PRIORITIES and VALUES
Felicia is running for state Senate to improve public education, expand access to quality, affordable healthcare, and make our state government more accountable to northern Arizona’s rural communities. Policies drafted at the State Capitol should create more local job opportunities, while also protecting northern Arizona's water and land for our families and future generations.
Education That Puts Arizona's Children First
The key to a better future for Arizona is better, quality public education for all our children. As an educator and mom whose daughter attended AZ public schools, I understand how critical a strong, well-funded public education system is to our children’s success.
Yet today, our state is ranked 49th for teacher pay, 46th for per-student funding, and 48th for high school graduation rates. Currently, 25% of our teacher positions are unfilled and we are dead last for overcrowded classrooms! We must prioritize K-12 education in our state budget, reduce class sizes, and encourage quality educators and school support staff to stay in Arizona, by funding competitive wages and comprehensive benefits.
Arizona's starved education system not only hurts our children and educators, it’s dangerous for both our economy and public safety. Today, 13% of Arizonans aged 16-24 aren't in school and aren't working, which results in more people relying on government assistance and higher crime rates. High school dropouts are 3.5 times more likely to be arrested, and 8 times more likely to be incarcerated. If our state government doesn't change course, we’ll end up spending more on social-services than our tax base can support. Moreover, due to our poor education rankings, large employers are now choosing not to invest in Arizona.
That’s why I’ll fight to ensure every child has access to quality academic resources from Pre-K through high school—regardless of zip code, or school district. Access to early-childhood education, through quality child care, reduces the likelihood of engaging in criminal activity later in life and saves taxpayer money.
After high school, no young adult should be denied the chance to pursue a college education, simply because their family can't afford it. Nor, should they have to take on crippling student debt just to compete in today's job market. However, it’s important to recognize that college isn't the only path to economic stability and job opportunities. I will prioritize investments in successful Career Technical Education Districts (CTEDs, previously known as JTEDs) to fund certified trade and vocational schools, particularly in rural parts of the state, to allow young adults to pursue traditional, stable, high-skilled trade jobs that set them up for lifelong success.
Finally, Arizona’s present formula for special education funding is 40 years old and no longer meets the requirements of families with students who have learning disabilities, forcing schools to dip into general funds to cover the costs of special education programs. Further, recent state-funded teacher pay raises don’t cover education support staff and specialists that are critical for serving special education students. We must fix our special education funding formula to ensure ALL children have access to quality education.
Our children, educators, and school support staff deserve, and Arizona's future demands, better.
Health Care That’s Accessible & Affordable
Access to quality, affordable health care for all Arizonans is essential. As a nurse, Army medic, and senior medical advisor who has served in combat zones, and additionally, as a civilian nurse manager, a pediatric, geriatric and hospice nurse, and private health insurance company supervisor—this is an issue I have real-world experience addressing. I’m ready to apply innovative approaches and best practices from around our country to address the faults within Arizona’s healthcare system.
It’s time to focus on disease and illness prevention, to not only improve people’s lives, but also reduce the costs to taxpayers.
By expanding the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), which currently provides coverage for 1.9 million Arizonans, we can provide dental, eye, regular physicals and mental health treatment to all Arizonans. Together, we can prevent and diagnose disease and illness before it becomes deadly and too expensive to manage.
I will also fight for affordable medical prescriptions, by allowing AHCCCS to negotiate prices with drug companies and by placing a cap on out-of-pocket expenses, so Arizonans can access life-saving medicines.
We can also overcome rural Arizona's health insurance challenges by using risk reinsurance programs to subsidize the cost for insurers that operate in low-population rural communities, change geographic and population ratings to address high insurance costs, and tap into rural development funds to offset healthcare infrastructure costs.
As a resident of Pine, I’ve seen firsthand the struggles my neighbors face: whether they have to travel long distances for basic treatment; or worse, they simply go without treatment due to the lack of local medical providers. That’s why I’ll fight for critical and life-saving access to quality treatment in our rural communities, by creating incentives for healthcare workers and providers, implementing and expanding telemedicine, and tapping into existing military medical resources.
To recruit healthcare workers to rural, tribal, and underserved communities, which currently lack quality health services and professionals, I will advocate for grants and tuition assistance to Public Health students (e.g. mental health, social work, nursing, nurse assistants, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants) and offer student loan forgiveness.
