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: Mitzi Epstein for State Representative, LD 18

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!

mitziepstein-scaledMitzi Epstein is running for the Arizona House of Representatives in Legislative District 18. LD 18 includes all of Ahwatukee, parts of west Chandler, south Tempe, and west Mesa. Ms. Epstein is a small business owner, former state Parent Teacher Association leader, and American Youth Soccer Organization leader. As a community problem solver, she has spent her life working at both the community and state level to strengthen the economy.


“We need updated, comprehensive, medically accurate, and age-appropriate health and sex education curriculum that is inclusive of all.”


Ms. Epstein generously shared time with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona via telephone on September 9, 2016, to discuss her background and her campaign.

Tell us a little about your background.

Professionally, for many years I was a computer systems analyst and team leader for multinational corporations such as Olin Brass, Inc., Citicorp Mortgage Inc., and Aerovox Corporation. I now own my own small business called Custom Language Training. In 2004, I was elected to the Kyrene Elementary School District Governing Board where I served for four years.

Personally, I have been married for 33 years. We have lived in our home for 20 years now, and have two adult sons who live in Boston and New York. I am passionate about the community, working collaboratively to improve our quality of life. I have served on the boards of several community organizations including AYSO, American Youth Soccer Organization. To be the best coach I could be, I worked to earn a National D Coaching license from USSF. To be the best school board member I could be, I earned a Master of Boardsmanship from ASBA, the Arizona School Boards Association. 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 cropped scaledScott 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: Alex Martinez for State Representative, 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 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!

Alex Martinez 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. It is a beautiful section of the state, and given that it is a rural district, its constituents have different needs compared to their urban counterparts in metro Phoenix and Tucson. Alex Martinez, our endorsed candidate for the Arizona House of Representatives in LD 6, seeks to help meet those needs.


“We have a vested interest in women’s health care issues and providing family planning services.”


Alex Martinez, a fifth-generation southwest native, was born, raised, and educated in Arizona, where he earned a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, and an Ed.D. at the University of Arizona. Additionally, he is a Navy veteran, having served six years in the enlisted ranks and 30 years as an officer.

Martinez has been a public school teacher, principal, and superintendent, and his experiences in Arizona’s public schools give credence to his belief in the importance of sex education as a resource students need to ensure they have all the information needed to make healthy decisions. In an interview on July 25, 2016, Martinez told us he would like to “introduce legislation that provides funds to districts that provide sexuality education,” as well as to “provide funds to develop a statewide program so that there is uniformity with instruction.” Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Steve Farley for State Senator, 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 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!

farleypicSen. Steve Farley, who faces no opposition in either the primary or the November election, told us that he’s been spending much of his time “working to try to get a pro-choice majority elected in the Legislature,” no surprise for the pro-choice stalwart and father of two daughters whom Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed multiple times.

The 53-year-old artist and businessman has represented Legislative District 9 since 2012. Initially elected to the Arizona Legislature as State Representative from District 28 in 2006, Farley went on to become House Assistant Minority Leader. In the Senate, Farley serves as Assistant Minority Leader, and is the ranking Democrat on the Finance Committee. He also serves on the Appropriations, Financial Institutions, and Ethics Committees.


“All students are our future, no matter who they are or love.”


Recognizing Farley’s rising profile in the Legislature, the Arizona Republic named him one of 16 Arizonans to Watch in 2016. In a recent conversation, he noted with some surprise that readers and reporters of the Arizona Capitol Times voted him Best Arizona Democratic Elected Official in 2016.

“I didn’t expect it,” he told us, clearly pleased.

Sen. Farley has run a public art and graphic design business since 1991. He created the photographic tile murals around Tucson’s Broadway Underpass after he invented a process for converting photographs to glazed ceramic tile.

Sen. Farley was kind enough to take the time for a telephone interview on July 11, 2016.

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

The most important legislation that needs to be introduced would get rid of the bad legislation that’s been passed for eight years. They’ve been full speed ahead to attack women’s health. We need to restore the relationship between a doctor and that doctor’s patient. Don’t try to write scripts for them to read, or institute an abusive waiting period and make it as hard as possible for women in rural areas to access health care. Ensure that women have access to the full range of legal health services. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Cara Prior for State Representative, LD 16

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!

Cara Prior cropped scaledCara Prior is seeking a House seat in Arizona’s Legislative District 16, where her husband of 20 years, Scott Prior, is also running for state Senate. Legislative District 16 includes Apache Junction, East Mesa, Gold Canyon and the northern portion of San Tan Valley. Ms. Prior is an independent-minded Democrat who is running a grassroots, person-first campaign centered on progressive values. She believes personal freedom should not be jeopardized by corporations, non-democratic government regulation or religion. She and her husband have lived in Apache Junction for 17 years.


“The government does not belong in my health care decisions or my bedroom.”


Ms. Prior generously shared time with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona via Skype on July 8, 2016, to discuss her background and her campaign.

Tell us a little about your background.

I grew up in New England. Working in the semi-conductor and manufacturing industry, my husband Scott and I relocated to New Mexico as sub-contractors for Intel. We later moved to Arizona and bought a home. I currently work for Quantum Global Technology. The company cleans and refurbishes parts for manufacturing companies.

I have always followed politics but I became more actively involved in 2012 during the Occupy Movement. Scott and I were encouraged to become more involved. I began to think that maybe I could be that voice. There was nobody that I felt was representing me. Maybe if I stepped up to the plate, I could make my voice heard and be the voice for other people as well. Continue reading