Meet Our Candidates: Gilbert Romero for State Representative, LD 21

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 primary election will be held August 28, 2018, and voters need to be registered by July 30 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!

Just weeks before he announced his candidacy for state representative late last year, Gilbert Romero was hitting the pavement for another campaign — the nationwide push for the Medicare for All Act. Although he’s only in his mid-20s, Romero has ample experience as a canvasser and community organizer in the Phoenix metro area. In addition to Medicare expansion, he has been an advocate and activist for the rights of working families and immigrant communities.


“It’s a fundamental right for people to have autonomy over their bodies and lives.”


Romero also brings “deep Arizona roots” to his candidacy, as he puts it on his campaign website. His family has been in Phoenix’s West Valley for generations — and, lately, that’s where he’s been going door to door to talk to community members. Romero seeks to represent Legislative District 21, which includes the West Valley communities of Peoria, Surprise, El Mirage, Sun City, and Youngtown.

A recent incident in the first of those cities puts in sharp focus the need for candidates like Romero, who is also an ardent supporter of reproductive rights. Peoria made national headlines last month when a pharmacist there refused to fill a prescription for local first-grade teacher Nicole Arteaga. Arteaga had gone to the pharmacy after learning from her physician that her pregnancy would end in miscarriage, as the fetus she was carrying had no heartbeat. The pharmacist, though, cited ethical objections to providing medications that would safely end her pregnancy. He was protected by a 2012 “right to refuse” law that Democratic state legislators have been trying to repeal since it passed.

When it comes to reproductive rights, Romero doesn’t mince words. As he wrote on social media earlier this year, “Our campaign unapologetically supports a woman’s right to choose.” It was that commitment that earned Romero the endorsement of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona (PPAA). Romero generously took the time to tell PPAA more about his background, positions, and campaign on July 8, 2018.

Please tell us a little about your background.

I’m a third-generation Arizonan who’s lived in my district for my whole life. I earned my bachelor’s degree in women and gender studies in 2015 and then worked as a community organizer with Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA) working on the Fight for $15 campaign, fighting for workers’ rights. I’ve also been arrested fighting for the immigrant community.

I was also appointed the Young Ambassador from the City of Peoria, to Newtownards, Northern Ireland, when I was 16, representing my city in a cultural exchange program. I’ve always had a passion for public service and community organizing. Continue reading

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

Ignoring the Forecast: Eleven Candidates to Beat the Red District Blues

The following post was written by Marcy, Matt, and Anna.

Past election patterns and current forecasts can give pundits and the public a good idea of what to expect on Election Day, but they guarantee nothing. A new, unique, or charismatic candidate can inspire an unexpected voter turnout and make predictions less reliable — while low-turnout elections, on the other hand, commonly favor the status quo and conservative candidates. That’s why we’re spotlighting candidates whose qualities are outstanding — but whose districts haven’t always favored candidates like them. Extraordinary odds call for extraordinary candidates to overcome them, and we think these are the candidates for the job.

Let’s meet some of our endorsed candidates — all Democrats — who are currently campaigning in districts with Republican advantages.

Legislative districts 16, 20, 21, 22, and 25 on a map

Continue reading

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

The Arizona general election will be held on November 4, 2014, and early voting is already underway! 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!

arky muscatoIn Legislative District 22, which serves approximately 85,000 people and covers ground including Sun City West, Mountain Vista, Surprise, and Lake Pleasant, Archangel “Arky” Muscato is running for a seat in the state Senate, which he hopes to win from incumbent Judy Burges.

Sen. Burges recently named health care as one of her top three priorities. This priority does not include reproductive health care for the women of LD 22 — as Burges makes clear, they are excluded from those she intends to serve: “I am pro-life and will work to protect the most vulnerable among us, whether they are at the beginning of life or the end of life.” Her voting record substantiates her exclusion of those who need protection in the middle of their lives: Burges was a prime sponsor of HB 2284, which authorizes unannounced inspections of abortion facilities without a warrant.

Sen. Burges also cites the importance of education across Arizona school districts, but excludes Arizona’s school children from those she intends to protect, as she supports the largely ineffective abstinence-only sex education instead of comprehensive sex education, preventing students from learning about essential quality of life issues, including how to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

Finally, Burges’ campaign promises to exclude the LGBTQ community from the groups she is willing to serve — demonstrated by her vote in favor of discrimination on the grounds of religion (SB 1062) and her views that she “support[s] Arizona’s Constitution and believe[s] that the institution of marriage between one man and one woman should be protected,” which runs against the grain of Arizona’s future.

Conversely, Mr. Muscato is running on a platform of “equal rights for all Arizonans.” He was kind enough to talk to us via telephone on October 15, 2014, to speak in more depth about his commitment to all human rights.


