Meet Our Candidates: Matt Kopec for State Representative, 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 must register to vote by August 1 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2016!

Matt KopecAt 27, Matt Kopec became the Arizona Legislature’s youngest member when the Pima County Board of Supervisors appointed him to a vacated House seat in January 2016. Kopec, former Pima County Democratic Party treasurer and aide to Tucson Councilwoman Karin Uhlich, replaced Victoria Steele in Legislative District 9. If she wins her primary, Ms. Steele will face U.S. Rep. Martha McSally in November.

Kopec, a Tucson native, serves on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and the Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee.


“Age-appropriate, medically accurate sex education … reduces unintended pregnancies and cases of sexually transmitted infections.”


Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona recommend LD 9 voters cast their ballots for both Rep. Kopec and fellow incumbent Rep. Randall Friese. Rep. Kopec generously took the time to answer our questions on July 6, 2016.

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

With the recent Supreme Court case regarding abortion access in Texas, we need to bring Arizona in compliance with that ruling. Although I do understand that may ultimately require legal action [to] be brought. Every woman has the right to access abortion services, and we need to stand up to any law that erodes that.  Continue reading

Pro-Choice Friday News Rundown

  • notorious-rbgA force to be reckoned with for sure … RBG is definitely the woman of the hour these days. (Slate Double X)
  • Rabidly conservative, forced-birth advocate, and noted homophobe Cathi Herrod continues to wreak havoc on the state of Arizona with SB 1318. (Phoenix New Times)
  • And somehow, SB 1318 has been amended to be even more sucktacular. Ever heard of “reversing” a medication abortion? No one with medical knowledge has, but Repubs just don’t care! (RH Reality Check)
  • AZ state Rep. Victoria Steele bravely came forward as a survivor of sexual assault in order to fight SB 1318. To say we salute her and are grateful for her advocacy would be a huge understatement. (Tucson Weekly)
  • You’d think a bill helping to combat the evil that is human sex trafficking would be a cut-and-dry piece of legislation that both parties could get behind, right? Well, when Republicans are in charge of the legislation, you can bet anti-abortion tomfoolery will ensue. Goal? Make life harder for sex trafficking victims who get pregnant and prefer not to have their rapists’ babies. (HuffPo)
  • And Jon Stewart (rightfully) has some choice words for the Dems who supported the bill without reading it. (The Daily Show)
  • Oh look, another Republican weasel (Nebraska state Rep. Justin Harris) who wants to all but ensure that rape victims end up giving birth against their will. And not just any rape victims … underage ones. (RH Reality Check)
  • Whoa. Canada can teach us a thing or two about age-appropriate, comprehensive sex education! (HuffPo Canada)

Post-Election News Rundown

Victories:

  • BIG4DEMNot many good things happened for the progressives, liberals, and Democrats here in AZ, but a few of our strongest reproductive-justice superstars are still standing. Congrats to U.S. representatives Ann Kirkpatrick, Ruben Gallego, Kyrsten Sinema, and Raul Grijalva! (Phoenix New Times)
  • Kyrsten Sinema’s victory in particular is quite a sweet one. Not only for the pro-choice crowd but also for the LGBTQ community. (LGBTQ Nation)
  • The Gilbert Public Schools governing board voted on October 28 to remove pages from an honors biology textbook because it does not give preference to childbirth or adoption over abortion. This is a prime reason why voting in school board elections is so important. (AZ Central)
  • Gilbert did just that on Tuesday when voters elected two school board members who will shift its balance in January — for the better! (AZ Central)

Counting Ballots:

  • The Ron Barber/Martha McSally race has taken an odd turn. Now that her lead over Barber has shrunk to 341 votes, Republican Martha McSally is attempting to get ballots in Pima County tossed out. Obviously we’re #TeamBarber. (Tucson Weekly)
  • Another Pima County nail-biter: It looks like Rep. Victoria Steele (D-Tucson) will continue to represent her constituents, but will she be joined by Dr. Randall Friese (also D-Tucson) or Republican incumbent Ethan Orr, who, as of this weekend, trails Friese by 199 votes? (Tucson Weekly)
  • Pima County spent the weekend counting ballots. (Tucson.com)
  • Yuma County, on the other hand, took a break over the weekend and will resume counting ballots today. At last count, Charlene Fernandez (D-Yuma) was a mere 65 votes ahead of her Republican challenger. (Tucson Sentinel)
  • Democrat Demion Clinco (the House’s only openly gay representative) appears to have been ousted by his Republican opponent, Chris Ackerley, in the Legislative District 2 House race — a surprise upset in this heavily Democratic district. As of Friday evening, Ackerley was 2,304 votes ahead of incumbent Clinco. The district’s newly reelected senator, women’s health champion Andrea Dalessandro, doesn’t predict the GOP newcomer will last long. (Green Valley News and Sun)

Beyond Arizona:

  • Personhood has failed to pass the sniff test with Colorado voters for the third time. The law, which would grant legal “personhood” rights to zygotes, has failed to pass in every state that has been ridiculous enough to put it on the ballot. Next stop? Georgia. (Slate Double XX)
  • Tennessee women are about to suffer grave consequences due to an extreme anti-abortion measure voted into law Tuesday. (Salon)
  • Old white guys are the main reason the election went GOP. (Slate)
  • White women basically cost Wendy Davis in Texas. (RH Reality Check)
  • Women of color are among the major losers now that the Senate is under GOP control. (RH Reality Check)

Legislative District 9 Candidates Clash on Reproductive Rights

On October 6, the three House candidates for the 9th legislative district met at a church in the Foothills of Tucson to discuss economic development, education, gun control, and reproductive rights. Given that the Democratic candidates, incumbent Victoria Steele and first-time candidate Randall Friese, are such strong advocates for reproductive justice — in stark contrast to the Republican candidate, incumbent Ethan Orr — Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona was there to take notes.

Steele debateRep. Victoria Steele, having just completed her first term in the Arizona House of Representatives, used part of her opening statement to reflect on her time at the Capitol: “Outside of raising my son to be an adult, this is the most meaningful thing I have done in my life.” She drew a connection between her professional background and her desire to serve her community as a legislator. “As a behavioral health counselor, I had to empower people one on one,” she explained. “As a state legislator, I get to do that on a much wider, much broader basis.”

Reproductive rights emerged as one of the major themes of the night. During her opening statement, Rep. Steele put her desire to “defend a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions” up front and center.

Later in the debate, Rep. Steele spoke in more detail about women’s rights. She advocated for equal pay, fair and living wages, and reproductive justice. “If women don’t have basic rights over their own bodies, they cannot equally contribute to the conversation, they cannot be at the table, they cannot be a player in moving our state forward,” she asserted. “If women don’t have these basic rights, they cannot contribute to the economy, and their families cannot have the quality of life that we so deserve in Arizona.” Continue reading

Ethan Orr’s Record Reveals Extreme Views Behind Moderate Branding

In the 9th legislative district, we endorse both Randall Friese and Victoria Steele ... not Ethan Orr!

In the 9th legislative district, we endorse both Randall Friese and Victoria Steele … not Ethan Orr!

Ethan Orr brands himself on his campaign website as a leader who “has worked across party lines” and will “bring people together to create community solutions.” It’s easy to see why his branding has gained currency — but with a little digging into his record, it’s just as easy to see how hollow it is.

The representative for Legislative District 9, who is running for re-election this November, seemed to be walking his talk back in February when he stopped in with state Sen. Steve Farley at Rocco’s Little Chicago Pizzeria in Tucson. Reacting to SB 1062, a bill that would have allowed businesses the right to refuse service to customers because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, Rocco’s put up a sign in defiance of the bill’s bigotry: “We reserve the right to refuse service to Arizona lawmakers.” The gesture of protest was soon in the news and spreading through social media, receiving accolades from people who thought it was the perfect response to a terrible bill. Orr and Farley decided to pay the pizzeria a visit, Orr carrying a print-out of the Senate vote that showed his opposition to the bill.


