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 general election will be held November 6, 2018, with early voting beginning on October 10. Voters need to be registered by October 9 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!
[R]etired U.S. Air Force Col. Hollace “Holly” Lyon is facing Republican Mark Finchem for a seat in the Arizona House in Legislative District 11, which fans out from the Interstate 10 corridor across northwest Pima County into Pinal County. A Washington state native and resident of SaddleBrooke, she first spoke to us in 2014, when she won our endorsement but not her race. Her position on women’s health — now as then — is that it should be accessible to all, and that no woman should be made to feel guilty or ashamed about seeking whatever care she needs.
“Democracy doesn’t work if people don’t work at it, or are hampered from being involved.”
Before joining the military, Col. Lyon taught middle school for a year, and supports comprehensive sex education for young people as an integral part of health care. She retired from the Air Force after 26 years of service, gaining expertise as an information technology expert. Her last Air Force assignment was as the Pentagon’s director of education and training for 90,000 IT personnel. She then worked in the private sector. Retiring once more in 2008, Holly moved to Arizona with her wife, Linda, to care for her mom.
Col. Lyon took time from her busy campaign in August to answer our questions by email.
Since we last spoke, how has your commitment to serving Arizona grown? What has happened during that time to give you hope, and what has happened to strengthen your convictions?
Much has happened to give me hope and to strengthen my convictions. Dr. Hiral Tipirneni’s close race [in a special election against former Arizona Sen. Debbie Lesko, a Republican, for an open seat the 8th Congressional District] was not just inspiring because of her great showing, but also because she ran largely on a health-care-for-all platform, and the voters responded to it! That gives me hope that voters are beginning to recognize the role that government plays in their lives, either for better or worse — and it should be, and can be, for better.
I’m also strengthened by the many conversations I have with voters who want to see the parties cooperate to deliver for them, and believe they are ready to vote, and speak up, to make that happen. We need voters involved. That’s democracy, and it doesn’t work if people don’t work at it, or are hampered from being involved.
What will be your first action as an elected official in 2019?
I want to do what I can to make the Legislature more responsive to the people, not only in the present but long into the future. I think the best way to do that is to pass ethics legislation that will ensure elected officials in Arizona are held to a higher standard than even our state employees, and that they are serving the people of Arizona rather than big-money special interests. I want to ensure elected officials at all levels of Arizona’s government are mindful of their obligations to be professional, and treat taxpayer dollars just as they treat their personal dollars: with thought, planning, and respect.
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 targeted regulations, access to family planning, and so-called conscience clauses?
It is ironic that a state that was one of the first to give women the vote is now working so hard to take away our right to make even our own health care decisions. To get us back on track, our state Legislature should pass the Equal Rights Amendment to make a strong statement for, and help secure, women’s rights. We also need legislation that allows for protected, ready access to reproductive health services across the state, and respects the privacy of discussions and decisions made between patients and their medical providers.
One tenet of my platform is to “Protect Our Communities,” and that’s why I will support quality family planning services, which have done more than any law ever will to ensure the reduction of unwanted pregnancies, leading some to make the painful decision to abort. The truth is, the abortion rate in the U.S. is now at its lowest level since Roe v. Wade, and a study by the Guttmacher Institute found countries with the most restrictive abortion laws also have the highest rates of abortion. Family planning works, not only for families, but for our communities and state as well.
What can state legislators do not just to safeguard existing LGBTQ rights in Arizona, but to move them forward?
Refer a Constitutional amendment to the people that recognizes and ensures the equality of all Arizonans and prohibits discrimination.
Reps. Mark Finchem and Vince Leach supported increasing regulations on abortion and giving more power to Republicans when drawing legislative district boundaries. Do you think their voting records are in line with the wishes of LD 11’s constituents?
No. I think most constituents were not aware of Finchem’s and Leach’s voting records until, perhaps, the #RedForEd movement shined a light on them. Now, more LD 11 voters are understanding how these lawmakers have contributed to underfunding our public district schools and many other public services, like roads, public safety personnel benefits, etc.
What is the most significant thing you can do as an elected official to Stand With Planned Parenthood?
Put my actions where my words are. Introduce and support appropriate legislation to protect women’s rights and help spread the word about why we don’t want to go back to the pre-Roe v. Wade days of only clandestine and dangerous reproductive services mostly rendered by unqualified practitioners. Also, by attending Planned Parenthood events and standing tall in support of adults who want to plan their parenthood.