The Arizona primary election will be held on August 28, 2012. With so many recent legislative challenges to reproductive health care access, both nationally and statewide, the importance of this election year 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 running a series called “Meet Our Candidates,” spotlighting each Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona-endorsed candidate. To vote in the primaries, you must register to vote by July 30 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2012!
This installment of “Meet Our Candidates” includes a July 6, 2012 interview with Lela Alston, a candidate for the Arizona House of Representatives in Legislative District 24, which encompasses portions of both Phoenix and Scottsdale.
“We need to…assure that there is health care available and that it is accessible for people of all incomes.”
Alston has previous legislative experience, serving in the Arizona State Senate between 1977 and 1994. A graduate of the University of Arizona, she describes herself has having been “a school teacher since forever,” which included years in both Tucson-area middle schools and in the Phoenix Union High School District. Alston remained a teacher as she served her terms in the State Senate, teaching during the first semester and taking a leave to serve in the legislative term each January. After retiring from teaching, some of her teacher friends asked Alston if she would run for the district’s school board. “It was at that point in time,” Alston said, “that I realized with more clarity how education and basic human services were being destroyed or hampered or cut back by the legislature.”
When two seats in her legislative district opened up two years ago, Alston considered herself “lucky” to be running along with Katie Hobbs, who was then running for a seat in the State Senate. The two are now seeking second terms, along with Chad Campbell, in the new Legislative District 24. Alston considers both Hobbs and Campbell to be her “running mates.” The team is facing both same-party opposition in the primary as well as opposition from other political parties in November’s general election.
Asked what type of women’s health care issues she’d like to see addressed in the legislature, Alston replied, “For both women and children, we need to do as much as we possibly can to assure that there is health care available and that it is accessible for people of all incomes. To me, health care is as basic as food on the table.” If women — including mothers — and children aren’t healthy, she continued, “that takes a toll on the whole economic and social fiber of the family. We need to make sure there are Pap smears available, mammograms available, and all the things that are considered basics for women’s health care.”
For younger people, Alston supports comprehensive sex education, with a parental opportunity to opt out, in Arizona schools. She explained that not all parents “talk to their teenagers, or even pre-teenagers, about sexual activity.” It’s important to Alston that students “get true, reliable information so they can make wise choices” because those choices “can affect their well being for the rest of their lives.”
Alston disagrees with some of the bills limiting women’s access to health care that the Arizona legislature passed during its most recent term. “There were some very bad things that were considered and passed in the last legislative session, and I hope that those could be reversed. I think we have to realize with the very conservative legislature that we have, we have to be really vigilant and watching.” When it came to watching the legislature last term, Alston added, “I think Planned Parenthood was excellent.”
Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona’s endorsement of Alston is in line with Alston’s own views on both health care access and access to solid health information. “I believe in all the things Planned Parenthood believes and supports,” she affirmed. “That includes available contraception; that includes positive health care outcomes. I think I’m 100 percent in support of Planned Parenthood’s goals and objectives. And it’s important for me that the people who vote for me know that — that these are my values, that they’re important for all of us.”
You can learn more about Lela Alston or donate to her campaign by visiting her website at LelaAlstonAZ.com. Alston is running to represent Legislative District 24 in the Phoenix and Scottsdale areas. If, due recent redistricting or other reasons, you’re not sure which legislative district you’re in, you can click here to find out. And regardless of which Arizona legislative district you’re in, you can contact us to volunteer for an endorsed candidate in your district.