Charlene Fernandez represents District 4 in the Arizona State House, which includes 4 counties and numerous cities. She serves on the Appropriations and Transportation and Infrastructure Committees.
Charlene Fernandez was born and raised on the north end of Yuma.
Charlene attended public schools, the very schools that she has become a tirelessly advocate. Her teachers became the mentors that she still looks up to today. Former Minority Leader Robert "Bob" McClendon not only taught her social studies but the importance of public policy and the affect it has on every child in Arizona.
Upon graduating, Charlene took classes at Arizona Western College eventually graduating from Northern Arizona University with a Bachelor's of Science degree in Education.
During this time Charlene got married to Sergio, and raised a family of three, Brian, Carlye, and Lisa. She and her husband sent their children to many of the same schools that she had attended. All three of them graduated from Arizona Universities.
Instead of leading a classroom, she went to work for Congressman Ed Pastor, representing him and coordinating his constituent services for the western portion of then Congressional District 2. In her time with Mr. Pastor, Charlene opened up the first congressional office ever in Yuma and helped bring a Veteran's Administration clinic to the County.
After Mr. Pastor's district was redrawn to exclude Yuma, Charlene went to work for Governor Janet Napolitano representing the her area at the Department of Environmental Quality. Working to ensure growth in Yuma County, she assisted farmers and developers in their dealings with the state agency.
Charlene continued her pursuit of public service. She was elected to a seat on the Yuma Union High School District, serving for a time as President of the Board. In her capacity she helped spearhead cost savings in the schools, such as finding a more cost effective way of transporting students to school, delivering lunch to students, and pushed the district to modernize while saving taxpayer funds. Because students in the district had outdated books which were too expensive to continue purchasing, she helped usher in a new era of students receiving a PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) which delivered the latest information at a very low price.
I spoke strenuously against HB 2026 which, if it becomes law, will prevent citizens from helping people return their ballots. This mostly affects the elderly, disabled and those living in rural areas with some distance from a post office.
I've talked before about prison vs education spending in Arizona. The governor and the Department of Corrections anticipates more prisoners and wants to build new prisons for them. Our schools are not afforded the luxury of this foresight.
Our state has made a 20 year commitment to private prisons, we have anticipated a need for more prison beds, I disagree. One of the many reasons is the low pay for these private correction officers. These men and women put their lives on the line for a starting salary of 12 an hour. If we want our state to grow with strong and happy families, we need to ensure that the companies profiting off of the tax payers at least pay livable wages.
This graphic shows how much it costs us to not educate our children. We can truly pay now or pay later. Please share this graphic on facebook and twitter - by selecting the share button above.
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