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!
[D]iego Rodriguez is a passionate advocate for civil and human rights — whether he’s fighting for his clients as a defense attorney, or he’s fighting for working families. As a lifelong resident of Arizona’s Legislative District 27, he has centered his life on service to his community. In today’s political climate, LD 27 needs a leader who is willing to stand up and say “Enough!”
“The current political climate demands that we stand up for what we believe in.”
Legislative District 27 includes South Phoenix and Laveen and has historically been a solid Democratic stronghold. In recent years, however, Catherine Miranda, an opponent of abortion rights, has represented LD 27 — and has failed her constituents, the majority of whom support full access to reproductive health care.
When it comes to women’s health and medically accurate sex education, there is no question that Mr. Rodriguez will stand for Arizonans’ well being. LD 27 is home to a strong team of candidates who have earned Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona’s support. We have endorsed Diego Rodriguez and Reginald Bolding to fill the district’s two House seats, and Rebecca Rios to represent LD 27 in the Senate.
While catching up with the busy candidate, on August 2, 2018, he graciously answered some questions regarding his campaign and his vision for Arizona.
Please tell us a little about your background and why you’re running for office in this political climate.
I am the proud father of two great kids, and an attorney with my own legal practice. I have lived in Laveen, Arizona, since 2011. I did not grow up in Arizona, and I first moved to Tucson in 1992 to attend law school at the University of Arizona. On my first morning in Tucson, I recognized our state’s potential and I decided then and there that Arizona is where I would make my home after graduation. I started practicing law in Tucson in 1995 as a prosecutor. From day one, my entire legal career has been directed by a single purpose: to serve justice.
I am running for office because it is a natural continuation of my lifelong effort to serve justice. My community and the values that I believe in are constantly under attack from groups who don’t believe in a woman’s right to make her own reproductive decisions, the free exercise of voting rights, LGBTQ rights, economic equity, and public education. Fighting for justice and fairness has always been part of who I am, and the current political climate demands that we stand up for what we believe in.
What will be your first action as an elected official in 2019?
I intend to introduce a bill to close special interest tax loopholes to help generate reliable, long-term funding for our public schools. Once we address the public school funding crisis, we can move on to the other important challenges our state is faced with right now.
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?
State legislators should be the leaders in protecting our reproductive rights. As a legislator, I will fight to repeal Arizona’s conscience clause statute because access to reproductive health care must not be restricted because of another person’s bias or prejudice. I will also use the communication power that comes with being an elected official to advocate for and protect access to reproductive health care.
What can state legislators do not just to safeguard existing LGBTQ rights in Arizona, but to move them forward?
First we must introduce legislation to ban gay conversion therapy. Next we need to make it clear that LGBTQ citizens are included in our state’s anti-discrimination laws. We must also partner with members of the business community to encourage a commitment to raising awareness about LGBTQ workplace rights and protections.
What other issues are you fighting for?
I am fighting for working families by fighting for good jobs that pay a livable wage, access to affordable health care, and meaningful criminal justice reform.
What gives you hope for the future of Arizona?
I have hope for the future of Arizona because every day I see more and more people stand up for honesty, integrity, and equity.
What is the most significant thing you will do as an elected official to Stand With Planned Parenthood?
I will use my access to other elected officials at all levels of government to advocate for and protect Planned Parenthood’s public funding and I will stand with Planned Parenthood as an ambassador to the community, in order to help educate the people I represent about the very important programs and services Planned Parenthood provides to those who need them the most.
What sets you apart from other candidates seeking to represent Legislative District 27?
One of the most important differences between myself and my opponent, Roberto Sanchez Garcia, is that I fully support a woman’s right to control her reproductive decisions. I consider the fight to preserve and protect a woman’s right to choose to be a fundamental part of my progressive values. I believe in standing with my allies and I stand 100 percent with Planned Parenthood in defense of reproductive freedom.