Charlene Fernandez

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Charlene Fernandez
Charlene Fernandez by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Democratic Whip of the Arizona House of Representatives
Assumed office
January 19, 2017
Preceded by Rebecca Rios
Member of the Arizona House of Representatives
from the 4th district
Assumed office
January 12, 2015[1]
Serving with Geraldine_Peten
Preceded by Juan Carlos Escamilla
Personal details
Born Charlene Elise Ramos
Yuma, Arizona, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Sergio Fernandez
Children 3
Residence Yuma, Arizona
Alma mater Northern Arizona University
Profession Educator

Charlene Fernandez (born Charlene Elise Ramos) is an American politician who currently serves as the Democratic Whip[2] of the Arizona House of Representatives. She represents the 4th Legislative District and serves on the Committee on Appropriations.[3] She was first elected to the state House in 2014 and represents Southwestern Arizona, specifically, the majority of Yuma County, western Pima County, southwestern Maricopa County and southwestern Pinal County. [4]

Early life and education[edit]

Fernandez was born in Yuma, Arizona to the late Antonio "Tony" Ramos and Carmen Ramos. She attended Yuma High School where she graduated, and went on to attend Arizona Western College before transferring to Northern Arizona University earning a Bachelor of Science degree in education.


Fernandez worked for Congressman Ed Pastor for twelve years, coordinating constituent services for the western portion of then Congressional District 2. While working for Congressman Pastor, Charlene spearheaded an effort that culminated in bringing a Veteran's Administration clinic to Yuma County for the first time in history; previously the Phoenix Veterans facility was the closest place for them to receive these services. Her experience led to her becoming a consultant for a software company that produced a Constituent Management System for the U.S. House of Representatives.[5]

Charlene later served Governor Janet Napolitano as a liaison for the Arizona Department of Environment Quality in Yuma County. In this capacity she worked with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as well as its counterpart in the Republic of Mexico, to ensure that the air and water in Southwestern Arizona remained safe while ensuring that businesses faced minimal impact.[6]

Political career[edit]

Fernandez was elected to the Yuma Union High School District Governing Board, serving as both President and Vice President.[7]

In 2008, Fernandez was elected by the Arizona Democratic State Committee to be First Vice Chair of the Arizona Democratic Party, she served in this capacity until 2009. [8]

In 2012, Fernandez ran for the Arizona State House from the newly drawn 4th Legislative District. Fernandez ultimately lost in the August primary by 140 votes to Juan Carlos Escamilla. Escamilla went on to win the general election.[9]

In May 2014, after being urged to run by the Super PAC Arizona List, Fernandez announced her candidacy for the seat again. She won the August primary by a margin of 12.8%.[10] The general election was unexpectedly competitive, Republican Richard Hopkins led Fernandez on election night as the heavily Republican portion of the district reported early. The next four days saw the margins go up and down, by the fifth day, with the Democratic strongholds in Pima and Yuma counties reporting, Fernandez was declared the victor by 188 votes.[11]

In 2016, Fernandez successfully ran for re-election; she was unopposed in the general election.[12]

In 2018, Fernandez is once again unopposed for re-election.

Arizona House of Representatives[edit]

Arizona House Leadership[edit]

Fernandez was elected Democratic Whip on November 10, 2016.[2]

Committee on Appropriations[edit]

In 2014, Fernandez was appointed to the coveted Committee on Appropriations, she also serves on the newly created Subcommittee on Public Safety, Infrastructure, and Resources. [3]

  • Committee on Appropriations
  • Appropriations Subcommittee on Public Safety, Infrastructure, and Resources

Legislative tenure[edit]


Fernandez has been very supportive of the #RedforEd movement. Speaking to reporters she called public education, "The great equalizer."[13]

Fernandez has worked with Save Our Schools Arizona, a grassroots organization collecting signatures to refer SB1431, the ESA voucher expansion bill, to the 2018 Arizona ballot, encouraging a "No" vote. Proponents believe that SB1431 takes money away from public schools and gives it to private schools with little to no accountability and our seeking its repeal.[14]

In 2016, Fernandez was name Legislator of Year by the Arizona Parent Teacher Association.[15]

The Arizona Republic published a guest editorial by Fernandez in September 2015 entitled, "How I'd reform private school tax credits." In it Fernandez details her views about Arizona education funding in general and private school tuition tax credits in particular.[16]

Volkswagen settlement[edit]

Fernandez supports using money from the Volkswagen emissions settlement for clean energy buses. She has argued that children are required to be in and around these buses on a daily basis and utilizing the settlement to help protect them from the harmful emissions would be a just use of the funds.[17]

Gun laws[edit]

Fernandez has been a supporter of stricter gun control. She has been criticized for recognizing students visiting the capitol advocating for such measures. [18]

Sexual harassment reporting[edit]

Fernandez fought her Republican colleagues who sought to limit the ability of sexual harassment and assault victims to report. Stating that, "We're blaming people." [19]


Fernandez has been an outspoken advocate of LGBT issues and helped form the Arizona State Legislature's LGBT Caucus. [20]

Minimum wage[edit]

Fernandez was a supporter of the successful Proposition 206 which raised Arizona's minimum wage.[21]


Fernandez called on Senator Jeff Flake to support higher ozone standards. She said, "When children have asthma, if your child stays home from school, mom and dad usually have to stay home with that child, and we're talking about productivity. If mom or dad have to take that child to urgent care, if they don't have insurance—that's dollars and cents. So this affects all of us."[22]

Criminal justice[edit]

Fernandez has opposed the private prison system in Arizona supported by Governor Doug Ducey. She has challenged the governor's staff from her seat on the Appropriations Committee to justify the need to provide more prison beds.[23]

