Meet Our Candidates: Denice Garcia for State Representative, LD 29

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!

Denice GarciaA competitive House race is underway in Legislative District 29, a West Valley district that includes Glendale and West Phoenix. Four Democratic candidates are competing in this month’s primary election, and the two winners will go on to face Republican challenger Aaron Borders in the November general election. Mr. Borders proudly touts his opposition to abortion rights, so it will be important to support our endorsed candidates in November.

The Democratic candidates are preparing for the primary election, which will be held on August 26. Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed three candidates running for House in LD 29: Richard Andrade, Denice Garcia, and Ceci Velasquez. Below is an interview with Denice Garcia — check out our interviews with Richard Andrade and Ceci Velasquez as well!

Ms. Garcia took the time for an interview via telephone on August 11, 2014.


“Making informed decisions should continue to be regarded as personal.”


Tell us a little about your background.

I’ve lived in Phoenix, Arizona for eight years. I’m married, three children, and originally from California. For several years, I’ve worked with children in behavioral health, wards of the court, youth in the judicial system, as well as provided court-mandated counseling for those affected by drugs and alcohol. In addition, I worked with an early intervention program that catered to babies and children born with various disabilities (nonverbal). I taught toddlers, children, and caregivers American Sign Language so that they could learn to communicate with each other. Working with youth, families, and communities is what I am both familiar and comfortable with.

Here in Arizona, I worked for DES/DDD, specifically the Division of Developmental Disabilities. Once again, I found myself advocating for the clients I served, both children and adults, being a voice to defend their rights as well as promoting and advocating for their quality of life.

Earlier this year, the state legislature passed HB 2284, the warrantless inspections bill, which permits the health department to inspect abortion clinics without a warrant. What do you think about the need for heightened privacy and safety for patients seeking reproductive health services?

I think in any health network or environment, we should all have the right to privacy. I think that it’s wrong that some of our leaders have put such powerful restrictions that not only intimidate people, but invade their right to privacy and choice. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Ceci Velasquez for State Representative, LD 29

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!

Ceci VelasquezA competitive House race is underway in Legislative District 29, a West Valley district that includes Glendale and West Phoenix. Four Democratic candidates are competing in next month’s primary election, and the two winners will go on to face Republican challenger Aaron Borders in the November general election. Mr. Borders proudly touts his opposition to abortion rights, so it will be important to support our endorsed candidates in November.

The Democratic candidates are preparing for the primary election, which will be held on August 26. Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed three candidates running for House in LD 29: Richard Andrade, Denice Garcia, and Ceci Velasquez. Below is an interview with Ceci Velasquez — check out our interviews with Richard Andrade and Denice Garcia as well!

Ms. Velasquez took the time for an interview on August 18, 2014.


“It is of a great importance to have sex ed classes in our schools.”


Tell us a little about your background.

I am a third-generation Arizona native. I grew up in the Central Phoenix and West Valley areas. I am proud of my roots and strong heritage and I am committed to serving my community. I am a mother to five wonderful kids.

My profession is within the legal field; I currently serve as a paralegal for an accomplished Phoenix attorney in the areas of family, dependency, and criminal law, with experience in bankruptcy and election law.

Prior to working in the private sector, I worked for the State of Arizona in the area of social services for more than 10 years. My tenure at the State of Arizona helped me cultivate my passion to serve my community in a greater way. I earned an associate’s degree and paralegal certificate from Phoenix College and I’m currently earning a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice with a minor in nonprofit leadership and management from Arizona State University.

Earlier this year, the state legislature passed HB 2284, the warrantless inspection bill, which permits the health department to inspect abortion clinics without a warrant. What do you think about the need for heightened privacy and safety for patients seeking reproductive health services?

I think safety and privacy is important. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Bruce Wheeler for State Representative, LD 10

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!

Bruce Wheeler HeadshotWhen we first interviewed Bruce Wheeler in 2012, he demonstrated his commitment to reproductive justice and access to family planning health care services. In 2014, he seeks to serve another term representing the the eastern Tucson region that is Legislative District 10.

In addition to a continued strong stance on reproductive justice, Mr. Wheeler has stressed issues such as public education and the problem of discrimination against the LGBTQ community as key issues in his campaign.

Mr. Wheeler took the time for an interview on August 4, 2014.


“Government and politicians have absolutely no right to dictate a woman’s most personal medical and health care decisions.”


