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-weichert[T]he 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: Bill Gates for State Senator, LD 17

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!

[A]long with education and foreclosures, the recent legislation aimed at Planned Parenthood is one of the top issues Bill Gates includes on his website. Gates points to HB2800, the bill that defunded Planned Parenthood, as an example of “vindictive” legislation that harms Arizonans rather than helping them. As Gates writes in his scathing criticism, HB2800 was “intended to hurt Planned Parenthood” and punishes the “women, men and children who turn to Planned Parenthood clinics for their health needs.” That Gates takes such a strong stand for the preventive and reproductive health services that are under attack is testament to his commitment to the best interests of the constituents he seeks to serve.

“My wife and I fought these battles 40 years ago and we’re angry that they now have to be fought again in Arizona.”

Gates and his running mate, House candidate Karyn Lathan, are both endorsed by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona, and are running to represent Legislative District 17, which covers eastern Chandler, northwestern Gilbert, and all of Sun Lakes. Gates generously took the time for an interview with us on September 28, 2012.

In the previous legislative session, there were a lot of bad bills that negatively affected access to birth control (HB 2625), funding for family planning (HB 2800), abortion (HB2036), and unbiased information about unintended pregnancies in public schools (SB1009) — and your opponent, Steve Yarbrough, voted in favor of all of them.  Do you feel that his views are consistent with the majority of Arizonans?

His views are at odds with the majority of Arizonans but because he keeps a low profile, and because he has never previously faced serious direct opposition, most voters in the district don’t know about his terrible record on reproductive issues. But he is one of the most reliable supporters in the Legislature of the extreme positions advocated by Cathi Herrod and the Center for Arizona Policy.

During the campaign I have stressed Sen. Yarbrough’s conflict of interest in running a school tuition organization that receives Arizona income tax dollars. He is able to vote on and, indeed, propose legislation directly benefiting STOs. But the next biggest difference between the two of us involves reproductive rights — a point I made September 24 when the two of us appeared jointly before an Arizona Republic East Valley editorial board considering endorsements. Continue reading