To detect serious physical and mental illness early on and prevent tragic and violent outcomes, I will fight for schools to have certified nurses who can provide frontline care and also teach health and wellness, as well as counselors, to flag and treat mental disorders and illness.
As a rural resident, I understand how effective telemedicine is as a low-cost solution, that allows patients to receive routine medical check-ups remotely, no matter where they live. Telemedicine both improves health outcomes and lowers transportation costs, lost wages, and hospital fees. With the support of grants from the Rural Health Care Pilot Program and the American Medical Association, who has already recommended a telemedicine bill, Arizona could finally improve our rural broadband access, which is a critical component of remote care.
Lastly, I would propose making smart use of untapped medical resources in the Arizona National Guard and Reserves; including leveraging the Guard’s medical monthly and annual readiness training programs, to provide health care to Arizona’s underserved, rural, and tribal communities.
As your state Senator, and as a nurse, I will always prioritize the health and wellness of Arizona’s families.
Government That's Accountable To Taxpayers
We need more government accountability and stronger local control, to ensure policies drafted in our state capitol benefit ALL Arizonans, as well as protect our beautiful environment and natural resources for our families and future generations.
Currently, our state government can be bought by special corporate interests. For example in 2014, APS spent almost $10 million to help elect officials that once elected, jacked up the price of electricity for Arizonans by $95 million dollars. We need to make sure we have transparency and protections in place so that our state legislators are serving Arizonans first and foremost, and NOT for-profit corporations.
We also need to bring back local control to ensure that local cities and communities have the ability to govern themselves and pass laws that enhance their community. Each town and region is unique, and we need to encourage innovative solutions because local leaders have a better sense of what their residents need.
Finally, we need to invest more in safe roads, broadband access, and emergency services for our rural communities.
Our current state government keeps taking away road maintenance funds that could be used for rural road repairs. We need to make sure the gas-tax supplied Highway User Revenue Fund (HURF) is actually used to make our roads safer and less hazardous for Arizonans.
Additionally, only 78% of Arizonans have access to the internet in their homes and about “898,724 Arizona citizens—mostly in rural and tribal communities—have limited or no access to high-speed internet.” This digital divide blocks our rural Arizona communities from education and job opportunities, and life-saving public safety and healthcare services.
Our taxes already pay for the National Guard’s training and equipment, so we should tap into their engineering and communications resources by partnering them with communities to build and maintain roads, bridges, and expand broadband in our under-served rural and tribal areas, which will save Arizona tax dollars.
During my three decades of military service, I saw firsthand the waste and abuse of our tax dollars. From single-use dining utensils, to frivolous uniform design changes, to the production of obsolete armored tanks, to subcontracting and outsourcing jobs to more expensive civilian personnel.
As a military commander, I successfully managed Arizona’s state-wide budget by cutting unnecessary costs through implementing mobile onsite dental and medical units and coordinating with other military branches to streamline processes and resources, which saved tax dollars and ensured more time for soldiers to attend life-saving combat training, ensuring that 99% of our AZ National Guard soldiers were ready to deploy.
I will bring this same fiscal accountability and moral responsibility to my role as your state Senator.
Creating Stable, High Wage Job Opportunities
We need to reduce local unemployment, create jobs with stable, livable wages, and support small businesses and entrepreneurial job creators in rural Arizona, by providing smart incentives and subsidies.
We can also create more rural opportunities by shifting low-wage jobs to higher-paying careers in the rapidly growing renewable energy sector. Arizonans deserve clean, safe jobs, marketable skills, more employment security and lower-cost electricity bills.
The clean energy sector provided 3x more jobs than the fossil fuel sector nationwide in 2018 and with Arizona being the 2nd sunniest state in the nation, we are poised to bring in thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity.
Additionally, Arizonans could save up to $63.4 million in annual health benefits, by reducing asthma attacks, ER visits, and premature deaths, which are currently caused by air pollution.
I will always look for and support win-win solutions like clean job opportunities for our rural Arizona communities.
