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

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

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Single-Shot Voting in Arizona on November 4

What is single-shot voting?

The Arizona governor’s race is straight-forward: There is one seat open, and you can only vote for one candidate to fill that seat. Some races have more than one seat open and there are multiple candidates running to fill multiple seats. In the district races for Arizona House of Representative seats, there are two seats to fill and often more than two candidates are running.


In House races in which we only endorse one candidate, you can maximize your vote’s impact with a single-shot vote.


What happens if a voter looks at their options for those races and sees only one candidate who aligns with their values and goals for the state? Easy. You vote for only that candidate. When a voter casts their ballot for only one candidate instead of two, that vote automatically receives a greater percentage of all ballots cast. Your candidate now has a better chance at winning the election. That is single-shot voting.

Each of the following four PPAA-endorsed candidates are the only advocates for reproductive justice and LGBTQ rights running in their districts. You can help these individuals by voting only for them.

IMG_0920 (2)Carmen Casillas is the only Democratic candidate for Arizona House of Representatives in Legislative District 8. The other two options in this race are Frank Pratt and T.J. Shope — both incumbents, Republicans, and proactive in ensuring that an Arizona woman’s reproductive rights remain extremely limited. Casillas’ previous political experience ranges from vice mayor and councilwoman for the city of Globe. She also believes all people should be treated equally and with respect: “it doesn’t matter — color, race, creed religion, sexuality.” Casillas has made it clear that working to increase the equality and respect of Arizona women is a priority: “I’m going to aggressively fight for women to have the right to choose their own health care.” Continue reading

Pro-Choice Friday News Rundown

  • copper iudArizona gubernatorial candidates participated in a televised debate the Monday before last, and nary a word was spoken about reproductive rights. We’re talkin’ radio silence here, peeps. (Democratic Diva)
  • While social issues, such as abortion and religious freedom, haven’t been a dominant part of the conversation in this race, they will absolutely be a dominant part of our next governor’s job. (AZ Central)
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics is now recommending the use of long-term contraceptives (like IUDs) for teen girls. PPAZ’s medical director agrees! (Public News Service)
  • Who else is ready to party at some legal (and not only ceremonial/symbolic) gay weddings in AZ? Our wish might soon be granted! (Tucson Sentinel)
  • Texas forced the closure of 13 abortion clinics last week, leaving the state’s 5.4 million women of reproductive age with only eight clinics, which are scattered throughout the state and not in convenient locations for many of the women in its most rural areas. Their AG (out-of-touch, privileged white guy) says driving up to 250 miles one way for an abortion is “manageable.” Because, yes, he’s the arbiter of what’s manageable for women of varying socioeconomic backgrounds. Ugh. (HuffPo)
  • Maybe if Texas hadn’t banned the safest, most affordable method of abortion (now available in only two states), this wouldn’t be such a hardship. (The Atlantic)
  • Ironically, the states with the most “pro-life” laws on the books provide the most craptacular health (and maternal) care to women. The infant/maternal mortality rates in these places are obscene. In these states (Arizona is one), the babies they force us to have are more likely to die at birth, and so are we in the process of having them. Thanks, conservatives! (Jezebel)
  • In case you weren’t aware, parental consent laws are terrible and pregnant teenagers who want to terminate their pregnancies are completely humiliated and put through the wringer by conservative judges. At a time when they least need it. (Mother Jones)
  • Starting next week, the University of California, San Francisco will commence the first online course on abortion care that’s ever been offered by a U.S. school. Considering there’s such a shortage of doctors who actually know how to perform abortions, it’s a great sign that more than 3,000 students have already signed up for the course. (Think Progress)

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

The Arizona general election will be held on November 4, 2014, and early voting starts today! 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!

Scott Prior scaledCovering parts of Pinal and Maricopa counties, including Gold Canyon, Apache Junction, and parts of Mesa, Legislative District 16 is home to more than 220,000 Arizona residents. Scott Prior made the decision to run for Senate in LD 16 so that his fellow constituents could be represented by someone who advocates for workers, makes education a priority, and supports equality for Arizonans regardless of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. Both he and his spouse Cara are seeking to represent LD 16 to bring more attention to those issues in the legislature, with Cara running for one of the open seats in the House of Representatives. Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed both Scott and Cara Prior because of their commitment to reproductive justice.

Mr. Prior returns to the campaign trail after running in 2012. At that time, he shared his thoughts with this blog on the many issues that needed to be addressed in the legislature, including Arizona’s high teen birth rate, inadequate sex education, and health care policy that interferes with private decisions between doctors and patients.

On October 4, Mr. Prior generously took the time to share his thoughts with us again, highlighting many of those same issues but explaining why he is hopeful for a better outcome in this year’s election.


