Meet Our Candidates: Lela Alston for Phoenix Union High School District Governing Board

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 have been registered to vote by October 10. Make your voice heard in 2016!

Phoenix Union High School District governing board candidate Lela Alston is back and at it again. A longtime school teacher and current member of the House of Representatives, Ms. Alston is running for reelection to the governing board of the Phoenix Union High School District. Ms. Alston’s impressive track record of public service reflects her commitment to Arizona’s children and families, for whom she is striving to build a better future. As a school board member, Ms. Alston will continue to advocate for comprehensive sexuality education programs, fight for adequate funding, and celebrate inclusivity and diversity.


“Our students will be healthier in their current lives and in their future lives if they have full knowledge of important subjects such as contraception and HIV/AIDS.”


Ms. Alston participated in our “Meet Our Candidates” series in 2012 and 2014 as a candidate for the House of Representatives, and on October 10, 2016, she graciously agreed to a telephone interview in which she discussed her candidacy for PUHSD school board.

Tell us a little about your background and why it’s important to you to be involved with education in your community.

I am a retired teacher from PUHSD, and I was asked to run by my colleagues when they felt the board was not supportive of students, faculty, and other employees. I have long been involved in the political world, and I have always had education, children, and families at the top of my agenda. I served in the state Senate from 1977 to 1995, and in 1994 I ran for State School Superintendent and lost to Lisa Graham Keegan. After that, I went back to teaching school full time. I retired 10 years ago, and eight years ago there was an opening on the school board for which I was asked to run. I am now running for my third term on the school board and I have in the meantime gone back to serving my legislative district in the state House. This year I will be starting my seventh year in the House, so I will be term-limited from the House after this next two years.

As a teacher I taught home-economics, and my master’s is in child development and human relations, so the issues of education, family, and children just kind of naturally fit with the issues I have championed all my adult life. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Ken Clark for State Representative, LD 24

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 must register to vote by August 1 — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2016!

Our candidate interviews usually focus on Planned Parenthood’s core concerns, like reproductive health, sex education, and reproductive choice. This interview is an exception. Rep. Clark was interviewed in 2014 on these issues, and has been an ally during his term in the House, where he represents Central Phoenix’s Legislative District 24.


“There are enough people in this state that if 5,000 people collected one petition, we’d get this done.”


Recently, however, he has been instrumental in trying to repeal a law passed at the end of this session, SB 1516, that makes it easier for dark money to influence our elections. Dark money is money used by groups like nonprofit organizations, corporations, or labor unions for political purposes. At issue is whether and how such groups have to reveal the sources of their funds. Instead of writing a separate piece on dark money, we decided to use today’s installment of our Meet Our Candidates series to shine a light on the issue. Planned Parenthood believes in the importance of fair and clean elections that accurately represent the will of the people.

You can learn more about dark money at Stop Corruption Now. Rep. Clark generously took the time to answer our questions via telephone on July 5, 2016.

When I moved to Arizona 20 years ago, I was impressed with the way elections here were run, especially that candidates could use public monies to finance their campaigns, for a more equal playing field. So I’ve been very disturbed by attacks on the system in recent years, including SB 1516, which was passed at the end of this legislative session and signed into law without much discussion. Can you tell us what this law does that is so damaging to our elections?

Senate Bill 1516 completely wipes out our previous campaign finance statute, and replaces it with something that will allow people to hide money in our political system, and in doing so, threaten politicians and blackmail them to get them to do what they want. So it’s an unprecedented change, and it doesn’t matter what issue you care the most about — if this law stays in place, your issue will be affected, because you will no longer have a Legislature that acts based on the merits of the law; with this law in place, it will act based on who has the most money and who is threatening whom. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Lela Alston for State Representative, LD 24

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 MIDNIGHT TONIGHT — and can even register online. Make your voice heard in 2014!

When we first interviewed Rep. Lela Alston two years ago, she’d made both reproductive justice and educational reform key issues of her campaign. Now, as she seeks her third term in office, representing the part of Phoenix that is Legislative District 24, her commitment to those issues has not wavered.

Ms. Alston was gracious enough to take the time for a telephone interview, transcribed below, on July 23, 2014.


“It’s wrong for lawmakers to be making medical decisions for people that they don’t even know.”


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?

Well, I think what’s happened over the last couple of years is a breakthrough in the relationships between and across party lines. I spent some time in the Senate, way back when, and now I’ve served four years in the House. My first term, back in 2010, was very partisan in nature; there was not much working across the aisle. And, what has happened in the last two years, because of the issues that have come up and the circumstances, there has been a lot of bipartisan interaction and results. For example, we got the expansion of Medicaid passed; we killed bad bills like [SB] 1062. So all of those are hopeful signs to me.

That does strengthen my convictions about participation by individuals in the process. I see more people stepping up, being involved. When I see this, it’s not hopeless.

