Meet Our Candidates: Steve Weichert for State Senator, LD 17

The Arizona general election will be held on November 8, 2016. Reproductive health care access has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive justice. To acquaint you with our endorsed candidates, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates.” In order to vote in the election, you must register to vote by October 10 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2016!

steve-weichertThe 17th legislative district hangs just southeast of Phoenix, covering the greater part of Chandler, western Gilbert, and Sun Lakes. It is currently represented in the Arizona Senate by Steven Yarbrough, who has a history of opposing reproductive rights and LGBTQ equality. LD 17 needs better representation, and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona endorses Steve Weichert, who will fight for improved education and health-care access — including comprehensive sex education and access to family planning services.


“Women can count on me to protect their health care and reproductive rights.”


In 2003, Mr. Weichert moved to Chandler, where his family has put down permanent roots. He and his wife are raising two school-age daughters, so he knows first-hand just how crucial quality education is. He points to the importance of attracting and retaining talented teachers and attaining smaller classroom sizes. As such, a key component of his platform is improving education funding in Arizona, and, as he tells us in today’s interview, he believes comprehensive sex education is an integral aspect of a student’s overall education.

Just as Arizona needs to be able to hold onto good K-12 teachers, Mr. Weichert knows how vital it is to retain a vibrant population of physicians and other health-care providers. As a health-care administrator, he has a front-row seat to Arizona’s shortage of health-care providers. While the University of Arizona College of Medicine provides affordable education, Mr. Weichert says Arizona loses its investment when its graduates are lured out of state by better salaries and benefits. And, as an employee of Gila River Health Care, serving the Gila River Indian Community, Mr. Weichert sees the importance of expanding health care access to historically under-served populations.

According to the Center for Arizona Policy’s 2016 candidate questionnaire, LD 17’s current senator, Steven Yarbrough, is in favor of strict prohibitions on Arizonans’ access to abortion; he is also opposed to recognizing individuals’ gender identity and including the LGBTQ community in nondiscrimination laws. In 2014, Sen. Yarbrough helped propel Arizona to national headlines when he sponsored SB 1062, which would have given businesses the right to refuse service to LGBTQ customers. He sponsored a similar bill the year before — but both that bill and SB 1062 were vetoed by then-governor Jan Brewer.

We need lawmakers who prioritize issues that have a direct impact on Arizonans’ quality of life — and Steve Weichert will focus on quality education and health-care access, without wasting time introducing fear-based bills like SB 1062 that solve no problems. Mr. Weichert generously took the time to answer our questions on September 18, 2016. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Scott Prior for State Senator, LD 16

The Arizona primary election takes place TODAY! Find your polling location here. Reproductive health care access has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive justice. To acquaint you with our endorsed candidates, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates.” In order to vote in today’s primary election, you need to have been registered to vote by August 1. Missed the deadline? You can still register online for November’s general election. Make your voice heard in 2016!

Scott Prior is resilient and tenacious in his commitment to underrepresented citizens. He is running for the state Senate in Arizona’s Legislative District 16 for the third time. He previously ran in 2012 and 2014, at which time he shared his thoughts with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona (PPAA). PPAA has endorsed Mr. Prior each time because as a Democrat who is independent-minded, he places the interest of people over the interest of profit. He is committed to individual freedom and believes that human dignity should come before corporate, government, or religious interests. Mr. Prior’s wife is running in the same district for the state House of Representatives. Scott and Cara have been married 20 years and live in Apache Junction. They are both committed to reproductive justice.


“Sex education should be age-appropriate and provided in schools.”


Legislative District 16 includes Apache Junction, East Mesa, Gold Canyon, and northern San Tan Valley. Mr. Prior will be running against Republican David Farnsworth. Sen. Farnsworth believes that abortions should always be illegal and does not believe that the Arizona government should fund clinics and medical facilities that provide abortion services. Sen. Farnsworth also does not support sex education in schools, increasing funding for programs to prevent teen pregnancy, the inclusion of sexual orientation in Arizona’s anti-discrimination laws, or recognizing same-sex marriages.

