solver, she has spent her life working at both the community and state level to strengthen the economy.
“We need updated, comprehensive, medically accurate, and age-appropriate health and sex education curriculum that is inclusive of all.”
Ms. Epstein generously shared time with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona via telephone on September 9, 2016, to discuss her background and her campaign.
Tell us a little about your background.
Professionally, for many years I was a computer systems analyst and team leader for multinational corporations such as Olin Brass, Inc., Citicorp Mortgage Inc., and Aerovox Corporation. I now own my own small business called Custom Language Training. In 2004, I was elected to the Kyrene Elementary School District Governing Board where I served for four years.
Personally, I have been married for 33 years. We have lived in our home for 20 years now, and have two adult sons who live in Boston and New York. I am passionate about the community, working collaboratively to improve our quality of life. I have served on the boards of several community organizations including AYSO, American Youth Soccer Organization. To be the best coach I could be, I worked to earn a National D Coaching license from USSF. To be the best school board member I could be, I earned a Master of Boardsmanship from ASBA, the Arizona School Boards Association.
What kind of beneficial legislation would you like to see introduced, and why do you think it’s important to fight for it?
I would like to see legislation that restores education funding so that we can recruit and retain quality teachers. When we have thriving schools, we have a thriving economy, which results in a better and happier life. Currently, we have a teacher shortage and our best teachers are leaving the state.
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?
On the state level, we need updated, comprehensive, medically accurate, and age-appropriate health and sex education curriculum that is inclusive of all. In the Kyrene School District, we formed a community committee to address health and sex education issues and the process worked. Regular updates are important for all districts to keep the science up to date.
In her Center for Arizona Policy survey, your opponent Jill Norgaard says she’s in favor of prohibitions against abortion. How do your views differ from those of Rep. Norgaard, and why do you think it’s important that people make their own health care decisions?
My views are the opposite of Rep. Norgaard’s. I believe that abortions should be rare, legal, and safe. Health care choices should be up to a woman, her family, her faith, and her doctor. Neither your government nor your boss should make this intensely personal decision. The state already has too many regulations on abortions. Government has no business dictating in life-or-death health decisions or traumas of abused women. Doctors should prescribe according to the needs of individual patients, not the whims of politicians.
Your other opponent, Bob Robson, supported HB 2599, which lays the groundwork for Arizona to kick Planned Parenthood out of Arizona’s state Medicaid program. If that happens, AHCCCS patients couldn’t choose Planned Parenthood for their preventive health care and birth control needs. How do your views on Planned Parenthood differ from those of Rep. Robson?
Again, my views are the exact opposite. Choice is American. We want choices about everything. He is wrong to try to kick out one provider from a program through legislation.
Why was it important for you to be endorsed by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona?
Planned Parenthood addresses women’s health. It is not your boss’ business to determine what form of contraception a woman should use or how a woman should respond to any other health care issues. Legislators are not qualified to determine how things should be prescribed. Prescribed practices should be left to science, not legislators.