A Visit to Jeff Flake’s Office: Fighting for Health Care

Jeff Flake, 2014. Photo: Gage Skidmore

January 24 was a national day of action called by the groups MoveOn, Indivisible, and the Working Families Party. The goal was to visit our senators’ offices around the country with concerns about Donald Trump’s cabinet appointments. In Tucson, there was an action outside Sen. John McCain’s office, but instead of joining that, I decided to go by myself to Sen. Jeff Flake’s office to tell someone on his staff my health care story. I was surprised and delighted to find a group from the SaddleBrooke Democratic Club there before me, standing partly inside and partly outside the office, talking specifically about Trump’s cabinet nominees Jeff Sessions and Betsy DeVos. Someone offered me a letter about DeVos, which I refused, not wanting to dilute my message. I joined the group, and a few others straggled in.


We are stronger when we work together, and there is room for whatever kind of action you are able to take.


Several people spoke to a staff person about education and civil rights. One woman brought up the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and how it has helped her family, hoping that Flake would hear people like her who are afraid of what repeal would mean. Someone asked whether Sen. Flake received letters; he had sent in several with no response. There was also talk about what kinds of communications are most likely to receive the senator’s attention. Hint: It was not mass emails sent in by organizations. Personal communications in person or by phone, or personal letters, are more likely to get attention than emails.

A Latina woman sat down with me to get my information. When I asked what her position was, she said this was her first day as an intern in the office. I wished her well and congratulated her, but told her I wanted to speak with someone on the staff. The intern took my name and address, then referred me to a staff member, the same woman who had met with the group from SaddleBrooke. She was interested and friendly. I said I was there to discuss Medicare and Medicaid specifically because they were the reason I was alive today. More than nine years ago, when I had valley fever and developed lumps on my legs, my doctor sent me for a chest x-ray, which showed a spot on my lung. The radiologist recommended a CT scan for a better look at it. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Corin Hammond for State Representative, LD 11

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!

Corin Hammond croppedArizona’s Legislative District 11 covers an area northwest of Tucson that includes Marana, Oro Valley, Catalina, and Picture Rocks, extending as far north as Maricopa City. The district is currently represented in the House by Republicans Mark Finchem and Vince Leach. The district — or the district that preceded it, which covered much of the same area — has in the past been represented by Democrats or by moderate-to-liberal Republicans, and I know that we can be again.

Corin Hammond is running for an LD 11 seat in the House. She generously answered our questions on July 25, 2016.


“The right to make decisions regarding one’s own body is essential to the American values of opportunity and freedom.”


Tell us a little about your background.

I am a 31-year-old finishing my Ph.D. in soil and water chemistry at the University of Arizona. I have a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Louisiana State University and a master’s degree in inorganic chemistry from the University of Arizona. I was born in Corvallis, Oregon, but moved all over the country including Las Cruces, New Mexico, Fairfax, Virginia, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Narragansett, Rhode Island. Now I live in Marana, Arizona, with my husband, David, and my baby girl, Summer, who will turn 2 in September. We have two dogs, Winston and Hazel.

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

Allocating funding for public education at a nationally competitive rate will allow Arizona to achieve high-performing public education programs at all levels. High-performing public education for pre-K-12 is a cornerstone to reducing crime rates, ending the cycle of poverty, and developing a skilled workforce that will attract high-tech business development to Arizona and bring good, high-paying jobs to our state. State-funded all-day pre-K and kindergarten programs are essential to closing the gender wage gap. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Ralph Atchue for State Senator, LD 11

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!

atchueArizona’s Legislative District 11 covers an area northwest of Tucson that includes Oro Valley, Picture Rocks, Marana, and Catalina, and extends as far north as Casa Grande. Steve Smith is our current senator, known for his anti-choice record and involvement in the 2013 lawsuit that sought to eliminate Arizona’s Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.


“Reality-based comprehensive sex education is necessary if we are serious about reducing STDs and unwanted pregnancies.”


This district, or the previous district that covered much of this area, has been represented by Democrats in the past in both the state Senate and the House, and can be again. I was therefore pleased to interview Ralph Atchue, who is running in LD 11 to unseat Sen. Smith.

Mr. Atchue generously took the time to answer our questions on July 10, 2016.

Tell us a little about your background.

[I’m a] 33-year employee of the United States Postal Service — all in Illinois. [I’ve spent] 12 years [as] steward and local president with the National Association of Letter Carriers, and 21 years representing the National Association of Postal Supervisors. Retired as a postmaster.

