The Arizona primary election will be held on August 29, 2017. 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. In order to vote in the primary election, you must have been registered to vote by July 31. Early voting began on August 2. Make your voice heard in 2017!
Paul Durham has been involved in the Tucson community since 2004, when he worked on political campaigns and became involved in the Democratic Party and Stonewall Democrats. After years behind the political scenes, Mr. Durham has decided to take his passion for his community to the voters of Ward 3, which covers the northwest portion of the city. He cites education as a key issue in his campaign, along with sustainable energy and better public transportation. Of his endorsement from PPAA, he said, “I will do all in my power … to support Planned Parenthood and its mission and stand up for it when Donald Trump attacks.”
“Truly comprehensive sex education that includes LGBTQ youth is very important.”
Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona announced its endorsement of Paul Durham early last month, and he generously took time for an interview with us on August 1, 2017, to tell us more about his background and his campaign.
Tell me a little about your background.
I was born in Spokane, Washington, where my dad was an elementary school principal. He taught me the value of education, which is probably why I went out and got a bunch of degrees. I did my undergrad in Washington, law school at Stanford, and later got an MBA at the University of Colorado. I practiced law for over two decades, advising businesses and helping them grow. I moved to Tucson in 2004 and worked full time on the John Kerry [presidential] campaign. I was the campaign manager for Tucson City Council Member Nina Trasoff’s 2005 campaign and served as her chief of staff after she was elected. I also served as treasurer of the Pima County Democratic Party. In my free time, I enjoy cycling and serve on the board of El Grupo Youth Cycling, a local nonprofit working to empower youth through bicycles.
Why do you think it’s important that people make their own health care decisions?
I believe it’s simply a fundamental human right. No government, other organization, or other person should make those decisions for someone else.
What can Tucson do as a city to contribute to health and wealth of Arizona overall?
A friend of mine told me a story after the holidays. His daughter had graduated from U of A about 10 years ago and moved away for a job. When she was visiting for the holidays she saw more good job opportunities, more entertainment, more restaurants, and other things to do in Tucson. She told her dad that if she were making that same decision today, she would stay in Tucson. We need more of that same kind of progress.
In addition to supporting Planned Parenthood’s excellent Margaret Sanger Health Center, of course, Tucson can contribute to Arizona’s health by continuing to develop outdoor recreation opportunities, both for its residents and as a tourist destination for sports like golf, cycling, and hiking.
What is your vision for Tucson?
I have a vision for a solar-powered, sustainable Tucson. I’d like Tucson to be the most environmentally sustainable city in the Southwest and power city government on 100 percent renewable energy by 2025.
Why was it important for you to be endorsed by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona?
As an openly gay man, I was honored to be endorsed by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona. I lived through the AIDS crisis and watched many friends die. I know that the STD testing and contraception Planned Parenthood provides saves lives. Planned Parenthood’s advocacy for truly comprehensive sex education that includes LGBTQ youth is very important. In addition, for many transgender youth, especially in rural communities, the nearest Planned Parenthood clinic is often the only place they can go for transition-related care.
Is there anything else you would like the voters of Tucson to know?
Tucson needs “New Energy for the Old Pueblo” — that’s my campaign slogan. It has a double meaning — I’ll work to bring more solar energy to Tucson of course, but I’ll also bring new ideas and experience to the Council and the same high level of energy and commitment (I’ll be a full-time Council member) that I bring to everything I do.
To find out what Tucson city council ward you live in, check this website. To learn more about Paul Durham, visit his website. You can also follow him on Facebook. You can contact us if you’d like to volunteer for an endorsed candidate.