Meet Our Candidates: Athena Salman for State Representative, LD 26

The time to fight back — and fight forward — for reproductive justice is fast approaching. The stakes are high in this year’s state election, with candidates for governor, secretary of state, attorney general, and other races on the ballot. The Arizona general election will be held November 6, 2018, and with early voting beginning on October 10. Voters need to be registered by October 9 to cast their ballots. Reproductive health has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who put our health and our rights first. Get to know them now in our series of “Meet Our Candidates” interviews, and make your voice heard in 2018!

Legislative District 26 is a magnet for people who care about Arizona’s most pressing issues: reproductive justice, immigrants’ rights, LGBTQ equality, and strong public education. Given the deep pool of talent from which this district draws, it has a history of exciting legislators who fight for these values at the Capitol. Athena Salman is no exception. After a successful first term, she is running for reelection in order to continue representing her district, which includes Tempe, Mesa, Phoenix, and the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.


“If we don’t remain diligent in protecting our rights, then the discrimination we see now will pale in comparison to what’s down the pipeline.”


When Salman began her first term in 2017, she soon joined women from both parties in accusing Rep. Don Shooter (R-Yuma) of sexual harassment. The story ended in February, when the House voted 56 to 3 to expel Rep. Shooter, an event that marked the first time a state lawmaker was ousted from office in the #MeToo era. Around the same time, Salman was making headlines for spearheading the #LetItFlow campaign, bringing awareness to female prisoners’ lack of adequate access to menstrual hygiene products. In both instances, Salman centered her actions on protecting the dignity of women everywhere in the state.

Thanks to her passionate advocacy for these and other issues during her first two years in office, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona is pleased to endorse Rep. Salman for a second term. She took the time to respond to our questions on September 18, 2018.

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?

My entire life, my mother’s entire life, even my grandmother’s entire life, for as long as we can remember, women have been harassed and shamed for exercising our constitutional right to reproductive health care and self-determination.

However, from #MeToo to #TimesUp we are seeing women from all backgrounds uniting and saying “Enough is enough!” With Roe v. Wade hanging in the balance, women are raising our voices in the one place where we are truly equal, the ballot, and making sure we are being heard loud and clear. Need proof? This primary election alone saw women in Maricopa County outnumber men in early voting by 65,000. As several have already stated, the future is female. Continue reading

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

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