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 have been registered to vote by October 10. Make your voice heard in 2016!
Michael Muscato was born and bred in Arizona, leaving the state briefly to play baseball, then moving to California, where he taught himself to be a recording engineer — a career that sent him around the globe supporting touring musicians and other entertainers. The year 2013 saw his homecoming to Peoria, where he raises his family in the community in which he grew up and now seeks to represent in the Arizona Senate.
Legislative District 22 includes Sun City West, Mountain Vista, Surprise, Peoria, and Lake Pleasant, and is currently represented in the state Senate by Judy Burges, who opposes comprehensive sex education, believes in severe restrictions on abortion, and would not include LGBTQ folks in nondiscrimination laws. Given that she doesn’t stand for the rights and health of her constituents — in the ability of children to learn about sexual health and healthy relationships, in the ability of women to control their bodies and fates, or in people’s right not to be discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity — it’s time to replace Sen. Burges with someone who will stand for all of LD 22’s electorate.
“I actually care about people and fight for their interests and needs over those of corporations and special interests.”
In fact, it was his deep disappointment with Sen. Burges’ performance as a senator that compelled Mr. Muscato to run for the Arizona Senate. As he wrote in Your West Valley, “Nothing about her voting record on issues is in support of children, families, or small businesses. She has repeatedly voted against funding public education, continuously voted against KidsCare, and voted to cut TANFF for those most in need of help.”
Mr. Muscato generously took the time to answer our questions on October 10, 2016.
Tell us a little about your background.
I am a 32-year-old former minor league baseball player drafted by the New York Yankees. After finishing baseball I became a self-taught engineer and quickly became a director, crew chief, and systems engineer for some of the most famous entertainers in the world for their national and international tours and concerts. I am also a small business owner in LD 22, having started a CrossFit gym three years ago based on a passion of mine, which is fitness. I am the father of two little boys (Cooper, 21 months, and Canton, 2 months). I am happily married to my amazing wife, Alicia, and I could not be more proud to be in a position to represent my hometown this election.
What kind of beneficial legislation would you like to see introduced, and why do you think it’s important to fight for?
There is a lot to get done in this state. I will work very diligently to pass prison reform in an effort to prioritize and direct our general fund money to Arizona citizens for needs like health care, education, infrastructure, etc. … I firmly believe the changes we seek and need can and will only be done if our elected officials make people the priority of our state budget.
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 feel that this should be up to the schools but I fully support comprehensive sex education. We had it when I was in school. I still can remember the laughs and the awareness I gained as a fifth and sixth grader when we had sex-ed classes. I’m pretty sure watching the live birth video pushed back my experience at least a couple years, so thank you, sex ed!
Your opponent, Judy Burges, 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 Sen. Burges?
Like nearly everything Judy represents, this issue is no different. I would be the exact opposite of her should I be elected. I’m not sure what her agenda is with most of her votes, but I will do everything I can to fight legislation like HB 2599. The real difference between myself and Judy is that I actually care about people and fight for their interests and needs over those of corporations and special interests.
Why was it important for you to be endorsed by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona?
Equality is important to me. I know Planned Parenthood gets a bad rap from many misinformed and/or misled voters and protesters. Having traveled the world many times, I can appreciate the efforts of Planned Parenthood. I believe their endorsement is an endorsement of my willingness to help my community and my character. So thank you for the endorsement.