The time to fight back — and fight forward — for reproductive justice is fast approaching. The stakes are high in this year’s state election, with candidates for governor, secretary of state, attorney general, and other races on the ballot. The Arizona primary election will be held August 28, 2018, and early voting began on August 2. Voters need to have been registered by July 30 to cast their ballots. Reproductive health has been under attack, both nationally and statewide, but Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona has endorsed candidates who put our health and our rights first. Get to know them now in our series of “Meet Our Candidates” interviews, and make your voice heard in 2018!
A wealth of experience has brought Hazel Chandler to her current bid for the Arizona Legislature. A 40-year resident of Arizona, she is a longtime advocate for public education and social justice whose career spans decades in the government, nonprofit, and private sectors.
For Ms. Chandler, though, the focus is not on what’s behind her but on what’s ahead. Ms. Chandler holds degrees in early childhood development and management, and with those in her toolbox, she has spent much of her career working for the next generations of Arizonans. For eight years she served as the regional director of First Things First, an agency in Phoenix that promotes early childhood education and other measures to ensure the success and wellbeing of Arizona’s children. Along with school funding, Ms. Chandler has been an outspoken supporter of funding KidsCare and other programs to ensure that children’s health care needs are being met, regardless of household income. As she told the Arizona-based Children’s Action Alliance, “Providing children with health care needs to be a priority for our state.”
“It is our moral responsibility to make sure that everyone has access to affordable, quality health care, including reproductive care for women.”
Ms. Chandler’s focus on the future also means a commitment to a clean environment. As she states on her campaign website, environmental protection “isn’t just an issue, it is the entire context in which we have to make all our public policy decisions.” For her, creating a sustainable future is about conserving resources to meet long-term economic needs — as well as protecting people from the health effects of pollution and climate change.
In fact, much of Ms. Chandler’s platform — from her views on preventing crime to getting big money out of politics — circles back in some way to public health. Within that comprehensive view of health, she is also committed to reproductive justice. That conviction has helped garner the endorsements of Arizona List, the Arizona NOW Political Action Committee, and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona.
Ms. Chandler seeks to represent Legislative District 20, which includes Northwest Phoenix. She took the time on August 13, 2018, to tell us more about her background and her candidacy for the Arizona House of Representatives.
Please tell us a little about your background.
I am not a politician; I am a grandmother who is very concerned about the future. I entered the workforce, as a manager, at the beginning of the women’s rights movement. I spent my life advocating for the rights of children, women, and minorities. I worked to make changes that would bring equal rights for all Arizonans. We have made much progress as women to take our place in society as equal partners, but we still have a long ways to go. I am deeply troubled that young girls entering the workforce today still do not have equal rights and equal pay. We still see policies throughout our system that discriminate against women, minorities, and LBGT communities in all aspects of life.
The residents of LD 20 need a strong woman’s voice with a track record of collaborative leadership to represent the needs of women, our children, and families.
It has never been more critical to elect fresh leadership that will put our children and future generations first in our decision-making process on critical issues.
As a certified public manager, I bring extensive work experience in early childhood education, health care, environmental justice, and behavioral health. I have come to realize that the greatest challenges we face in Arizona are human issues, not partisan issues. When we work together and find common ground, we find solutions that work for all of us. As your representative, I will evaluate all legislation based on three standards: Is this good for my district? Are we getting to the root of the issue? How will this decision impact future generations?
I will be a strong voice for teachers and children to build a well-funded public education system that allows all children to be ready to succeed in life. I will work to build a strong, sustainable economy, giving children clean air, water, and food. I believe that it is our moral responsibility to make sure that everyone has access to affordable health care. Together we will build a strong Arizona that works for all of us.
What kind of beneficial legislation would you like to introduce should you be elected?
We must finally ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. Women are 51 percent of our population, but still do not have equal rights, especially with equal pay and equality in health care.
We must have comprehensive education reform that includes a permanent funding source for public schools.
Why do you think it’s important that people make their own health care decisions?
I believe it is our moral responsibility to make sure that everyone has access to affordable, quality health care, including reproductive care for women. When we focus on health care as opposed to just disease care, we implement cost-effective, prevention-oriented health care programs shown to prevent disease, promote health, and save money in the best possible way — by keeping people healthy. Every person deserves to have access to quality health care and to have choices in how best to meet their health care needs. When we develop partnerships between patients, health care providers, and insurance companies, we have opportunities to control the runaway costs of health care. We must end the divisive dialogue around health care and come together in a bipartisan way to find real solutions. I believe that women should have the right to make choices with the assistance of their doctor regarding reproductive health care. I do not think that the state should restrict this right of women.
Your Republican opponents, Shawnna Bolick and Anthony Kern, told the Center for Arizona Policy that they support conversion therapy and oppose anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ individuals. What are your thoughts about these policies, and what is your vision for a more LGBTQ-inclusive Arizona?
I believe that every citizen should have equal rights and respect. I deeply believe that our state is strongest when people come together, listen to each other, and respect our differences. Our LGBTQ brothers and sisters deserve the same equal rights and respect as the rest of us. I would support strong legislative protections for the LGBTQ community. I strongly oppose conversion therapy or any other efforts to change the LGBTQ community. I will listen to community members and community organizations to learn and understand the needs of the community and will apply changes to current policies when I’m elected. Every person deserves to live free of discrimination.
What other issues are you fighting for?
Fully funding public education to provide safe, supportive educational environments that develop the student’s full potential. Developing a clean energy economy that addresses our children’s right to a livable future with clean air, water, and safe food supplies. Access to affordable health care. Creating an Arizona that works for all of us, free from discrimination, where we all have our basic needs met. Keeping our children safe through common-sense gun laws. Getting big money out of politics.
What gives you hope for Arizona’s future?
Never before have we had so many talented people come together and stand for our rights as citizens of the U.S. We have seen this in the March for Our Lives, #RedForEd, Climate Marches, immigration, and other community activism. I see a new group of talented leaders (mostly women) run for elective office. Everywhere I turn I see dialogue about how we create a society that works for all of us. We must keep this dialogue and activism going, as it will bring the change that we all yearn to have.
Why was it important for you to be endorsed by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona?
I have my life committed to women’s rights and the right to have quality health care including reproductive care. Planned Parenthood has been a critical community resource for reproductive care for as long as I can remember. For many women, including my daughter, Planned Parenthood has been a source of health care when other options were not affordable. I am proud to have the Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona endorsement, and I will continue to fight for women’s health care if elected.