Last legislative session, you voted against HB 2284, which now permits the health department to inspect abortion clinics without a warrant. How do you explain to constituents the unique nature of abortion care and the need for heightened privacy and safety for patients?

I think that’s very easily explained, due to the past behavior of those people who opposed an individual’s right to choose. By that, I mean their behavior in the past has been to picket medical facilities, harass women who are perhaps alone or nearly alone, going in for advice or procedures or whatever. The harassment has been horrible.  Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Rich Bauer for State Representative, LD 24

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!

Rich Bauer has spent his entire life involved with the area that makes up Legislative District 24, which encompasses portions of both Phoenix and Scottsdale. Because of this, he feels a deep commitment to the place he calls home and the people within it, which is why he seeks to represent those people in the Arizona House of Representatives.

Mr. Bauer took the time for this telephone interview (transcribed below) on July 11, 2014, to discuss his positions on some issues most relevant to Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona.


“I can promise you that I’ll have your backs.”


Tell us a little about your background.

I was born and raised in Central Phoenix, District 24. I raised my children in Central Phoenix. I was raised by a small businessman; he owned a chain of optical stores. And I’m married to a woman who is a small business owner. I spent my entire adult life with the Phoenix Fire Department; I just retired a couple months ago. I retired as a captain.

On my days off from working a 56-hour work week on a fire truck, I was director of community programs for Phoenix Fire Fighter Charities, where in the past 10 years, I was able to raise $12 million to put back in the community without using a nickel of taxpayers’ dollars.

One of the biggest accomplishments is that I took the highest ZIP code for drowning in the nation — we spec’d every pool in that ZIP code through contributions. We brought that drowning rate to zero, and it remains at zero today.

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 they should notify every organization before they do an inspection when that organization involves medical care, because of HIPAA laws, privacy, and that person’s care. I think it [HB 2284] was a deliberate bill to go overboard, to do nothing but harass Planned Parenthood. And I truly believe that they’ll win their day in court. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Ken Clark for State Representative, LD 24

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!

A longtime Arizona resident with previous legislative experience, Ken Clark seeks to represent Legislative District 24, located in Central Phoenix, in the Arizona House of Representatives. In addition to receiving Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona’s endorsement, Mr. Clark has made economic development, sustainability, and LGBTQ rights prominent issues in his campaign.

Mr. Clark graciously took the time for an interview on July 16, 2014.


“The constant and intentional confusion about science in order to win a political or moral debate is reprehensible.”


Tell us a little about your background.

I moved to Arizona in 1982, as an Air Force dependent. As a child in Southern Arizona, I learned to value the natural beauty of the state, as well as the need to protect the environment.

We moved to Germany in 1985, where I attended high school, followed by my undergraduate studies at Northern Arizona University. I completed my master’s degree at the American University in Washington, D.C., and I spent about two years after that in Sarajevo, where I produced radio programming all over Bosnia.

I returned to Arizona in 1998 and pledged to stay here, where I could work for positive change.

I ran for office and won in 2002, and served in the legislature for one term.

I chose not to run again in 2004, and was asked by Gov. Napolitano to direct the State Energy Office.

After directing that office for about a year and a half, I worked on several political campaigns. I reported to Kyrsten Sinema as the manager of the 2006 Arizona Together campaign [which successfully opposed an anti-marriage equality ballot initiative].  Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Katie Hobbs for State Senator, LD 24

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!

Katie Hobbs is currently a representative for Legislative District 15 in Phoenix, and a candidate for state senator in Arizona’s new LD 24. Hobbs established herself as a leader during her first term in the state legislature. She has been very vocal about women’s health care issues and sex education. She is a lifelong resident of Phoenix, and we’re very proud to endorse her. What follows is an exclusive interview conducted in July 2012.


“Making women’s reproductive health care accessible, affordable, and safe should be a top priority.”


Tell us a little about your background.

I’m a social worker — I have a master’s degree in social work. I’ve spent 20 years working with homelessness, mental health, and domestic violence. I’m also a native Arizonan, wife, and mother, and I’m raising my family here in central Phoenix. I don’t want Arizona to be the state that is constantly ridiculed in the national media. I am proud to be an Arizonan, and I want my children to be proud that they grew up here.

What women’s health care issues do you think should be addressed in the legislature?

We have done some good things for women’s health care. This past year, we passed a bill that will help more women diagnosed with breast cancer have access to treatment. Unfortunately, you can’t separate reproductive health care from women’s health and that’s just what the legislature has tried to do. They have passed legislation (which I fought against!) that severely compromises women’s health by restricting access to family planning, cancer screenings, preventive care, and safe and legal abortion. Continue reading

Meet Our Candidates: Lela Alston for State Representative, LD 24

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.” Continue reading