Meet Our Candidates: Lorenzo Sierra for State Representative, LD 19

The Arizona primary election will be held on August 28, 2012. With so many recent legislative challenges to reproductive health care access, both nationally and statewide, the importance of this election year can’t be overstated. To help voters, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive health and freedom. Along with those endorsements, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates,” spotlighting each Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona-endorsed candidate. To vote in the primaries, you must register to vote by midnight today (July 30) — and you can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2012!

Lorenzo Sierra is one of four Democratic candidates running in the primary in Legislative District 19, which covers the West Valley, Tolleson, and Avondale. Of these four Democrats, Sierra is one of only two, along with Mark Cardenas, to be endorsed by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona because of his positive positions on women’s health and choice issues.


“Planned Parenthood is just one organization that has been unfairly misrepresented by the current legislature.”


Sierra is an accredited business communicator and an experienced community leader who has served on several boards that have had positive impacts on the women and families of Arizona. One of the boards, Parenting Arizona, has worked to increase funding to parenting resources that strengthen home environments for children. Another, Xico, promotes indigenous arts and culture through community-based arts programs.

In July 2012, Sierra shared his views on women’s health and comprehensive sex education in this exclusive interview.

Tell us a little about your background.

I am an Arizona native who grew up in Tucson. I was the first person in my extended family to attend college. I even worked five part-time jobs my senior year at Arizona State University in 1992. I went on to have a successful marketing career with a few Fortune 500 companies. While working for those companies, I was able to serve on several statewide boards, including the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Governor’s Commission on Service and Volunteerism, Chicanos por la Causa’s Parenting Arizona, and Xico. I live in Avondale with my wife Rhonda. My son Adam is a freshman at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. My son Roman is an eighth grader in the Gilbert School District. And my stepdaughter Megan is a double major junior at ASU. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Emily Verdugo for State Representative, LD 8

Emily Verdugo for Legislative District 8The Arizona primary election will be held on August 28, 2012. With so many recent legislative challenges to reproductive health care access, both nationally and statewide, the importance of this election year can’t be overstated. To help voters, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive health and freedom. Along with those endorsements, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates,” spotlighting each Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona-endorsed candidate. To vote in the primaries, you must register to vote by July 30 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2012!

Emily Verdugo is a candidate running for a seat in the Arizona House of Representatives, where she hopes to represent Legislative District 8 in the Pinal County area. Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona is not endorsing any other state representative candidates in the LD 8 primary. Though voters have the option of selecting two candidates, doing so may disadvantage Verdugo’s chances in her tight race. We recommend a single-shot* vote for Emily Verdugo in the House race.


“No one knows what is best for you and your family but you!”


What follows is an exclusive interview with Verdugo, who shared her views about access to reproductive health care and comprehensive sex education in Arizona. This interview took place on July 12, 2012.

Tell us a little about your background.

I am a native Arizonan, grew up in small, rural mining communities to Mexican parents. I moved to Pinal County when I was a teenager and have made my home here. I attended Arizona State University, where I earned concurrent degrees in history and political science. I also attended Northern Arizona University, where I completed my graduate studies in public management. I am a single mother of two young sons, and I work for a nonprofit grantee of the Workforce Investment Act program that provides job and skills training to farm workers. I am committed to ensuring that education and health care are at the forefront of my large rural district, and this includes accessible reproductive health and services. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Katie Hobbs for State Senator, LD 24

The Arizona primary election will be held on August 28, 2012. With so many recent legislative challenges to reproductive health care access, both nationally and statewide, the importance of this election year can’t be overstated. To help voters, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive health and freedom. Along with those endorsements, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates,” spotlighting each Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona-endorsed candidate. To vote in the primaries, you must register to vote by July 30 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2012!

Katie Hobbs is currently a representative for Legislative District 15 in Phoenix, and a candidate for state senator in Arizona’s new LD 24. Hobbs established herself as a leader during her first term in the state legislature. She has been very vocal about women’s health care issues and sex education. She is a lifelong resident of Phoenix, and we’re very proud to endorse her. What follows is an exclusive interview conducted in July 2012.


“Making women’s reproductive health care accessible, affordable, and safe should be a top priority.”


Tell us a little about your background.

I’m a social worker — I have a master’s degree in social work. I’ve spent 20 years working with homelessness, mental health, and domestic violence. I’m also a native Arizonan, wife, and mother, and I’m raising my family here in central Phoenix. I don’t want Arizona to be the state that is constantly ridiculed in the national media. I am proud to be an Arizonan, and I want my children to be proud that they grew up here.

What women’s health care issues do you think should be addressed in the legislature?

We have done some good things for women’s health care. This past year, we passed a bill that will help more women diagnosed with breast cancer have access to treatment. Unfortunately, you can’t separate reproductive health care from women’s health and that’s just what the legislature has tried to do. They have passed legislation (which I fought against!) that severely compromises women’s health by restricting access to family planning, cancer screenings, preventive care, and safe and legal abortion. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Bruce Wheeler for State Representative, LD 10

The Arizona primary election will be held on August 28, 2012. With so many recent legislative challenges to reproductive health care access, both nationally and statewide, the importance of this election year can’t be overstated. To help voters, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive health and freedom. Along with those endorsements, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates,” spotlighting each Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona-endorsed candidate. To vote in the primaries, you must register to vote by July 30 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2012!

This edition of “Meet Our Candidates” focuses on Bruce Wheeler, who is seeking to represent Tucson’s Legislative District 10 in the Arizona House of Representatives for a second term. Wheeler graduated from the American High School of Quito in Ecuador, received his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Arizona in International Relations in 1972, and later received his M.B.A. from the University of Phoenix. Additionally, he is the proud parent of two sons who graduated from MIT and Stanford and are now pursuing exciting and productive careers of their own.