“Let’s leave the practice of medicine to the doctors … and keep legislation out of it.”


It’s great to talk to you again! 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, and what has happened to strengthen your convictions?

Over the past two years, it has become even more imperative to get common sense people in the state legislature. We have seen a continuing shift over the past several years of elected officials working for the benefit of corporations and special interests, and away from helping the people of our great state. I firmly believe that until we can elect people who will concentrate on the important issues of the economy, creating jobs, and fixing our failing education, we will continue to be the laughingstock of the late-night comedy circuit.

This election cycle will be different, I believe, as my opponent doesn’t have the [same] name recognition and popularity as my opponent in 2012. This gives me hope that I might be able to make a difference, and have a good chance that this election will be much closer of a contest. My convictions are strengthened by the fact that in the 2014 primary, I gathered more votes than I did in the 2012 primary. This means that people are more interested in getting their voices heard, even in a midterm election.

Earlier this year, the state legislature passed HB 2284, which permits the health department to inspect abortion clinics without a warrant. What do you think about this new law?

I personally believe that HB 2284 is just another way for those who don’t believe women can make their own health care choices to try to intimidate and prevent women from exercising their constitutional rights. If those same people who supported this bill spent as much time working on taking care of children after they are born as they do before they are born, then my district would not have a 16 percent child poverty rate, 11 percent of the children in my district would not be without health insurance, and education statewide would not be ranked so low compared to other states. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Barbara McGuire for State Senate, LD 8

The Arizona general election will be held on November 4, 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.” Make your voice heard in 2014!

Portrait photograph of Barbara McGuire.Legislative District 8 is another of Arizona’s geographically expansive districts, reaching west to Maricopa, northeast to Globe, and south to Oracle and San Manuel. State Sen. Barbara McGuire has deep roots in this district, which gives her a practical and nuanced understanding of what her constituents want and need. As she seeks another term in the Arizona State Senate, she hopes to continue to advocate for the needs of rural Arizonans as well as a government that is “efficient, accountable, and responsive.”

Sen. McGuire took the time for an interview on September 25, 2014.


“Women’s health care needs are as individual as they are, and no one knows their issues and needs better than they do.”


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, and what has happened to strengthen your convictions?

I am honored to have served two terms in the House and a term as a senator. I have always had the desire to make people’s lives better. My 25-plus years as a Salvation Army Unit director, along with my time served as a legislator, have given me the venue to do just that. On the policy side, I have witnessed and participated in halting harmful legislation, and promoting and sponsoring beneficial legislation. I am said to be the most bipartisan legislator at the state Capitol. To be effective, you have to find common ground and move forward from there. It is not a one-size-fits-all legislature by any means. I treasure the relationships I have built over the years, and it gives me hope that, in being well received on both sides of the aisle, we will be able to work together to solve the important issues Arizona will face in the coming years.

Last legislative session, you voted against HB 2284, which now permits the health department to inspect abortion clinics without a warrant. How do you explain to constituents the unique nature of abortion care and the need for heightened privacy and safety for patients?

If there is no guarantee of privacy then women will be hesitant to use these facilities and perhaps choose a path that may result in leaving them unable to have children in the future or even end in their death. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Charlene Fernandez for State Representative, LD 4

The Arizona general election will be held on November 4, 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 general election, you must register to vote by midnight tonight — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2014!

LD4 teamDSC_0320-1Legislative District 4 stretches west to include parts of Yuma, north to Buckeye, east to the San Xavier Reservation near Tucson, and south to the U.S.-Mexico border. As she seeks to represent this district in the Arizona House of Representatives, Charlene Fernandez plans to make health care — along with education, economic development, and agriculture — a key issue in her campaign.

She was kind enough to take the time for an interview on September 24, 2014.


“We’ve seen our legislature repeatedly try to pass laws pressuring women into making health decisions that align with a certain ideology.”


Tell us a little about your background.

Born in Yuma, my roots in our community run deep. I served as a board member for the Yuma Community Foundation, the United Way of Yuma County and the Cultural Council of Yuma, as well as a San Luis Community Fund committee member. And I worked hand in hand with rural communities at the state Department of Environmental Quality as an appointee of Gov. Janet Napolitano.

I am a life-long Democrat and advocate for choice and progressive values. I was elected to the second-highest position in the Arizona Democratic Party, and was elected to many leadership roles in the Yuma County Democratic Party. My husband Sergio and I have three children, two grandchildren, and live in Yuma.

Earlier this year, the state legislature passed HB 2284, which permits the health department to inspect abortion clinics without a warrant. What do you think about this new law?

HB 2284 is an egregious violation of patient privacy and amounts to harassment. I am against this bill and any bill designed to restrict a woman’s health care options. Continue reading