Meet Our Candidates: Andrea Dalessandro for State Representative, LD 2

Portrait of Andrea Dalessandro, candidate for state house. The Arizona general election will be held on November 6, 2012, with early voting starting on October 11. After the many recent legislative challenges to reproductive health care access, both nationally and statewide, the importance of voting in November can’t be overstated. To help voters, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive health and freedom. Along with those endorsements, we are spotlighting our endorsed candidates in a series called “Meet Our Candidates.” To vote in the general election, you must register to vote by midnight tonight (October 9) — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2012!

“I moved to Arizona to retire,” Andrea Dalessandro said in a recent telephone interview with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona. But when the former teacher saw the legislature cutting funding from public education — first from English language learners in Nogales, then from everyone — it inspired her to take action. She ran for the Arizona House of Representatives in both 2008 and 2010, in what was then Legislative District 30. With the recent redistricting, what’s changed is Dalessandro’s district number; she now seeks to represent LD 2, an area that includes much of southern Tucson, Sahuarita, Green Valley, and all of Santa Cruz County. What hasn’t changed is Dalessandro’s commitment to representing the people she cares about.

Andrea Dalessandro was kind enough to take the time for an interview on October 2, 2012.


“I’m tired of the war on women.”


Having lived here since 2004, Dalessandro considers herself a “naturalized Arizonan.” She is also a retired math teacher and certified public accountant. She had a tax practice for a number of years that she closed in 2006 to prepare to run for office.

Of her family, Dalessandro is married to a disabled Vietnam veteran. Moreover, she said, “I’m a mother — and a grandmother of five.”

When asked about the bad bills introduced in the legislature during the last session — the ones that negatively affected access to birth control and abortion as well as funding for family planning — Dalessandro responded that she didn’t know when politicians had declared a right to get involved with a woman’s personal medical decisions. She said, “They don’t have any right to talk to me about a mammogram or cancer treatment,” and similarly felt that other areas of reproductive and sexual health care were “a personal issue, a private issue … I don’t know how politicians got caught up with it.” Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Pat Fleming for State Senator, LD 14

The Arizona general election will be held on November 6, 2012, with early voting starting on October 11. After the many recent legislative challenges to reproductive health care access, both nationally and statewide, the importance of voting in November can’t be overstated. To help voters, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive health and freedom. Along with those endorsements, we are spotlighting our endorsed candidates in a series called “Meet Our Candidates.” To vote in the general election, you must register to vote by October 9 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2012!

Pat Fleming has lived in Arizona for four decades, with roots going back to Missouri, where she was born near her grandparents’ farm. Her military ties brought her to Sierra Vista, where she continues to live — and seeks to serve.


“A licensed pharmacist is licensed to dispense prescriptions, not determine morality.”


Fleming supports access to preventive health care and education. “Protecting women’s access to contraception is critical,” she has stated. Elaborating upon her positions in an exclusive interview with us, she indicated support for comprehensive sex education because of its role in the “prevention of unwanted and unplanned pregnancies.” As a member of the state Senate, Fleming will stand for commonsense values such as comprehensive sex education, health care access, and family planning. She will also represent the needs of her rural constituents, whose access to health care is limited.

Fleming is seeking office in the newly drawn Legislative District 14, which stretches from east Pima County into rural areas of the state, including Cochise and Greenlee counties, as well as most of Graham County. She generously took time for an interview with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona on October 1, 2012.

Tell us a little about your background.

I have been proud to call southeastern Arizona home for 43 years. After retiring from Ft. Huachuca in 2005, I ran my first campaign for the Arizona House of Representatives from LD 25, losing by only 764 votes. In 2008, I ran again and handily won a seat in the Arizona House of Representatives. I was honored to have served one term representing the good people of the former Legislative District 25, however, I lost my bid for re-election in 2010.

I live south of Sierra Vista with my husband Bob Fleming. We have been married almost 11 years, and have a combined family that includes five children and 12 grandchildren. I have remained a participating and involved civilian representative and continue community activism as I run for the Arizona Senate from the new LD 14.

