Meet Our Candidates: Michael Muscato for State Senator, LD 22

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 have been registered to vote by October 10. Make your voice heard in 2016!

michaelmuscatoMichael Muscato was born and bred in Arizona, leaving the state briefly to play baseball, then moving to California, where he taught himself to be a recording engineer — a career that sent him around the globe supporting touring musicians and other entertainers. The year 2013 saw his homecoming to Peoria, where he raises his family in the community in which he grew up and now seeks to represent in the Arizona Senate.

Legislative District 22 includes Sun City West, Mountain Vista, Surprise, Peoria, and Lake Pleasant, and is currently represented in the state Senate by Judy Burges, who opposes comprehensive sex education, believes in severe restrictions on abortion, and would not include LGBTQ folks in nondiscrimination laws. Given that she doesn’t stand for the rights and health of her constituents — in the ability of children to learn about sexual health and healthy relationships, in the ability of women to control their bodies and fates, or in people’s right not to be discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity — it’s time to replace Sen. Burges with someone who will stand for all of LD 22’s electorate.


“I actually care about people and fight for their interests and needs over those of corporations and special interests.”


In fact, it was his deep disappointment with Sen. Burges’ performance as a senator that compelled Mr. Muscato to run for the Arizona Senate. As he wrote in Your West Valley, “Nothing about her voting record on issues is in support of children, families, or small businesses. She has repeatedly voted against funding public education, continuously voted against KidsCare, and voted to cut TANFF for those most in need of help.”

Mr. Muscato generously took the time to answer our questions on October 10, 2016.

Tell us a little about your background.

I am a 32-year-old former minor league baseball player drafted by the New York Yankees. After finishing baseball I became a self-taught engineer and quickly became a director, crew chief, and systems engineer for some of the most famous entertainers in the world for their national and international tours and concerts. I am also a small business owner in LD 22, having started a CrossFit gym three years ago based on a passion of mine, which is fitness. I am the father of two little boys (Cooper, 21 months, and Canton, 2 months). I am happily married to my amazing wife, Alicia, and I could not be more proud to be in a position to represent my hometown this election. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Steve Farley for State Senator, LD 9

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!

farleypicSen. Steve Farley, who faces no opposition in either the primary or the November election, told us that he’s been spending much of his time “working to try to get a pro-choice majority elected in the Legislature,” no surprise for the pro-choice stalwart and father of two daughters whom Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed multiple times.

The 53-year-old artist and businessman has represented Legislative District 9 since 2012. Initially elected to the Arizona Legislature as State Representative from District 28 in 2006, Farley went on to become House Assistant Minority Leader. In the Senate, Farley serves as Assistant Minority Leader, and is the ranking Democrat on the Finance Committee. He also serves on the Appropriations, Financial Institutions, and Ethics Committees.


“All students are our future, no matter who they are or love.”


Recognizing Farley’s rising profile in the Legislature, the Arizona Republic named him one of 16 Arizonans to Watch in 2016. In a recent conversation, he noted with some surprise that readers and reporters of the Arizona Capitol Times voted him Best Arizona Democratic Elected Official in 2016.

“I didn’t expect it,” he told us, clearly pleased.

Sen. Farley has run a public art and graphic design business since 1991. He created the photographic tile murals around Tucson’s Broadway Underpass after he invented a process for converting photographs to glazed ceramic tile.

Sen. Farley was kind enough to take the time for a telephone interview on July 11, 2016.

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

The most important legislation that needs to be introduced would get rid of the bad legislation that’s been passed for eight years. They’ve been full speed ahead to attack women’s health. We need to restore the relationship between a doctor and that doctor’s patient. Don’t try to write scripts for them to read, or institute an abusive waiting period and make it as hard as possible for women in rural areas to access health care. Ensure that women have access to the full range of legal health services. 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: Eric Shelley for State Senate, LD 28

The Arizona general election will be held on November 6, 2012, with early voting starting today. 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.” Make your voice heard in 2012!

Eric Shelley, like both of his parents, was born and raised in Arizona. He grew up in Mesa and graduated from Westwood High School, after which he received a degree in psychology from Arizona State University. Since then, Shelley has worked for the same employer — a large health benefits company — for the duration of his career. His current role involves planning budgets and determining the number of new employees the company needs to hire. Shelley says this makes him “a true job creator.”


“Legislators … are not doctors and should not insert themselves into decisions that patients and doctors should make.”


According to his website, after more than 20 years in the private sector, Shelley “understands the challenges faced by employees and employers alike.” Additionally, Shelley’s role as a community activist has brought him into contact with Arizonans who have fallen on hard times. Shelley refers to them as “Arizonans who have worked hard, played by the rules, and yet still find themselves losing their jobs, their homes, their dignity and their security.” People like these have inspired Shelley to want to “work hard to help our neighbors find solutions to these challenges and get our state back on track.”

Eric Shelley is running to represent the newly drawn Legislative District 28, which includes Paradise Valley and parts of Phoenix. He took the time for an interview with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona on October 7, 2012.

How will your career in the field of health benefits inform your decision-making process when considering health-care-related bills?

My experience in health care goes beyond the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. I grew up around health care professionals. My mother is a nurse practitioner and my sister is a physician’s assistant. I understand that medical issues are complex and highly personal. Public policy makers should take steps to increase access to the entire range of health care services.

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) — and your opponent, Adam Driggs, voted in favor of all of them. Do you feel that his views are consistent with the majority of Arizonans?

Sen. Driggs has cast many votes that are completely out of touch with the views of Arizona voters. With his votes on less money and more guns for Arizona schools, votes to cut 47,000 Arizona children from KidsCare, and these crucial votes on reproductive-rights issues, Sen. Driggs has been a rubber stamp for the tea party legislature the voters of Arizona have had to endure the last few years. I will work to make sure the Arizona legislature will focus on the right priorities for Arizona. Continue reading