The time to fight back — and fight forward — for reproductive justice is fast approaching. The stakes are high in this year’s state election, with candidates for governor, secretary of state, attorney general, and other races on the ballot. The Arizona primary election will be held August 28, 2018, and early voting began on August 2. Voters need to have been registered by July 30 to cast their ballots. Reproductive health has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who put our health and our rights first. Get to know them now in our series of “Meet Our Candidates” interviews, and make your voice heard in 2018!
Legislative District 20 represents Northwest Phoenix and is a little on the red side; however, it had one of the highest early return rates for Democratic early votes in the 2016 election and the Congressional District 8 special election has galvanized networks, voters, and Democrats — which is a new feeling for Legislative District 20.
“I want to create change with you and be a voice for you.”
There are two contenders in the state Senate race, both completing our intersectional endorsement questionnaire with a score of 100 percent. The PPAA Board of Directors brings together a wide range of community members in making election decisions. Together, they evaluate candidates and campaigns to determine how to invest the dollars of our donors — and the sweat of our volunteers. PPAA supports candidates willing to stand and fight with Planned Parenthood, and given the current political environment with the reactivation of so many grassroots voters, we’re looking to Matthew Marquez to take the Senate seat in Legislative District 20, which is currently held by Sen. Michelle Yee, an infamous opponent of Planned Parenthood.
Mr. Marquez was gracious enough to share his responses with us as he took a break from campaigning on July 30, 2018.
Please tell us a little about your background and why you’re running for office right now in this political climate.
My story begins here, in Phoenix, with my mother. As a single parent, she took on the role of both my mother and my father, working several jobs but still making sure she was there in the morning to take us to school. She took my brother and I to all our practices and games, and supported us wholeheartedly. I don’t know how she did it but I know we had what we needed. My story, unfortunately, is not unique.
For my family, education was a valuable tool and the key to my success. My mother was instrumental in making sure that I understood the importance of a quality education. I want to ensure this is reflected and instilled in the community I’m serving. This means students, families, and all Arizonans have the right to a quality education and I promise to make this issue a priority in our state.
For about 10 years, I worked in the nonprofit sector serving families of children with disabilities. I advocated on behalf of families to get support services and community resources. I had the opportunity to work directly with families but faced roadblocks, and this evolved into my passion for creating systemic change. These experiences opened my eyes to the injustices and difficulties faced every day by the families I served. This led me to my next goal, fixing our state in the political space. I am running for office because time and time again, I heard empty promises and I never saw change. I want to create change with you and be a voice for you, fighting relentlessly for you, your family, the middle class, the working poor, the voiceless, and the oppressed.
What will be your first action as an elected official in 2019?
My first action as an elected official will be to push forth a bill that expands Medicaid in our state. The intention of this bill is to capture families and individuals who have fallen through the cracks due to an inaccessible health care system. We have spoken to people across the district who have voiced their concerns for high health care and prescription costs, some even having to choose between the health of their child and keeping their home while working full time.
The uncertain future of the Supreme Court highlights the importance of protecting our rights at the state level. How can state legislators stem the tide of attacks on reproductive rights, for example by addressing so-called conscience clauses, targeted regulations, and access to family planning?
As a legislator, I will introduce laws that prohibit using religion as a base for discrimination. By no means does this mean taking away freedom of religion or freedom to practice religion, but when it harms another individual we cannot allow for this discrimination to occur. We can also educate Arizonans on the benefits and importance of access to family planning, inclusive sex education, and affordable health services.
What can state legislators do not just to safeguard existing LGBTQ rights in Arizona, but to move them forward?
Along with the help of other legislators, we will get rid of the “No Promo Homo” law that exists in our state. This Arizona law mandates:
“No district shall include in its course of study instruction which:
- Promotes a homosexual life-style.
- Portrays homosexuality as a positive alternative life-style.
- Suggests that some methods of sex are safe methods of homosexual sex.”
This law is harmful to public health in Arizona and especially to those who identify as LGBTQ+. This allows for erasure of identity for students that can cause lifelong trauma.
What other issues are you fighting for?
We are fighting for funding for education and special education, increases in teacher pay, additional resources in the classroom, funding for extracurricular activities, and funding for after-school programs. We are also fighting for more accessible and affordable community college and universities in our state, along with alternative solutions to traditional education. This means access to joint technical education districts, career and technical education, and technological courses that prepare all students for the future.
We are fighting for healthy families in our district. This means fighting for affordable and accessible health care, eliminating food deserts, better air quality, and preserving our natural environment and habitats.
Lastly, we plan to fight for economic equality in our district. This includes fighting for a livable wage, promoting family leave after the birth, adoption, or fostering of a child or children, fighting for affordable housing in our district and state, bringing back collective bargaining, and ensuring corporations pay their fair share of taxes.
What gives you hope for the future of Arizona?
Seeing the growth of the progressive movement along with the empowerment and involvement of diverse, underrepresented, and marginalized communities in different spaces.
What is the most significant thing you will do as an elected official to Stand With Planned Parenthood?
I will advocate for inclusive sex education in classrooms, take away tough restrictions and barriers to obtaining an abortion (including the “why” question they recently implemented), eliminate No Promo Homo laws, advocate for autonomy of women’s reproductive rights and women’s health care, and educate other elected officials and the community about the services offered by Planned Parenthood.