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 general election will be held November 6, 2018 — and early voting began on October 10. Voters needed to have been registered by October 9 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!
[F]elicia French is easily the most overqualified newcomer to seek public office in Arizona this election cycle. Ms. French is a nurse, veteran, and parent, and is running for one of the two state House seats in the 6th legislative district. This sprawling district in northern Arizona spans the political spectrum from bright blue to deep red, 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 includes rural communities like Payson and mountain towns like Flagstaff.
“During an uncertain time at the federal level, state legislators have an important role to play in protecting human rights.”
Currently represented by politicians who consistently vote to gut public education, limit health care access, and exploit the environment, LD 6 is desperate for some small-d democratic representation. Unfortunately, those who oppose Planned Parenthood and the care we provide have been actively targeting Arizona values of liberty and equality for quite some time.
Luckily, Felicia French has had a strong campaign to ensure all those in the 6th legislative district have access to health care, quality education, and clean air and water. Ms. French generously took the time to tell us more about her background and her candidacy on October 3.
Please tell us a little about your background and why you’re running for office right now in this political climate.
I am a retired colonel who served in the U.S. Army and Arizona National Guard as a nurse, MedEvac helicopter pilot, Arizona state equal employment officer, and senior medical advisor in Afghanistan. I’m also a mother, an educator, a sustainability scientist, an activist with Sierra Club, and a volunteer with my local search and rescue, Civil Air Patrol, and Community Emergency Response Team. I’m running for office because I couldn’t stand to see the divisiveness in our country, my state, and my local community. After serving in the military for 32 years and watching my soldiers wounded and killed to defend our nation, I felt strongly that this is not what I served for, and that I needed to do something.
What will be your first action as an elected official in 2019?
My first action as an elected official will be to work across the aisle to secure sustainable funding for our public school system and protect our health care. I will ensure that access to quality education and health care is a right and not a privilege.
The uncertain future of the Supreme Court highlights the importance of protecting our rights at the state level. How can state legislators stem the tide of attacks on reproductive rights, for example by addressing so-called conscience clauses, targeted regulations, and access to family planning?
State legislators have an important role to play in protecting human rights during an uncertain time at the federal level. As a woman, a mother, a nurse, and a human, I will always fight for women’s rights in Arizona and everywhere. I will work on and vote for health care legislation that protects and improves access to family planning and protects reproductive rights. I will vote against, and draft legislation that prohibits, conscience clauses and targeted regulations. I will also be an extremely vocal advocate and champion for ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment in Arizona, which will help turn the tide of attacks on women’s rights now and in the future.
What can state legislators do not just to safeguard existing LGBTQ rights in Arizona, but to move them forward?
State legislators can fight for nondiscrimination laws that specifically protect LGBTQ people.
What other issues are you fighting for?
I am fighting for a more sustainable future in Arizona. I want to create government incentives to bring steady, quality jobs in the rapidly growing renewable energy sector to Arizona and to ensure that all of our economic policies protect our children’s resources for the future. I want to ensure that our soldiers and their families receive quality care for life, including health services and educational opportunities, and make sure that PTSD is properly treated before, and thoroughly followed up with after, soldiers are discharged from the military. I also intend to push for common-sense gun laws that require criminal background checks, waiting periods, and weapons training (whether you purchase a gun at a gun show or through a private owner).
What gives you hope for the future of Arizona?
The people I have met throughout my campaign give me hope for the future of Arizona. I have met people from all walks of life, of every age, gender, race, and sexual orientation, who has a story, and has the right to access quality education, health care, and job opportunities. The thing they all have in common is that they are fighting for their rights, for their voice to be heard; they have not given up hope, and neither have I.
What is the most significant thing you will do as an elected official to Stand With Planned Parenthood?
As an elected official, I will always fight to protect funding for Planned Parenthood so that they can continue to provide millions of people with nondiscriminatory health care services such as family planning, cancer screenings, STI testing and treatment, and clinical research.