[I’m a] four-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force. Moved to Arizona in 2005. Worked as a volunteer in campaigns from 2006 to 2014 — Obama, Kirkpatrick, McGuire campaigns. Worked for the past three years with others to rebuild the Casa Grande Democrats — [I have served as] secretary/treasurer, Democratic P.C., and member of the ADP state committee. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Holly Lyon for State Representative, LD 11

The Arizona primary election will be held on August 26, 2014, and early voting began on July 31. 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!

Holly LyonRetired U.S. Air Force Colonel Holly Lyon is running for Legislative District 11 state representative. Reaching from the outskirts of Tucson up the Interstate-10 corridor, LD 11 comprises both Pima and Pinal counties, including SaddleBrooke, Marana, and Casa Grande. By running, Lyon hopes to bring balance back to the district in which she feels the majority views are not currently represented.

On July 18, 2014, Lyon took the time to speak with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona and detail her views on accessible health care and reaching out to Arizona’s youth through comprehensive sex education.


“Women should not be made to feel guilty or ashamed when deciding to have a legal health care procedure.”


Tell us a little about your background.

I am a retired Air Force colonel with 26 years of service. In my last job, I was assigned to the Pentagon as director of education and training for 90,000 IT personnel. Prior to my U.S. Air Force service, I taught seventh grade for one year. After my U.S. Air Force service, I worked for two corporations before “retiring” again to move to Arizona to be closer to my mother who has lived in Green Valley for 38 years.

I was born in Port Angeles, Washington, but also grew up in a military family as my father and step-father were in the Coast Guard and Navy respectively.

Since moving to Arizona, I’ve served in several volunteer positions within and outside my residential community of SaddleBrooke.

Why do you think it’s important that people make their own health care decisions?

Each of us must live with our own health. Our bodies belong to only us, and we have to live with what we have and can make of them. We try to make the best health care decisions we can, under each of our unique circumstances. Continue reading

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

The Arizona primary election will be held on August 26, 2014, and early voting began on July 31. 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!

Jo HoltArizona’s Legislative District 11 covers northwest Pima County, including Marana, Oro Valley, and Catalina, and parts of Pinal County, including SaddleBrooke, Casa Grande, and the town of Maricopa. Jo Holt, who is running for the Arizona Senate, lives in Oro Valley.

Dr. Holt is a retired research scientist with a background in biochemistry. More recently, she has been involved in Arizona politics; she previously ran for state Senate in 2012, when she was also endorsed by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona. You can read the interview we conducted with her then to learn more about her background, as well as her positions on conscience clauses and sex education.

She was kind enough to answer some questions for me this year as well, on July 31.


“I believe in an America that lends a helping hand, not one that punishes at taxpayer expense.”


It’s great to talk to you again! How has your desire to serve 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?

Thank you, Rachel. I am still very much committed to making a difference in the lives of the people of Arizona, and to becoming an effective advocate for those who live in my legislative district. The extension of Medicaid, the successful petition drive against the voter repression bill, and Gov. Brewer’s veto of the “religious liberty” bill all give me hope that the public is getting increasingly fed up with our state legislative majority. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Dave Joseph for State Representative, 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.” Make your voice heard in 2012!

Dave Joseph is running for the Arizona House of Representatives in Legislative District 11. He is the only Democratic candidate, running against two Republicans, Steve Smith and Adam Kwasman. Although there are two seats open, we are recommending “single shot voting” in this district. This means that we recommend voting only for Dave Joseph, which actually benefits him, as that vote will be weighted in his favor.

Joseph was interviewed by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona on October 6, 2012; our questions and his responses are recorded below.


“Just as I wouldn’t want a politician to perform surgery on me, I certainly don’t want them directing caregivers how to speak to and treat patients.”


Tell us a little about your background.

I am a successful business owner and job creator. Over my long career, I have acquired and run local television stations in Arizona, Missouri, and Mississippi. By re-investing and re-focusing resources, I was able to skillfully turn around stations that had been on the verge of bankruptcy. The result was more jobs, better pay and benefits for the staff, and a large return for investors.  Recently I have been consulting with the Regional Transportation Authority of Pima County, which has given me an appreciation for the people and processes that make government function.

My wife, Michele, and I have been Oro Valley residents for over 20 years. As the father of three exceptional daughters, I know the value of a great educational system and the importance of unrestrained access to health care.

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?

The primary function of government is to protect its people. We should be working to move health policy forward in this state, innovating to lower costs while improving outcomes. The demonization and defunding of Planned Parenthood is another example of the irresponsible choice of serving ideologues over effective and efficient health care. Government has no business intruding in the freedom of our citizens to privately choose medical providers. Planned Parenthood plays an important role in reducing the number of unintended pregnancies by providing access to education, information, and affordable birth control. Further, the recently passed 20-week abortion ban is so intrusive that it is applicable two weeks before conception even occurs. Government and business must refrain from interfering between a woman, her doctor, and her faith. 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