Meet Our Candidates: Celeste Plumlee for State Representative, LD 26

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 must register to vote by August 1 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2016!

Celeste Plumlee scaledCeleste Plumlee is an exciting new face in the Arizona House of Representatives, having been appointed to fill Andrew Sherwood’s seat after he ascended to the state Senate to take Ed Ableser’s place. From her position in the House, Rep. Plumlee represents Legislative District 26, which includes Mesa, Phoenix, and the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, in addition to her home town of Tempe.


“There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to health care, and there is no way a statewide health policy can be applicable to all people equally.”


Despite only serving one session in the House so far, she has proven herself to be a resolute advocate for reproductive health and justice. Her voting record reveals that she refused to support bad bills like HB 2599, which lays the groundwork for Arizona to deny Medicaid recipients from choosing Planned Parenthood for their preventive health services, and SB 1324, which put severe restrictions around the use of medication abortion.

In addition to her support for access to contraception and abortion, equality is an important plank in her platform. The concept of “equality” includes protecting the rights of members of marginalized communities, from LGBTQ folks to people of color — not to mention the importance of equal pay for equal work, and a call to close the pay gap between male and female workers. For these reasons and more, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona enthusiastically endorse Rep. Plumlee for reelection to the Arizona House of Representatives.

Rep. Plumlee generously took the time to answer our questions on July 19, 2016.

Tell us a little about your background.

I first got interested in public policy in graduate school, when I realized I had a unique perspective as a single mother and survivor of domestic violence who has utilized public assistance to raise my children through tough times. I have master of social work and master of public administration degrees from Arizona State University, and have a great deal to contribute to the Legislature through my experience and education. I am the mom of two teenagers and have dedicated my volunteer time to helping educate people about domestic and sexual violence and encouraging other survivors to speak out. I am also a trained facilitator for a comprehensive sexuality education program and have advocated for similar programs being used in public schools for years. I am passionate about social justice and putting an end to gender-based violence, and actively work to do whatever I can towards those goals. Continue reading

The Condom Broke. Now What?

oopsProtecting yourself with barriers like condoms is an important part of keeping yourself healthy when you and your partner don’t know one another’s STD status. Condoms are also great for pregnancy prevention. You can improve their effectiveness by learning how to put them on correctly, using a generous amount of lubricant, and checking their expiration dates.

But, sometimes, despite your best intentions, condoms break.

When that happens, you might wonder about your vulnerability to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). And, if pregnancy is a possibility, you might also be concerned about sperm meeting egg. Luckily, there are still options. One, getting tested for STDs can help you receive treatment, if needed, in a timely manner. Two, if you act quickly, you can still take steps to minimize the risk of certain STDs or help avert an unwanted pregnancy.

Don’t let a broken condom immobilize you with fear! Take matters into your own hands, and learn what to do if a condom breaks.

How long does it take after a potential exposure until an STD test is likely to be accurate?

The answer to this question is: It varies. Each STD has a different “window period,” that is, the time it takes for an infection to be detectable. Some STDs can be tested for within days (if symptoms are present), while other STDs can take months to show up on a test. Also, while you might be inclined to wait and see if symptoms show up, remember that most STDs don’t have symptoms at all! When infections don’t have symptoms, they are said to be “asymptomatic.”

Check out this handy chart to see how long it takes for symptoms to appear, how common asymptomatic infections are, and how soon you should be tested.  Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Pat Fleming for State Senator, LD 14

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!

Pat Fleming has lived in Arizona for four decades, with roots going back to Missouri, where she was born near her grandparents’ farm. Her military ties brought her to Sierra Vista, where she continues to live — and seeks to serve.


“A licensed pharmacist is licensed to dispense prescriptions, not determine morality.”


Fleming supports access to preventive health care and education. “Protecting women’s access to contraception is critical,” she has stated. Elaborating upon her positions in an exclusive interview with us, she indicated support for comprehensive sex education because of its role in the “prevention of unwanted and unplanned pregnancies.” As a member of the state Senate, Fleming will stand for commonsense values such as comprehensive sex education, health care access, and family planning. She will also represent the needs of her rural constituents, whose access to health care is limited.

Fleming is seeking office in the newly drawn Legislative District 14, which stretches from east Pima County into rural areas of the state, including Cochise and Greenlee counties, as well as most of Graham County. She generously took time for an interview with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona on October 1, 2012.

Tell us a little about your background.

I have been proud to call southeastern Arizona home for 43 years. After retiring from Ft. Huachuca in 2005, I ran my first campaign for the Arizona House of Representatives from LD 25, losing by only 764 votes. In 2008, I ran again and handily won a seat in the Arizona House of Representatives. I was honored to have served one term representing the good people of the former Legislative District 25, however, I lost my bid for re-election in 2010.

I live south of Sierra Vista with my husband Bob Fleming. We have been married almost 11 years, and have a combined family that includes five children and 12 grandchildren. I have remained a participating and involved civilian representative and continue community activism as I run for the Arizona Senate from the new LD 14.