“No one should interfere with a person’s right to make his or her own medical and health care choices.”


In various capacities, Wheeler has been serving Tucson-area residents for decades. In 1987, he was elected to the Tucson city council, where he served two terms. After that, he worked for the Tucson Airport Authority, from which he retired in 2006 after serving as the director of energy management.

On July 9, 2012, Wheeler shared his views on health care education, access, and empowerment in this exclusive interview.

What women’s health care issues do you think should be addressed in the legislature?

All women’s health care issues should be addressed by the legislature. Reproductive health care is the most controversial and I stand strongly for a woman’s right to make her own choices regarding all aspects of health care, including reproductive health care without interference from anyone or any institution or any law that interferes with that right. The right to choose is her own right. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Martín Quezada for State Representative, LD 29

The Arizona primary election will be held on August 28, 2012. With so many recent legislative challenges to reproductive health care access, both nationally and statewide, the importance of this election year can’t be overstated. To help voters, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive health and freedom. Along with those endorsements, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates,” spotlighting each Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona-endorsed candidate. To vote in the primaries, you must register to vote by July 30 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2012!

Today we will focus on Martín Quezada, a lifelong Arizonan who earlier this year was appointed to complete the remainder of Rep. Richard Miranda‘s term in the Arizona State House of Representatives. On his Facebook page, Quezada characterized his two months in the House as “frustrating, saddening, infuriating, yet exciting, energizing, and exhausting” — and “the best two months of my life.” During this time, Quezada stood against the flurry of anti-family-planning bills that helped characterize the 2011-2012 legislative session.


“Patients should be allowed to make decisions about their health care with the advice of their doctor, not the legislature.”


Prior to his tenure in the House, Quezada built an impressive résumé working for the Democrat Caucus and the state legislature. After gaining this early political experience, he attended the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, where he was active in student government. After receiving his law degree in 2008, he completed a judicial clerkship, and has been practicing law and honing his skills as a community activist. In 2010, he was elected to the Pendergast Elementary School District Governing Board. What follows is an exclusive interview conducted on July 8, 2012.

Tell us a little about your background.

I was was born in LD 29, raised here, educated here, and have worked here. It is truly my home and my community. I worked for five years as legislative staff before leaving to attend law school. After graduating from law school I clerked on the Arizona Court of Appeals before starting my own law practice, where I still practice in criminal defense, domestic relations, and election law. I ran unsuccessfully for the House (in LD 13) in 2010. That same year I was elected to the Pendergast Elementary School District Governing Board. I was appointed to the Arizona House of Representatives in March 2012 in LD 13 to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Rep. Richard Miranda. I have served there since. I am truly proud of my public service and hope to get elected in 2012 to serve a full term. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Lela Alston for State Representative, LD 24

The Arizona primary election will be held on August 28, 2012. With so many recent legislative challenges to reproductive health care access, both nationally and statewide, the importance of this election year can’t be overstated. To help voters, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive health and freedom. Along with those endorsements, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates,” spotlighting each Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona-endorsed candidate. To vote in the primaries, you must register to vote by July 30 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2012!

This installment of “Meet Our Candidates” includes a July 6, 2012 interview with Lela Alston, a candidate for the Arizona House of Representatives in Legislative District 24, which encompasses portions of both Phoenix and Scottsdale.


“We need to…assure that there is health care available and that it is accessible for people of all incomes.”


Alston has previous legislative experience, serving in the Arizona State Senate between 1977 and 1994. A graduate of the University of Arizona, she describes herself has having been “a school teacher since forever,” which included years in both Tucson-area middle schools and in the Phoenix Union High School District. Alston remained a teacher as she served her terms in the State Senate, teaching during the first semester and taking a leave to serve in the legislative term each January. After retiring from teaching, some of her teacher friends asked Alston if she would run for the district’s school board. “It was at that point in time,” Alston said, “that I realized with more clarity how education and basic human services were being destroyed or hampered or cut back by the legislature.” Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Dustin Cox for State Representative, LD 9

The Arizona primary election will be held on August 28, 2012. With so many recent legislative challenges to reproductive health care access, both nationally and statewide, the importance of this election year can’t be overstated. To help voters, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive health and freedom. Along with those endorsements, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates,” spotlighting each Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona-endorsed candidate. To vote in the primaries, you must register to vote by July 30 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2012!

Dustin Cox is one of three candidates running in the primary for the new Legislative District 9. This district covers midtown Tucson, the foothills area from I-10 to Sabino Canyon, and as far north as southern parts of Oro Valley in the Oracle Road corridor. With all the redistricting that’s taken place this year, you might not even know what legislative district you’re in — but you can click here to find out!


“No government or legislature should be allowed to dictate health care decisions that should be made by individuals in consultation with their doctors.”


Cox has received much recognition and several awards for his service to the community. He was a Flinn-Brown Fellow in the inaugural class of the Arizona Center for Civic Leadership. In 2008 he was one of the youngest ever recipients of the Hon Kachina Volunteer Award for a lifetime of volunteer service and improving the health of the Arizona community. He has been a nominee for the Champion for Children and Families Award, and named one of Tucson’s “Top 40 Under 40” community and business leaders. What follows is an exclusive interview conducted with Cox in July 2012.

Tell us a little about your background.

Five generations of my family have called Arizona home. I think that has fostered in me a great love for my community here. It is a big part of what drives my desire to improve this state and fight the extreme measures coming out of our state legislature. It pains me to think that Arizona could be worse off for the next five generations of my family who will call this place home, and that is why I feel I must stand up and say, “Enough.” Continue reading