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 more committed than ever because of critically important personal and policy issues at risk in Arizona. What has given me hope, in spite of horrible legislation proposed and passed, is that some of that horrible agenda has suffered setbacks due to public awareness and pressure, as well as a handful of significant successes by progressive legislators.

The passage of Medicaid expansion was transformative. We now have more than 330,000 Arizonans with health insurance who previously did not.

The defeat of SB 1062 was galvanizing not only for the majority of Arizonans, but nationally as well. The instant demand that this bill, which would have codified discrimination against our LBGT community, be vetoed succeeded in just that. 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

Tipping the Balance: Why Primary Elections Matter

Arizona state Senate“We will remember in November,” say activists vowing to effect change at the polls. General elections, held in November, are contests between the candidates nominated by their political parties and decided by voters. They are phenomenally important, as their outcomes determine who our presidents, senators, representatives, and other legislators will be.


Not all Democratic candidates support reproductive rights, so check our list of endorsed candidates before voting a Democratic ballot!


What rhymes with August? “You’ll eat sawdust in August”? “We want laws just in August”? I’ll work on that, but for now you should know that the primary elections will be held in Arizona on August 26, and many important races will be decided in August rather than November. How is that possible? Sometimes, only one political party has candidates running for an office, meaning that whoever wins their party’s nomination in the primary election won’t face opposition in November.

In three such races, all featuring Democrats running for the state Senate, reproductive rights are at stake. So, in case you were wondering why voting in the primary elections is so important, read on to learn about these crucial races! And tell your friends in these Phoenix-area legislative districts that the decisions they make at the polls have the potential to bring balance to our state legislature in terms of reproductive health care access. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: David Bradley for State Senator, LD 10

The Arizona primary election will be held on August 26, 2014, with early voting beginning 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!

10 Bradley, David_16Incumbent state Senator David Bradley, who Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona interviewed in 2012, is seeking once again to represent the interests of Legislative District 10 — an area that includes much of eastern Tucson and portions of central Tucson — in the Arizona legislature. During his most recent term, he has sponsored or co-sponsored a number of bills designed to reverse state-mandated barriers to abortion access and to provide accurate, accessible health care for Arizonans.

Mr. Bradley kindly took the time to participate in this interview on July 10, 2014.


“Medical decisions should be made based on science and not the philosophical positions of legislators.”


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?

Medicaid expansion and the creation of the new child welfare agency were both positive and hopeful accomplishments of this legislative term. The existence of a reasonable center in the legislature is also reason to be positive about the legislative session. Much, of course, rides on the governor’s race this year, with hope that a reasonable individual is elected.

Last legislative session, you voted against HB 2284, the warrantless inspection bill, 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?

I focus on the personal decisions that a woman makes, hopefully done in consultation with others, [which] should be done both with privacy and safety. Opponents to abortion are free to make their case in just about any forum they choose, but that should not include the clinics where those services are delivered. In the end, the final decision is for the woman making it, and that decision should be made without coercion or intimidation from anyone. Continue reading

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

The Arizona primary election will be held on August 26, 2014, with early voting beginning 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!

Stefanie_Mach_HeadshotStefanie Mach is the incumbent for Legislative District 10 state representative and running for re-election. Considered a swing district, LD 10 comprises the east side of the Tucson metropolitan area. It encompasses neighborhoods from Campbell Avenue to Tanque Verde Ranch and the Catalina Mountains to Valencia Road.

On July 14, 2014, Mach spoke via telephone with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona, and emphasized the need for accessible education programs and health care, including comprehensive sex education, to help ensure that everyone has access to both information and choices that promote quality of life.


“Making abortion illegal … does not … eliminate abortions. It just eliminates safe abortions.”


Tell us a little about your background.

I grew up as a military kid. My dad was in the Air Force until I was in high school, and he retired to his home state of Wisconsin. Then I ended up settling there for a while. I went to undergrad. I was the first in my family to get a college degree from a four-year university, and then I went on to get a master’s degree in public policy after working in nonprofits for several years.

So, I think I just kind of talked about why I was involved in service. I ended up, after undergrad, going into AmeriCorps. I served a year as a volunteer with them, and I was just involved in service.

And I think the other thing that played a part in developing who I was as a person – I had an accident when I was 17 where I was severely burned over 55 percent of my body. I had a lot of extensive hospital care, and so health care issues are pretty important to me because of it. And education is also personally important because of my own personal experiences. Continue reading