On July 8, 2016, Mr. Prior generously took time to share his thoughts with PPAA again via Skype, sharing why he is more determined than ever to win this election.

Since PPAA last spoke with you, 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?

The serious mistakes made over the last two years by the state Legislature have made me even more resolved to make a difference in the state of Arizona. Funding for schools has been slashed while corporate tax breaks and funding for private prisons have been increased. I do not want to see what has happened in Kansas happen in Arizona. In Kansas, there has not been enough money to keep the schools open the entire year.

As a secular humanist, I do not believe or follow any religion. It is unacceptable for the Phoenix City Council and the Arizona Legislature to deny all but Judeo-Christian faiths from taking part in opening invocations. It is important that we all understand the importance of the separation of church and state. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Sean Bowie for State Senator, LD 18

The Arizona primary election will be held on August 30, 2016. Reproductive health care access has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive justice. To acquaint you with our endorsed candidates, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates.” In order to vote in the primary election, you need to have been registered to vote by August 1. Missed the deadline? You can still register online for November’s general election. Make your voice heard in 2016!

Sean BowieLegislative District 18 sits just south of Phoenix, stretching west from Chandler to Ahwatukee. The 18th district is currently represented in the Senate by Jeff Dial, whose voting record belies a lack of support for contraception access — his vote for HB 2599 helped lay the groundwork to deny state Medicaid recipients the right to receive preventive health care and birth control from Planned Parenthood — as well as his opposition to abortion — as illustrated by his vote in favor of SB 1324, which put severe restrictions around the use of medication abortion, which don’t even comply with FDA regulations. In 2014, he voted in favor of SB 1062, which would have given businesses the right to discriminate against LGBTQ folks — or anyone else against whom they could claim a religious justification for discrimination.


“The Legislature should not be in the business of meddling with a woman’s relationship with her doctor.”


Sean Bowie seeks to oust current Sen. Jeff Dial from the Arizona Senate, and due to his outspoken support for reproductive justice and LGBTQ rights, Mr. Bowie has earned our endorsement. His website highlights the importance of recognizing LGBTQ rights in the state of Arizona, and he voices support for an employment non-discrimination act that would protect people from employment or housing discrimination, regardless of their sexual orientation. He also supports reproductive rights and Arizonans’ access to the full range of reproductive health services, as he explained to us in his interview.

After moving to Chandler during his childhood, Mr. Bowie graduated from Mountain Pointe High School and then Arizona State University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree with a double major in political science and history. Afterward, a stint in Pittsburgh saw him earn a master’s degree in public policy and management from Carnegie Mellon University. Prior to launching his Senate campaign, Mr. Bowie has put his energy behind education reform, health care access, and protecting Social Security. As an employee of Arizona State University, he works to expand needs-based financial aid, expanding access to higher education for all Arizonans.

Mr. Bowie generously took the time to answer our questions on July 19, 2016.

What kind of beneficial legislation would you like to see introduced, and why do you think it’s important to fight for it?

My first priority will be to improve our state’s education system. I will fight to restore education funding at both the K-12 and university levels above all else if elected. Another important priority is to pass a statewide comprehensive non-discrimination act to protect our LGBTQ community. Arizona is one of only 27 states that does not have an act in place, and it is past time that Arizona enacts a law that says we are open for business to all. We also must continue this inclusiveness into our schools by striking our shameful “no-promo-homo” law from the books. I will join my Democratic colleagues this year who fought on the Senate floor to get this done. Finally, one of the great advantages to having a tie or majority in the state Senate would be to stop the unconstitutional attacks on Planned Parenthood and focus on more important priorities, like the ones I outlined above. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: David Bradley for State Senator, LD 10

The Arizona primary election will be held on August 30, 2016. Reproductive health care access has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive justice. To acquaint you with our endorsed candidates, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates.” In order to vote in the primary election, you need to have been registered to vote by August 1. Missed the deadline? You can still register online for November’s general election. Make your voice heard in 2016!