A little digging into Ethan Orr’s record reveals a legislator who doesn’t stand for LGBTQ rights or reproductive justice.


Unfortunately, there’s more to Orr’s record on LGBTQ issues than this story. Orr was absent from the list of sponsors when LD 9’s other representative, Victoria Steele, introduced SB 1443, another bill that addressed discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity — but this time prohibiting, rather than allowing, discrimination. The same goes for SCR 1012, a bill Steele and other legislators introduced to recognize same-sex marriage. Orr stood up to a bill that would have allowed more wrongs, but his inaction on SB 1443 and SCR 1012 leaves voters to wonder if that’s the limit of his concerns.

Orr is also credited for voting in favor of Gov. Brewer’s Medicaid expansion. But given Brewer’s threat to veto all other legislation until other Republicans fell in line with her — and her promises to help those who did fall in line through the support of her Arizona’s Legacy PAC — Orr’s positions when there are no unusual incentives at stake might be more telling. And his positions look dismal when it comes to women’s health. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Randall Friese for State Representative, LD 9

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!

Randall FrieseDr. Randall Friese is running to represent central and northwestern Tucson in the House of Representatives. On July 23, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Dr. Friese at Bentley’s House of Coffee & Tea to discuss his campaign. We talked about his background in medicine, his position on reproductive rights, and the stark contrast between him and his Republican opponent, Ethan Orr.

I found Dr. Friese to be personable and passionate about Arizona. He is a man who has a deep commitment to this community, and will work hard to do what is best, regardless of where that takes him. He and fellow Democrat Victoria Steele have both earned our endorsement, and we hope that voters will send them to the Capitol in November to represent Legislative District 9!


“Sex education is necessary for a stable career, which benefits everybody.”


Tell us a little about your background.

Currently I am a trauma surgeon. After I finished my service with the United States Navy, I was faculty in Texas. I had the opportunity to go to a few places, but my wife and I chose Tucson, and this is our home now.

After the [2011 Tucson] shooting, I started paying attention to what was going on at the Arizona State Capitol. I wanted to participate. I enrolled in two programs with Leading for Change Arizona, and with the support of some great people I made the decision to enter politics. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Victoria Steele for State Representative, LD 9

The Arizona primary election will be held on August 26, 2014. 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 primaries, you must register to vote by July 28 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2014!

Steele,-Victoria_10Victoria Steele has represented Tucson’s Legislative District 9 in the Arizona House of Representatives since 2012, and is now running for reelection. To get an idea of why we’re so excited to support her, check out her recent op-ed in the Arizona Daily Star, in which she discusses how last month’s Supreme Court decisions might embolden foes of reproductive justice here in Arizona. We’re also proud to introduce you to her here!

We had a wonderful conversation on July 10 at Raging Sage in Tucson, where Ms. Steele talked to us about her accomplishments and goals; her commitment to abortion access and comprehensive sexuality education; and her Republican opponent, Ethan Orr, whose voting record on reproductive health is out of step with the views held by the majority of his constituency. While you can hope that Ethan Orr will vote in favor of women’s health, you can know that Victoria Steele and her fellow Democratic candidate Dr. Randall Friese will do so!

Read on to get to know Ms. Steele even better!


“It’ll be even harder to get our rights back if we’ve lost them all, so let’s not let that happen.”


Interviewer: I’m glad we get to meet in person this time! How has your commitment to serving Arizona grown over the past two years? On the policy level, what has happened during that time to give you hope?

Representative Steele: I was really excited to see that we were able to finally defeat SB 1062 [a bill that would have allowed discrimination on religious grounds, for example against LGBTQ people]. That gives me a lot of hope. The only reason that happened is because the community got mad. The governor’s veto came way too late as far as I’m concerned.

That was a very hopeful thing, because it showed what I really suspected was true, that a majority of the people do not feel that we have the right to discriminate. There is a very vocal minority that feels otherwise. To me, that is hopeful.

A poll of Arizona Republicans showed they were in favor of vetoing SB 1062. It just shows how quickly the tide is turning, which is pretty exciting to me.

It is. Continue reading