In the previous legislative session, there were a lot of bad bills that negatively affected access to birth control (HB2625), funding for family planning (HB2800), abortion (HB2036), and unbiased information about unintended pregnancies in public schools (SB1009). What kind of beneficial legislation would you like to see introduced, and why do you think it’s important to fight for it?

If elected, I will work to reverse these radical, ideologically based laws. I will work to include easier access to contraceptive medications and devices as part of a woman’s health care options. Government bureaucrats should never be in charge of personal health care choices. However, without major changes in the demographics or partisan elected officials, in both the Arizona Senate and Arizona House, none of this is going to happen. Continue reading

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

The Arizona general election will be held on November 6, 2012, with early voting starting on October 11. After the many recent legislative challenges to reproductive health care access, both nationally and statewide, the importance of voting in November can’t be overstated. To help voters, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive health and freedom. Along with those endorsements, we are spotlighting our endorsed candidates in a series called “Meet Our Candidates.” To vote in the general election, you must register to vote by October 9 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2012!

As a facilities engineer for a Phoenix-based company, Scott Prior has to be a problem-solver, and as a candidate for state senator, he wants to put his problem-solving to use in Arizona politics. Prior took time for an interview with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona, and in that interview, he touched on some of the problems this state faces: a high teen birth rate, biased and inadequate sex education in our schools, legislation that interferes with private decisions between doctors and patients, and a religious agenda that stands in the way of a woman’s right to choose.


“Arizona has … the sixth highest teen birth rate in America. All of the top 6 states have one thing in common: abstinence-only sex education.”


Prior’s campaign platform includes positive positions on many of the issues that matter to Planned Parenthood supporters. He opposes mandatory transvaginal ultrasounds before abortions, supports inclusion of reproductive health insurance in company insurance plans, and supports same-sex marriage and equal benefits for same-sex couples.

Prior seeks to represent Legislative District 16, a district in Pinal and Maricopa counties that includes Apache Junction and Gold Canyon, as well as parts of San Tan Valley and Mesa. His interview with PPAA took place on September 26, 2012.

Please tell us a little about your background.

I am a facilities engineer for a company located in Phoenix. I was raised in a military family, and was taught at a young age self-reliance, responsibility, and respect for others, regardless of our differences. Most of my school years were spent in the Panhandle of Texas, where I graduated valedictorian of my high school class in 1986. I continued my education at West Texas State University (now West Texas A&M), and spent two years working professionally in California. After moving to New Mexico, I began working at the Intel Corporation facility in Rio Rancho. Since then, I have worked on Intel facilities in New Mexico, Arizona, Oregon, and California. My wife and I finally settled down in Apache Junction in 1998, where we have been ever since. Much of what I have done over the years involves solving problems, which requires logic, not personal beliefs. I believe that this is an advantage to me, and hope that if I’m elected, I can bring that type of problem solving to the state capitol.

In the previous legislative session, there were a lot of bad bills that negatively affected access to birth control (HB2625), funding for family planning (HB2800), abortion (HB2036), and unbiased information about unintended pregnancies in public schools (SB1009). What kind of beneficial legislation would you like to see introduced, and why do you think it’s important to fight for it?

First, I would like to see all of those bills repealed. Those bills are specifically to push a specific religious agenda, even though abortion was legalized by Roe v. Wade. It is a right for a woman to make her own choices, without government or religious interference. I would like to support legislation that will continue to allow organizations such as Planned Parenthood to continue their work. I would also support repealing legislation that allows doctors to refuse giving accurate information that might affect a woman’s right to choose. I think that government should spend more time governing and less time interfering with the private lives of its citizens. I would support an amendment to the Arizona Constitution preventing this type of legislation. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Jo Holt for State Senator, LD 11

The Arizona general election will be held on November 6, 2012, with early voting starting on October 11. After the many recent legislative challenges to reproductive health care access, both nationally and statewide, the importance of voting in November can’t be overstated. To help voters, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive health and freedom. Along with those endorsements, we are spotlighting our endorsed candidates in a series called “Meet Our Candidates.” To vote in the general election, you must register to vote by October 9 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2012!