Protecting Our Water & Land Rights
Protecting our limited natural resources is vital for rural Arizona’s success, safety, and security. That means we must put our families first—instead of private mining and fracking companies that have a track record of compromising our health and safety, and then dumping the cleanup bill on Arizona taxpayers.
Uranium mining in Arizona has dirtied our air and water, and leached radioactive and hazardous materials into our soil—poisons that may never go away and cause cancer in nearby communities. The CDC has already found high levels of uranium in babies born in some areas of Northern Arizona, and on the Navajo Nation, which is home to 250,000 people and the site of over 500 abandoned mines.
Uranium mining companies have also forced our taxpayers to bear the costs of cleaning up their dangerous waste. Shockingly, the billions of dollars Arizonans have had to pay to clean up their dangerous mess is 50% higher than the value of the uranium that they extracted and sold in the first place.
As recently as January 2020, Arizona sold 16,810 acres of public land to create a new open-air sewer for poisonous mining waste. This sewage site is near several Arizona watersheds and risks contaminating our scarce drinking water supplies. The company who now owns your public land, has a long history of water pollution and has already caused billions of dollars of damage. Additionally, the families in the region have already endured a mining company who polluted a public swimming hole with millions of gallons of arsenic.
Arizona is already in a 20-year-long drought, yet your state legislators also want to authorize chemical fracking, which would not only dangerously drain our aquifers—it would also poison our groundwater, leach dangerous chemicals into our soil and crops, and sicken livestock and people. Some of these chemicals can cause especially dangerous, life-threatening health risks for pregnant women, and their unborn children.
Currently, 80 permits for chemical fracking have been issued to a handful of private interests near the Petrified Forest in the Holbrook Basin. The Basin sits directly above the Coconino Aquifer, which provides water, via the Colorado River and Lake Mead, to 40 million people. Fracking would redirect your drinking water to mining for helium, natural gas, and oil. Just one fracking well takes an average of 45 million gallons of water—water that’s lost forever. These chemical fracking permits also allow mining companies to pump toxic chemicals directly into the ground at the Coconino Aquifer, putting the remainder of our drinking water at direct risk of contamination.
But the issues with chemical fracking don’t stop with extraction. The wastewater generated from fracking is full of deadly byproducts like arsenic, radioactive materials, and radon gas. Worse, when that wastewater is pumped into injection sites, the process induces earthquakes and creates fissures that increase our drinking water’s exposure to those same lethal byproducts.
Incredibly, 42 U.S. fracking companies filed for bankruptcy in 2019 alone, dumping 26 billion dollars of debt and cleanup costs onto taxpayers like you and me. We need representatives who will stand up for your land and water rights, and for you and your families’ health, instead of prioritizing private, special interests that poison our communities while costing our state billions in the process.
As a nurse, I will always put our clean drinking water and our families' health and safety first and make our government accountable to its citizens!
Honoring Veterans & Supporting Military Families
As a retired Colonel from the U.S. Army with 32 years of military service, I know veterans' issues firsthand. Veterans and their families have earned the right to access quality care, for their service to our great nation.
Arizona must increase both information about and access to the educational, employment, and healthcare benefits vital, to support our veterans with what they need. We must also ensure that job opportunities and affordable housing options exist, that military families are taken care of, and that Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD) and traumatic brain injuries are properly diagnosed and treated.
While I was serving as the Senior Medical Advisor for the AZ National Guard and in Afghanistan, I witnessed the devastating mental health impacts of soldiers returning home from war zones.
Over 60,000 U.S. veteran suicides have taken place in the recent span of 10 years-- that’s more U.S. fatalities than during the entire Vietnam War. The Veterans Administration (VA) has also reported that more than 50% of those suicides were the result of firearm shootings. Tragically, over 70% of these women and men received no healthcare services from the VA, before they took their own lives.
PTSD must be diagnosed before soldiers are discharged from the military, to ensure the necessary post-deployment treatment. I will advocate for ways to streamline the process to speed the delivery of healthcare services from the VA, so that our veterans don't fall through the cracks.
Finally, to address the shortage of mental healthcare providers, I would fight to secure incentives for healthcare workers and students who serve not only in our rural and under-served communities, but who also commit to serving our veterans and their families.
As a career servicewoman, I will always fight to protect those that have sacrificed so much for our communities and way of life.