Meet Our Candidates: Jo Holt for State Senator, LD 11

The Arizona general election will be held on November 6, 2012, with early voting starting on October 11. After the many recent legislative challenges to reproductive health care access, both nationally and statewide, the importance of voting in November 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 spotlighting our endorsed candidates in a series called “Meet Our Candidates.” To vote in the general election, you must register to vote by October 9 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2012!

[J]o Holt is running for an Arizona Senate seat in the new Legislative District 11, which covers the northwestern parts of Pima County and western parts of Pinal County. This area includes Oro Valley, Marana, Avra Valley, Arizona City, Ak-Chin, Maricopa, SaddleBrooke, and Catalina, as well as many other cities and towns. On her website, Holt states, “Arizona is worth fighting for, and I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and work for the best interest of all the people of Arizona.” It’s also very clear that she believes the women of Arizona are worth fighting for as well, and that Holt will be willing to roll up her sleeves to protect women’s rights to health care.

What follows is an exclusive interview conducted with Holt on September 26, 2012.

“The right of women to determine their reproductive choices … is being undermined here in Arizona with the most restrictive laws in the nation.”

Tell us a little about your background.

I am a retired research scientist, and this is my first time to run for public office. Part of my career was spent at the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Arizona in the 1980s. My son James was born at Tucson Medical Center. My career took me to the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, where I spent about 15 years. I retired early to take care of my husband, who passed away last year after a long battle with early-onset Alzheimer’s. So, my background is split between being a mom, a research scientist, and a caregiver.

From 2010 through 2012, your opponent Al Melvin has supported 13 bills (and sponsored many of them) that sought to regulate and stigmatize abortion care out of existence, defund Planned Parenthood, and harass patients and staff of Planned Parenthood and other women’s health care providers. For example, in the previous legislative session, there were many bad bills that negatively affected access to birth control (HB2625), funding for family planning (HB2800), abortion (HB2036), and unbiased information in schools about unintended pregnancies (SB1009). What kind of beneficial legislation would you like to see introduced, and why do you think it’s important to fight for it?

According to the laws of this country, a woman can legally choose to end her pregnancy. A state bill that reaffirms this right, and removes government restrictions on a woman’s ability to control her own reproductive cycle, should be introduced.  Continue reading

Cheryl Cage: The Pro-Choice Choice in LD 26

If you live in Arizona’s Legislative District 26, you have a very important vote to cast for State Senator this November. Candidate Cheryl Cage is running against the incumbent Al Melvin. With your vote for Cage you can have a hand in helping ensure the women of Arizona, in conjunction with their families and doctors, will retain the right to make their own health care decisions, rather than having our state legislature make decisions for them.

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed Cheryl Cage because of her respect for women and her stand on the issues. As a volunteer with Planned Parenthood and a resident in LD 26, I’m very interested in knowing a candidate’s positions on women’s health and reproductive issues, so I asked Cheryl Cage questions about her positions.

Education is at the top of Cheryl Cage’s list of important issues, so I asked if this includes age-appropriate, medically-accurate sex education for the children of this state. Cage understands that “this information is vital for the physical and emotional health of a child.” Arizona has the second highest teen pregnancy rate in the country, yet no legislation supporting “real sex ed” has made it out of committee. With Cheryl Cage in our state senate, I believe comprehensive sex-ed classes stand a chance of being put in place and our state’s teens could be 50% less likely to become pregnant. Continue reading