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-weichertThe 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: Adrian Fontes for Maricopa County Recorder

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!

Adrian Fontes, a Democrat, is running for Maricopa County Recorder, an office that became the target of public rage and national bad press during the Presidential Preference Election on March 22, 2016, when thousands of voters found themselves stranded in long lines at Maricopa County polling places.

The current recorder, Republican Helen Purcell, had reduced the number of polling places from more than 200 to 60, causing bottlenecks and preventing some voters from casting ballots.


“The disenfranchisement of thousands of voters is contrary to the principles this country was founded on.”


Fontes, a father of three daughters, decided to run because he was outraged by the events of March 22. Mother Jones headlined an April 11 story about him: “Angered by Arizona’s Botched Election, One Man Decides to Run for Office.”

In his August 12, 2016, email to Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona, he said that “the disenfranchisement of thousands of voters is contrary to the principles this country was founded on. This needs to stop. We need solutions, not excuses. My campaign is about protecting democracy for every voter.”

At an Arizona House Elections Committee hearing after the debacle, an angry Fontes said, to cheers and applause, “A political culture that worships at the altar of slashing budgets will eventually lead to the complete collapse of our most sacred democratic institutions: the right for Americans to vote. You are as responsible for this as anyone else.”

Fontes, who speaks fluent Spanish, graduated summa cum laude from the Arizona State University Honors College in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in communication.

Tell us a little about your background.

I am an Arizona Native, former U.S. Marine, small business owner, and attorney with more than 10 years experience in criminal prosecution, law enforcement, and issues of Constitutional rights. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Scott Prior for State Senator, LD 16

The Arizona primary election takes place TODAY! Find your polling location here. 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 today’s 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!

Scott Prior is resilient and tenacious in his commitment to underrepresented citizens. He is running for the state Senate in Arizona’s Legislative District 16 for the third time. He previously ran in 2012 and 2014, at which time he shared his thoughts with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona (PPAA). PPAA has endorsed Mr. Prior each time because as a Democrat who is independent-minded, he places the interest of people over the interest of profit. He is committed to individual freedom and believes that human dignity should come before corporate, government, or religious interests. Mr. Prior’s wife is running in the same district for the state House of Representatives. Scott and Cara have been married 20 years and live in Apache Junction. They are both committed to reproductive justice.


“Sex education should be age-appropriate and provided in schools.”


Legislative District 16 includes Apache Junction, East Mesa, Gold Canyon, and northern San Tan Valley. Mr. Prior will be running against Republican David Farnsworth. Sen. Farnsworth believes that abortions should always be illegal and does not believe that the Arizona government should fund clinics and medical facilities that provide abortion services. Sen. Farnsworth also does not support sex education in schools, increasing funding for programs to prevent teen pregnancy, the inclusion of sexual orientation in Arizona’s anti-discrimination laws, or recognizing same-sex marriages.

On July 8, 2016, Mr. Prior generously took time to share his thoughts with PPAA again via Skype, sharing why he is more determined than ever to win this election.

Since PPAA last spoke with you, 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?

The serious mistakes made over the last two years by the state Legislature have made me even more resolved to make a difference in the state of Arizona. Funding for schools has been slashed while corporate tax breaks and funding for private prisons have been increased. I do not want to see what has happened in Kansas happen in Arizona. In Kansas, there has not been enough money to keep the schools open the entire year.

As a secular humanist, I do not believe or follow any religion. It is unacceptable for the Phoenix City Council and the Arizona Legislature to deny all but Judeo-Christian faiths from taking part in opening invocations. It is important that we all understand the importance of the separation of church and state. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Stefanie Mach for State Representative, LD 10

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!

Stefanie_Mach_HeadshotStefanie Mach is seeking a third term in the Arizona House representing Legislative District 10. When she first won in 2012, her hometown newspaper in Wisconsin noted that Mach had overcome nearly insurmountable odds to get there.

As a teenager, Mach and a friend were involved in a minor automobile accident, but stepping out of the car they stepped on a live electrical line. The friend died instantly. Mach was severely burned, lost her right arm, and the sight in one eye.


“Sex education is only effective if it addresses real relationships and safe-sex practices for all.”


“If you’re already at the bottom, there is nowhere to go but up,” Mach told the newspaper. “What do you do after your life has changed so dramatically?”

What she did was become the first member of her family to graduate from college — the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point — after which she earned a master of public policy degree at Brown University.

Deeply affected by the events of September 11, 2001, Mach joined AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps, responding to a flood disaster, teaching in an elementary school, and working on the Cumberland Trail, a wildlife preserve, and Habitat for Humanity houses.