Jo Holt is running for an Arizona Senate seat in the new Legislative District 11, which covers the northwestern parts of Pima County and western parts of Pinal County. This area includes Oro Valley, Marana, Avra Valley, Arizona City, Ak-Chin, Maricopa, SaddleBrooke, and Catalina, as well as many other cities and towns. On her website, Holt states, “Arizona is worth fighting for, and I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and work for the best interest of all the people of Arizona.” It’s also very clear that she believes the women of Arizona are worth fighting for as well, and that Holt will be willing to roll up her sleeves to protect women’s rights to health care.

What follows is an exclusive interview conducted with Holt on September 26, 2012.


“The right of women to determine their reproductive choices … is being undermined here in Arizona with the most restrictive laws in the nation.”


Tell us a little about your background.

I am a retired research scientist, and this is my first time to run for public office. Part of my career was spent at the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Arizona in the 1980s. My son James was born at Tucson Medical Center. My career took me to the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, where I spent about 15 years. I retired early to take care of my husband, who passed away last year after a long battle with early-onset Alzheimer’s. So, my background is split between being a mom, a research scientist, and a caregiver.

From 2010 through 2012, your opponent Al Melvin has supported 13 bills (and sponsored many of them) that sought to regulate and stigmatize abortion care out of existence, defund Planned Parenthood, and harass patients and staff of Planned Parenthood and other women’s health care providers. For example, in the previous legislative session, there were many bad bills that negatively affected access to birth control (HB2625), funding for family planning (HB2800), abortion (HB2036), and unbiased information in schools about unintended pregnancies (SB1009). What kind of beneficial legislation would you like to see introduced, and why do you think it’s important to fight for it?

According to the laws of this country, a woman can legally choose to end her pregnancy. A state bill that reaffirms this right, and removes government restrictions on a woman’s ability to control her own reproductive cycle, should be introduced.  Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: David Butler for State Representative, LD 25

The Arizona general election will be held on November 6, 2012, with early voting starting on October 11. After the many recent legislative challenges to reproductive health care access, both nationally and statewide, the importance of voting in November can’t be overstated. To help voters, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive health and freedom. Along with those endorsements, we are spotlighting our endorsed candidates in a series called “Meet Our Candidates.” To vote in the general election, you must register to vote by October 9 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2012!

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, David Butler came to Arizona in 1993 with a degree in political science from Ohio State University and an interest in politics that has spurred his involvement in many campaigns. Earlier this year Butler launched his own campaign, seeking to represent Legislative District 25 in the House of Representatives. Located in Maricopa County, LD 25 includes much of Mesa, where Butler lives with his wife Vivian.


“A woman, not politicians, should make the informed decisions when it comes to her own reproductive rights.”


Because of his positions on women’s health and choice issues, Butler has received an endorsement from Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona. He generously took the time for an interview with PPAA on September 26, 2012.

Please tell us a little about yourself.

I was born in Cleveland, Ohio into a typical middle class family. I graduated from the Ohio State University with a B.A. degree. I majored in political science. I moved to Arizona in 1993. I met Vivian and we were married in 2000. Between us we have four grown children and nine grandchildren. I am a self-employed wholesale distributor and sell products to local grocery chains.

You’re running against Rep. Justin Olson, who sponsored HB2800, which Planned Parenthood called a bill that “attempts to prevent Planned Parenthood from providing services to AHCCCS and Title X patients and prohibits any governmental entity from entering into a contract with or making a grant for family planning to any organization that performs abortions.” How would you respond to Olson’s involvement with this bill?