2016 presidential endorsement[edit]

Fernandez was one of the earliest to endorse Hillary Clinton for United States President. She was elected as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.[24]

2016 election lawsuit[edit]

Fernandez filed a declaration in support of a Plaintiffs' Motion for a preliminary injunction against the impact of HB 2023. The law ,which criminalizes the activities of citizens seeking to assist those in returning early ballots who otherwise may not[clarification needed] is still being litigated in the courts. Fernandez wrote, "The collection and personal delivery of early ballots is particularly crucial among my constituency. In areas like mine that are very rural, many voters lack home mail delivery and can have trouble receiving and mailing their early ballots.” At least one county election official, Helen Purcell, a Republican from Maricopa County, chose to not enforce the law saying, "We are not the police."[25]

Personal life[edit]

Fernandez serves or has served on the Yuma Community Foundation, Board of the United Way of Yuma County, and Yuma Leadership.

Fernandez and her husband Sergio have three adult children.

Electoral history[edit]

Arizona House of Representatives District 4, General 2016 (2 Seats)
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Charlene Fernandez (inc.) 29,755 51.70 +19.16
Democratic Jesus Rubalcava 27,794 48.30
Arizona House of Representatives District 4, Primary 2016 (2 Seats)
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Charlene Fernandez (inc.) 6,623 53.86 +16.12
Democratic Jesus Rubalcava 5,673 46.14
Arizona House of Representatives District 4, General 2014 (2 Seats)
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Charlene Fernandez 12,251 32.54
Democratic Lisa Otondo (inc.) 13,324 35.40
Republican Richard Hopkins 12,063 32.05
Arizona House of Representatives District 4, Primary 2014 (2 Seats)
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Charlene Fernandez 4,497 37.74 + 5.91
Democratic Lisa Otondo (inc.) 4,556 38.24 + 3.34
Democratic Jose Suarez 2,861 24.01
Arizona House of Representatives District 4, Primary 2012 (2 Seats)
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Charlene Fernandez 3,865 31.83
Democratic Lisa Otondo 4,238 34.90
Democratic Juan Carlos "J.C." Escamilla 4,038 33.25


Non Partisan Elections[edit]

Yuma Union High School District #70 General Election, 2008 Non-Partisan (3 Seats)
Candidate Votes %
Charlene Fernandez (inc.) 13,893 18.65
Bruce Gwynn (inc.) 16,123 21.65
Dan Farar 13,559 18.20
Yuma Union High School District #70 General Election, 2004 Non-Partisan (3 Seats)
Candidate Votes %
Charlene Fernandez 13,646 20.53
Robert Brown 14,602 21.96
Sally Doyle (inc.) 17,322 26.06
George Munoz 12,842 19.32
Bernadette Presloid 7,851 11.81



  1. ^
  2. ^ a b "Leadership". Retrieved 2018-04-17. 
  3. ^ a b "House Member". Retrieved 2018-04-17. 
  4. ^ "Final Maps". 2012-01-17. Retrieved 2018-04-17. 
  5. ^ Fernandez, Charlene. "State Representative". Arizona State House Member Page. Arizona State House of Representatives. Retrieved 29 January 2016. 
  6. ^ Shultz, T.M. "Yuma Daily Sun". Yuma Daily Sun. Freedom News. Retrieved 29 January 2016. 
  7. ^ Stallworth, Robyn. "Yuma County Recorder". Yuma County Recorder Election Results. Yuma County Recorder. Retrieved 29 January 2016. 
  8. ^ "Latest SD to declare for Obama: AZ Dem 1st Vice Chair Charlene Fernandez". Democratic Underground. Retrieved 2018-04-17. 
  9. ^ Reagan, Michelle. "Arizona Secretary of State" (PDF). Arizona Secretary of State. Arizona Secretary of State. Retrieved 29 January 2016. 
  10. ^ Reagan, Michelle. "Arizona Secretary of State" (PDF). Arizona Secretary of State Election Results. Arizona Secretary of State. Retrieved 29 January 2016. 
  11. ^ Reagan, Michelle. "Arizona Secretary of State" (PDF). Arizona Secretary of State Election Results. Arizona Secretary of State. Retrieved 29 January 2016. 
  12. ^ a b "Elections | Arizona Secretary of State". Retrieved 2018-04-17. 
  13. ^
  14. ^ Lollman, Laura. "Save Our Schools Arizona holds march for schools at state capito - Arizona's Family". Retrieved 2018-04-17. 
  15. ^
  16. ^ Charlene Fernandez, AZ I See It. "Lawmaker: How I'd reform private school tax credits". Retrieved 2018-04-17. 
  17. ^ "Chispa AZ pushes to replace diesel-powered school buses | Cronkite News". 2018-03-15. Retrieved 2018-04-17. 
  18. ^ "Ducey may back limited gun law reform | Arizona". 2018-03-20. Retrieved 2018-04-17. 
  19. ^ "Arizona lawmakers debate time limits for sexual-harassment complaints". Retrieved 2018-04-17. 
  20. ^
  21. ^,_Proposition_206_(2016).  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help); Missing or empty |title= (help)
  22. ^ "AZ Rep. Charlene Fernandez Calls on U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake to Support Higher Ozone Standards". KAWC. 2017-08-02. Retrieved 2018-04-17. 
  23. ^
  24. ^ "Cheers, tears from Arizona delegation as Clinton gives historic acceptance speech | Cronkite News - Arizona PBS". 2016-07-28. Retrieved 2018-04-17. 
  25. ^
  26. ^ "Election Results Archive | Yuma County". 2011-09-20. Retrieved 2018-04-17.