In the previous legislative session, there were a lot of bad bills that negatively affected access to birth control (HB2625), funding for family planning (HB2800), abortion (HB2036), and unbiased information about unintended pregnancies in public schools (SB1009). What kind of beneficial legislation would you like to see introduced, and why do you think it’s important to fight for it?

If elected, I will work to reverse these radical, ideologically based laws. I will work to include easier access to contraceptive medications and devices as part of a woman’s health care options. Government bureaucrats should never be in charge of personal health care choices. However, without major changes in the demographics or partisan elected officials, in both the Arizona Senate and Arizona House, none of this is going to happen. Continue reading

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!

Jo 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

Meet Our Candidates: Ed Ableser for State Senator, LD 26

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!

Ed Ableser is running for an Arizona State Senate seat in the new Legislative District 26, which covers Tempe, Mesa, Phoenix, and the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. He has served as a state senator and is the current state representative from Legislative District 17. Ableser received his bachelor’s degree in political science and Chinese, as well as his master’s degree in counseling, from Arizona State University. He is now working to complete his Ph.D. in justice and social inquiry and is a mental-health counselor in the public school system. He also owns a business and works as a counselor for Ableser Family Counseling.


“This election is an important one for women’s access to reproductive health care. The fair and equal treatment of women is at stake.”


Because Ableser has spent his career serving low-income families and helping them deal with the difficult issues they face on a day-to-day basis, he believes his experience has given him “the opportunity to see what their problems are and the insight into how my constituents can be helped at the state capitol.”

In the previous legislative session, there were many bad bills that negatively affected access to birth control, funding for family planning, abortion, and unbiased information about unintended pregnancies in public schools. When asked what legislation he would like to see introduced, he said he would like to make sure the Affordable Healthcare Act gets enacted. Ableser noted that “there are hundreds of people waiting to have the basic safety net of insurance. There are too many people on the edge of bankruptcy because of the cost of medical care.”

Next, he would like to continue work on legislation to provide resources for parents who need to come to schools for parent/teacher conferences. “Some employers have fired employees for taking time off to go to their children’s school,” he said, and he would like these employees to have protection. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Patricia Flickner for State Representative, LD 15

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!

On everything you see put out by Patricia Flickner, there is the tagline that states, “Talk to me, I’ll listen.” It is evident in every way that it is not just a line for her; it is how she serves. The interview she afforded us is below, and I think it clearly shows this aspect of not only who she is as a candidate; also who she is as a person and what it means to her to act in the role of representative.


“The biggest problem with this latest spate of legislation is that it assumes that doctors coerce women and women cannot be trusted.”


She took the time more than once to correspond and speak with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona, and each time it felt as though we were carrying on a conversation with someone worthy of being called “friend.” There is no sense that she is seeking this position for anything other than to help create necessary change, even if it costs her campaign dollars and potential re-election. This woman is very genuine, and very much lives by the ideals of what it means to serve. It is tremendously exciting and refreshing!

Flickner is the sole pro-women’s health candidate running for the House in Legislative District 15 in north Phoenix, running against Republican opponents John Allen and Heather Carter. Because of the views of the other candidates in the LD 15 House election, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona is recommending a “single-shot vote” for Patricia Flickner. This interview took place on September 13, 2012, and was conducted by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona volunteer Liza Love.

Tell us a little about your background.

I am an Army veteran, business leader, wife, mother of four grown children, and grandmother of 11 (the newest was just born on September 11). I have lived in Phoenix in the same house for the past 15 years. I love technology, kids, animals — especially horses — and motorcycles, and not necessarily in that order. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Matthew Cerra for State Representative, LD 16

Photograph of Matthew Cerra.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!

Born in Casa Grande, Matthew Cerra is an Arizona native. Since then, he’s spent many years working in both public and private education in Arizona as well as in the state’s penal system. Cerra is currently seeking to represent Legislative District 16, which includes the city of Apache Junction and the area of Gold Canyon, in the Arizona House of Representatives. He took the time for an interview with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona on September 3, 2012.


“It was bad enough for women who had to let husbands decide what choices were to be made … Can you imagine a government doing that as well?”


Tell us a little about your background.

I currently work as a company trainer — I provide information and training on many of the systems developed by the company I work for to its employees. Prior to this I worked in public and private education and I have worked in the private prison system as an addictions treatment specialist. My career has thus far focused on helping people to improve, helping them to achieve more with their lives.

As a child I lived through every abusive situation that a person can experience, many of these issues stemming from lack of proper family care and management. I have been a child “of the system,” I understand the need for help that many of our children have in families facing difficulties. By the time I was 12, I had testified against a stepfather in a felony abuse trial and was in foster care with my three sisters. Prior to that, I witnessed violence in the home and watched my mother be involved with domestic violence. So when I hear about politicians thinking of expedient ways to get rid of systems that kept me alive — saying they are a waste of resources — I take personal offense to that. I agree that parts of the system need changing. I also recognize that many save lives, and mine was one of them. Continue reading