I would respond to Rep. Olson’s involvement in HB2800 by stating that the bill is an invasion of women’s reproductive rights. I believe that it is wrong to prevent Medicaid-eligible women from seeking routine preventive services, even from providers that also offer abortions. A woman, not politicians, should make the informed decisions when it comes to her own reproductive rights. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Ed Ableser for State Senator, LD 26

The Arizona general election will be held on November 6, 2012, with early voting starting on October 11. After the many recent legislative challenges to reproductive health care access, both nationally and statewide, the importance of voting in November can’t be overstated. To help voters, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who have shown strong commitment to reproductive health and freedom. Along with those endorsements, we are spotlighting our endorsed candidates in a series called “Meet Our Candidates.” To vote in the general election, you must register to vote by October 9 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2012!

Ed Ableser is running for an Arizona State Senate seat in the new Legislative District 26, which covers Tempe, Mesa, Phoenix, and the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. He has served as a state senator and is the current state representative from Legislative District 17. Ableser received his bachelor’s degree in political science and Chinese, as well as his master’s degree in counseling, from Arizona State University. He is now working to complete his Ph.D. in justice and social inquiry and is a mental-health counselor in the public school system. He also owns a business and works as a counselor for Ableser Family Counseling.


“This election is an important one for women’s access to reproductive health care. The fair and equal treatment of women is at stake.”


Because Ableser has spent his career serving low-income families and helping them deal with the difficult issues they face on a day-to-day basis, he believes his experience has given him “the opportunity to see what their problems are and the insight into how my constituents can be helped at the state capitol.”

In the previous legislative session, there were many bad bills that negatively affected access to birth control, funding for family planning, abortion, and unbiased information about unintended pregnancies in public schools. When asked what legislation he would like to see introduced, he said he would like to make sure the Affordable Healthcare Act gets enacted. Ableser noted that “there are hundreds of people waiting to have the basic safety net of insurance. There are too many people on the edge of bankruptcy because of the cost of medical care.”

Next, he would like to continue work on legislation to provide resources for parents who need to come to schools for parent/teacher conferences. “Some employers have fired employees for taking time off to go to their children’s school,” he said, and he would like these employees to have protection. Continue reading

Pro-Choice Friday News Rundown

  • News that should surprise no one: Abortions in Arizona are up 25 percent this year. Thank you, Jan Brewer and our craptastic legislators. (AZ Daily Sun)
  • Oh, but the Center for Arizona Policy (aka big time anti-choice lobby) disagrees with these facts. (East Valley Tribune)
  • Women are befuddled about birth control and I can’t help but wonder why. It’s not like our education system focuses mostly on only teaching abstinence, or that most parents don’t take the time to talk about sex and reproductive health with their children! #Sarcasm (Toronto Sun)
  • Speaking of parents failing their children with regard to sex ed … (Think Progress)
  • Dear anti-choicers: All of the roadblocks you put in front of women seeking abortions — mandatory ultrasounds, various arbitrary waiting periods, forcing them to listen to propaganda prior to having an abortion — ultimately have no effect on abortion rates. Know why? Because they don’t get to the core of why women have abortions. These obstacles are rooted in the false assumption that women are ignorant and not fully capable of making proper decisions about their bodies, and thus need to be educated about abortion. Because none of those things is true, your tactics, predictably, are failing to do what you intended them to do — reduce abortions. Feel free to try again, but only with tactics that are considerably less stupid. For instance, access to affordable contraception and comprehensive sex ed. That’d be a good start! (Salon)
  • Ann Romney does not wish to discuss serious world issues like birth control or same-sex marriage because those topics are not what this election is about. She’d much rather talk about what kind of husband and father Mitt is. After all, that’s what is on the minds of Americans. Is Mitt a nice dad? Is he good to his wife? Then obviously he’s qualified to lead the nation and serve as commander in chief. Duh. She also says those issues distract from the real issues: jobs and the economy. (WaPo)
  • Uh, Earth to Ann: Birth control is an economic issue. A woman’s ability to control her own fertility will be the most important factor in dictating her professional and socio-economic status. (Jezebel)
  • “Forcible rape” language is still all the rage among the anti-choice crowd. This time it’s New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, who proposes the state needs proof of “forcible rape” in applications for child care assistance. I wish this were some kind of a joke. (RH Reality Check)