“My opponent is for limited government except when it comes to women’s rights and gay rights.”


Tell us a little about your background.

I came to Arizona in 1978 out of Buffalo, New York, with a bachelor’s of science in education. I started teaching under contract in the Deer Valley District in 1979. I retired in 2006, and my wife also taught in Deer Valley for 30 years. So, after 30 years we both decided it was time to do something different, especially with the cuts in pay and benefits that were looming and the increased responsibilities with very little value placed on education and, specifically, teachers. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Bonnie Boyce-Wilson for State Representative, LD 22

The Arizona general election will be held on November 4, 2014, and early voting is already underway! 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!

Bonnie Boyce Wilson scaledIn Legislative District 22, which serves approximately 85,000 people and covers ground including Sun City West, Mountain Vista, Surprise, and Lake Pleasant, Bonnie Boyce-Wilson and Larry Woods ran unopposed during August’s Democratic primary for two seats in the House of Representatives.

In this November’s election, both Wilson and Woods face incumbents David Livingston and Phil Lovas, both of whom also ran unopposed in their Republican primary. Both Livingston and Lovas exclude the LGBTQ constituents of LD 22. Both voted in favor of SB 1062, which, if it had passed, would have allowed businesses to refuse service to LGBTQs under the excuse of “freedom of religion.” Livingston states that “marriage is only between a man and a women [sic]” and is opposed to legislation that would allow unmarried domestic partners the same employee and health benefits as married couples. Livingston is also against an anti-discrimination law that would add “sexual orientation,” “gender identity,” or “gender expression” to the protected classes of race, religion, age, sex, and ancestry.

The women of LD 22 are also not high priorities for either incumbent. Both voted in favor of HB 2284, which currently allows unannounced inspections of abortion facilities in Arizona. Lovas voted for HB 2036, which would have prohibited abortions after 20 weeks if it wasn’t unanimously struck down by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco for violating a woman’s constitutional rights. Livingston is opposed to abortion and believes “it is the duty of our government to protect the unborn.”

Boyce-Wilson specifically calls out Arizona women as one of her priorities. She is an advocate for: (1) working women, by supporting economic empowerment through equal pay for equal work; (2) victims of violence, by supporting the establishment and maintenance of shelters, as well as taking a proactive stance on human trafficking; and (3) all women, by supporting affordable access to health care, including reproductive health care.

Ms. Boyce-Wilson was kind enough to talk to us on October 13, 2014.


“As a social worker, I firmly believe that people have a right to self-determination, including making health care decisions.”


Tell us a little about your background.

I have lived in Sun City West, Arizona for 14 years, having retired as an administrator of the Division of Child Welfare in Colorado. I have a master’s degree in social work from the University of Denver and am certified by the National Association of Social Workers. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Larry Woods for State Representative, LD 22

The Arizona general election will be held on November 4, 2014, and early voting is already underway! 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!

Larry Woods scaledIn Legislative District 22, which serves approximately 85,000 people and covers ground including Sun City West, Mountain Vista, Surprise, and Lake Pleasant, Bonnie Boyce-Wilson and Larry Woods ran unopposed during August’s Democratic primary for two seats in the House of Representatives.

In this November’s election, both Wilson and Woods face incumbents David Livingston and Phil Lovas, both of whom also ran unopposed in their Republican primary. Both Livingston and Lovas exclude the LGBTQ constituents of LD 22. Both voted in favor of SB 1062, which, if it had passed, would have allowed businesses to refuse service to LGBTQs under the excuse of “freedom of religion.” Livingston states that “marriage is only between a man and a women [sic]” and is opposed to legislation that would allow unmarried domestic partners the same employee and health benefits as married couples. Livingston is also against an anti-discrimination law that would add “sexual orientation,” “gender identity,” or “gender expression” to the protected classes of race, religion, age, sex, and ancestry.

The women of LD 22 are also not high priorities for either incumbent. Both voted in favor of HB 2284, which currently allows unannounced inspections of abortion facilities in Arizona. Lovas voted for HB 2036, which would have prohibited abortions after 20 weeks if it wasn’t unanimously struck down by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco for violating a woman’s constitutional rights. Livingston is opposed to abortion and believes “it is the duty of our government to protect the unborn.”

Not content with the legislative decisions being made on behalf of his community, Woods decided to run and “do something about it.”

Mr. Woods was kind enough to talk to us on October 13, 2014.


“I would be proud to have a Planned Parenthood flag hanging outside my office — and I would defend it.”


Tell us a little about your background.

I was raised in a progressive household in a small town in Iowa. After receiving a degree in mathematics and psychology from a small college, I went on to receive a master’s degree in computer science from Purdue University. My career was with a Fortune 100 company where I worked in various information technology management roles. Continue reading