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!

photo of Lela - headshot 4-2014 copyPhoenix 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: 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!

photo of Lela - headshot 4-2014 copyWhen 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