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: Jo Holt for State Senator, LD 11

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!

Jo HoltArizona’s Legislative District 11 covers northwest Pima County, including Marana, Oro Valley, and Catalina, and parts of Pinal County, including SaddleBrooke, Casa Grande, and the town of Maricopa. Jo Holt, who is running for the Arizona Senate, lives in Oro Valley.

Dr. Holt is a retired research scientist with a background in biochemistry. More recently, she has been involved in Arizona politics; she previously ran for state Senate in 2012, when she was also endorsed by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona. You can read the interview we conducted with her then to learn more about her background, as well as her positions on conscience clauses and sex education.

She was kind enough to answer some questions for me this year as well, on July 31.


“I believe in an America that lends a helping hand, not one that punishes at taxpayer expense.”


It’s great to talk to you again! How has your desire to serve 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?

Thank you, Rachel. I am still very much committed to making a difference in the lives of the people of Arizona, and to becoming an effective advocate for those who live in my legislative district. The extension of Medicaid, the successful petition drive against the voter repression bill, and Gov. Brewer’s veto of the “religious liberty” bill all give me hope that the public is getting increasingly fed up with our state legislative majority. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Janie Hydrick for State Senator, LD 18

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!

1 Internet Headshot 120510_WC-7333-Edit-Edit_X2_72dpi (1)Along with her extensive experience in education, Dr. Janie Hydrick, whom Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona also interviewed in 2012, has deep roots in her community. She has lived in Legislative District 18 — an area that includes Ahwatukee, as well as portions of Tempe and Chandler — for the past 22 years. She currently lives there with three generations of her family: her husband, her daughter and son-in-law, and her grandson. Dr. Hydrick seeks to represent the 18th legislative district in the Arizona Senate in order to foster economic development, support education, advance access to affordable health care, and protect vulnerable community members.

She graciously took the time for an interview on July 13, 2014.


“… Ignorance and fear rather than information and understanding have driven too many of our policies.”


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?

On a national policy level, I have seen polls and demonstrations increasingly in favor of women’s rights to reproductive freedom. As a candidate at the legislative district level, I have seen a groundswell of support for women’s rights and increased outrage with people who pronounce their marginalization and denigration of women. Politicians who are out of sync with the majority of Americans will see their misogynistic policies and platforms fail them in 2014 and 2016.

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?

HB 2284 is a blatant violation of women’s privacy and safety with no purpose other than to legislate anti-abortion beliefs through intimidation. When the U.S. Supreme Court struck down abortion clinic buffer zones in Massachusetts, they violated women’s privacy and safety by providing free rein to anti-choice violence, harassment, and interference with patient access. The U.S. Supreme Court’s egregious Hobby Lobby decision violated women’s privacy and safety by leaving women’s reproductive rights and choices to the vagaries of their employer’s religious beliefs. Women have rights to reproductive health choices as men do, and their choices should be protected by privacy and safety, as men’s are. Continue reading