From 2003 to 2011, Dave Bradley represented what was then Tucson’s Legislative District 28 in the Arizona House of Representatives. Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona had the opportunity to speak with him during his campaigns for Arizona State Senate in both 2012 and 2014. During this time, Sen. Bradley has been a tireless advocate for health care and education access and equity.

He was kind enough to take the time for this interview with us on July 12, 2016.


“The Legislature is the last place that medical practices should be dictated.”


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?

I like to say that my dreams still outnumber my memories, and as such still believe that Arizona can rise from its historical morass of being so backward in its approach to commonsense issues of equality and women’s rights. The Legislature is always the arena where incremental progress is celebrated disproportionately. When we do commonsense things like pass Medicaid expansion or KidsCare, we are reinvigorated. There is a long way to go, but I choose to believe that time will be on our side. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Scott Prior for State Senator, LD 16

The Arizona general election will be held on November 4, 2014, and early voting starts today! Reproductive health care access has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive justice. To acquaint you with our endorsed candidates, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates.” Make your voice heard in 2014!

Covering parts of Pinal and Maricopa counties, including Gold Canyon, Apache Junction, and parts of Mesa, Legislative District 16 is home to more than 220,000 Arizona residents. Scott Prior made the decision to run for Senate in LD 16 so that his fellow constituents could be represented by someone who advocates for workers, makes education a priority, and supports equality for Arizonans regardless of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. Both he and his spouse Cara are seeking to represent LD 16 to bring more attention to those issues in the legislature, with Cara running for one of the open seats in the House of Representatives. Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed both Scott and Cara Prior because of their commitment to reproductive justice.

Mr. Prior returns to the campaign trail after running in 2012. At that time, he shared his thoughts with this blog on the many issues that needed to be addressed in the legislature, including Arizona’s high teen birth rate, inadequate sex education, and health care policy that interferes with private decisions between doctors and patients.

On October 4, Mr. Prior generously took the time to share his thoughts with us again, highlighting many of those same issues but explaining why he is hopeful for a better outcome in this year’s election.


“Let’s leave the practice of medicine to the doctors … and keep legislation out of it.”


It’s great to talk to you again! How has your commitment to serving Arizona grown over the past two years? On the policy level, what has happened during that time to give you hope, and what has happened to strengthen your convictions?

Over the past two years, it has become even more imperative to get common sense people in the state legislature. We have seen a continuing shift over the past several years of elected officials working for the benefit of corporations and special interests, and away from helping the people of our great state. I firmly believe that until we can elect people who will concentrate on the important issues of the economy, creating jobs, and fixing our failing education, we will continue to be the laughingstock of the late-night comedy circuit.

This election cycle will be different, I believe, as my opponent doesn’t have the [same] name recognition and popularity as my opponent in 2012. This gives me hope that I might be able to make a difference, and have a good chance that this election will be much closer of a contest. My convictions are strengthened by the fact that in the 2014 primary, I gathered more votes than I did in the 2012 primary. This means that people are more interested in getting their voices heard, even in a midterm election.

Earlier this year, the state legislature passed HB 2284, which permits the health department to inspect abortion clinics without a warrant. What do you think about this new law?

I personally believe that HB 2284 is just another way for those who don’t believe women can make their own health care choices to try to intimidate and prevent women from exercising their constitutional rights. If those same people who supported this bill spent as much time working on taking care of children after they are born as they do before they are born, then my district would not have a 16 percent child poverty rate, 11 percent of the children in my district would not be without health insurance, and education statewide would not be ranked so low compared to other states. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Barbara McGuire for State Senate, LD 8

The Arizona general election will be held on November 4, 2014. Reproductive health care access has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive justice. To acquaint you with our endorsed candidates, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates.” Make your voice heard in 2014!

Portrait photograph of Barbara McGuire.Legislative District 8 is another of Arizona’s geographically expansive districts, reaching west to Maricopa, northeast to Globe, and south to Oracle and San Manuel. State Sen. Barbara McGuire has deep roots in this district, which gives her a practical and nuanced understanding of what her constituents want and need. As she seeks another term in the Arizona State Senate, she hopes to continue to advocate for the needs of rural Arizonans as well as a government that is “efficient, accountable, and responsive.”