In the Legislature, Mach has focused on improving education, infrastructure, and the child welfare system, and protecting state parks and growing small business.

Rep. Mach, whom PPAA first endorsed four years ago, responded to our questions by email on August 4, 2016.

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?

After two terms in the Legislature, I’ve developed strong relationships, I understand the system, and I’m more aware of how critical it is that we continue to strongly advocate for reasonable policies that serve all Arizonans, not just the wealthy and privileged. The good news is that I run into more and more people who feel the same and are willing to work alongside me to reach our goals. True change is difficult and requires a lot of push and a little patience. Sometimes this change happens quietly, behind closed doors, and with people whose names you’ll never learn. This unrest we feel lately, as a nation, is proof that it is happening. What we do with this unease will determine what the change looks like. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Rosanna Gabaldón for State Representative, LD 2

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!

Photo of Rosanna Gabaldón.When Rosanna Gabaldón and her family moved to Sahuarita in 2004, the town was transforming from a quiet bedroom community of a few thousand people to a town that, six years later, had a population of more than 25,000 people, according to the 2010 Census. Witnessing the evolving needs of her Southern Arizona town — and taking seriously the idea that she should give back to her community — propelled Gabaldón into the political career that she has now. In 2009, she was elected to the Sahuarita Town Council, and in 2012 she took her service to the regional level when she decided to run for Arizona State Legislative District 2, which covers an area from South Tucson to Nogales.


“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”


As a State Representative, Rep. Gabaldón has been an advocate for women and reproductive health, earning the endorsements of Arizona List, the Arizona Women’s Political Caucus, and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona.

Rep. Gabaldón is seeking reelection to continue representing LD 2, and she took time for an interview on July 31, 2016, to tell us more about her background and her campaign.

Since we last spoke in 2012, 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 commitment to serving Arizona has increased. When I was first elected to the House of Representatives, I made a commitment to do my homework on the issues, and to take ideas from Southern Arizona to the Capitol. That is what Arizona needs, some common sense straight from the heart. In my second election in 2014, I recommitted to continue the fight for our values. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Nikki Bagley for State Senator, LD 6

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!

Nikki Bagley croppedThe sprawling 6th Legislative District covers a large swath of rural Arizona, from the Grand Canyon in the north to the Tonto National Forest in the south, and from Jerome in the west to Holbrook in the east. LD 6 is currently represented in the state Senate by Sylvia Allen, who in the past has opposed Medicaid expansion and whose record on education is not stellar; as head of the Senate Education Committee, Sen. Allen blocked legislation that would have improved sex education in Arizona, making it medically accurate, inclusive of all students, and opt-out rather than opt-in.


Education is the “best investment we can make for the future of Arizona.”


As a young mother, Nikki Bagley has a personal stake in improving Arizona’s education system so that our state is not only a beautiful place to live, but also a better place to raise a family. As a former city council member and mayor of Jerome, she has ample experience balancing budgets and serving her constituents. As Senator, she would replace Allen’s extremism with a moderating influence that is more in line with her district’s values. For these reasons and more, Ms. Bagley is our endorsed candidate for Senate in LD 6.

Ms. Bagley generously took the time to answer our questions on July 12, 2016.

Tell us a little about your background.

I am an Arizona native, farmer, teacher, and mother. I currently run the viticulture program at Yavapai College and am also the former mayor of Jerome. These experiences have helped to shape me as a person and my campaign for state Senate, particularly my focus on education and issues important to rural Arizona. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Richard Andrade for State Representative, LD 29

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!

Legislative District 29, a West Valley district that includes Glendale and West Phoenix, is hosting a competitive House race this August — and that’s just the primary election, in which four Democratic candidates will be battling it out for two spots on November’s general election ballot. One of those candidates is incumbent Richard Andrade, who we endorsed in 2014 and are proud to endorse again.

Rep. Andrade is the great-grandson of Mexican immigrants, a third-generation railroader, a union member, and a U.S. Air Force veteran. On his website, some of the issues he prioritizes include health care, education, discrimination, and the struggles of working families.

Rep. Andrade generously took the time to answer our questions on July 4, 2016.


“Many working families are struggling to make a living and I have been fighting for them since I was elected.”


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?

Serving my first term in office has shown me the truth about politics in Arizona. Our Republican-led Legislature takes care of big businesses and corporations and not working families who need the tax cuts, but would rather cut programs for working families who need the assistance in order to survive. This has strengthened my commitment to run for re-election. I also have been very involved in participating in many actions against employers who have wrongfully terminated or harassed employees for wanting better working conditions, pay, and most importantly, access to affordable health care. Although there have been some victories, Arizona has a long way to go to protect working families. Continue reading