Sen. McGuire took the time for an interview on September 25, 2014.


“Women’s health care needs are as individual as they are, and no one knows their issues and needs better than they do.”


How has your commitment to serving Arizona grown over the past two years? On the policy level, what has happened during that time to give you hope, and what has happened to strengthen your convictions?

I am honored to have served two terms in the House and a term as a senator. I have always had the desire to make people’s lives better. My 25-plus years as a Salvation Army Unit director, along with my time served as a legislator, have given me the venue to do just that. On the policy side, I have witnessed and participated in halting harmful legislation, and promoting and sponsoring beneficial legislation. I am said to be the most bipartisan legislator at the state Capitol. To be effective, you have to find common ground and move forward from there. It is not a one-size-fits-all legislature by any means. I treasure the relationships I have built over the years, and it gives me hope that, in being well received on both sides of the aisle, we will be able to work together to solve the important issues Arizona will face in the coming years.

Last legislative session, you voted against HB 2284, which now permits the health department to inspect abortion clinics without a warrant. How do you explain to constituents the unique nature of abortion care and the need for heightened privacy and safety for patients?

If there is no guarantee of privacy then women will be hesitant to use these facilities and perhaps choose a path that may result in leaving them unable to have children in the future or even end in their death. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Kelli Butler for State Senator, LD 28

The Arizona general election will be held on November 4, 2014. Reproductive health care access has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive justice. To acquaint you with our endorsed candidates, we are running a series called “Meet Our Candidates.” In order to vote in the general election, you must register to vote by October 6 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2014!

Kelli Butler 2014Kelli Butler is an Arizona native with professional experience in the health care field and a background in community involvement in education. When her district’s current state senator, Adam Driggs, voted in favor of this year’s discriminatory SB 1062, she made the decision to run for his seat in the Senate so that her fellow LD 28 constituents could be represented by someone who would advocate for the rights and dignity of all Arizonans.

The three main components of her platform are investing in public education, creating quality jobs, and protecting children and families. To support these goals, Ms. Butler is in favor of including comprehensive sex education in schools to empower students with the information they need to avoid sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancies — the latter of which will help reduce dropout rates among teenage girls. Additionally, increasing access to family planning services can help women make decisions that are best for themselves and their families.

The 28th legislative district is currently represented in the state Senate by Adam Driggs, whose record on reproductive health and rights is dismal. He has consistently voted against Planned Parenthood’s mission, supporting bills that would have reduced access to birth control and preventive services at Planned Parenthood Arizona. He has also voted for HB 2036, the infamous bill that restricts abortion to 20 weeks and defines pregnancy as starting two weeks before conception. Additionally, Driggs has signed the Center for Arizona Policy’s statement denouncing Roe v. Wade.

Kelli Butler is running to represent Legislative District 28, which includes Paradise Valley and parts of Phoenix. She took the time for an interview with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona on September 23, 2014.


“We must empower people with knowledge and choices so they are able to make the most responsible decisions for themselves.”


Tell us a little about your background.

I’m a proud Arizona native, having grown up within the boundaries of District 28. I attended University of Arizona and majored in elementary education. I’ve been married for 25 years to my husband, Ben Butler, who is a general dentist in Glendale, Arizona. I help manage his dental practice and run our small business. I am familiar with the challenges of small business ownership and with the regulatory and insurance environments of the health care industry. I am a longtime advocate for public schools, having raised my two boys in Phoenix’s Madison School District. I was very involved in their schools and on district-level committees.

Earlier this year, the state legislature passed HB 2284, which permits the health department to inspect abortion clinics without a warrant. What do you think about this new law?

HB 2284 opens the door to harassment of women and their health care providers. This measure is simply another attempt by far-right groups like the Center for Arizona Policy to restrict women’s access to safe, responsible choices and health services. Abortion clinics are already highly regulated. HB 2284 was motivated by political ideology; it is part of a concerted effort to throw more roadblocks in the way of women seeking access to reproductive medical services. Continue reading