PHOENIX, State Capitol – House Democrats today elected Rep. Charlene Fernandez of Yuma to lead their expanded caucus in the 54th Legislature. Rep. Randy Friese of Tucson was re-elected Assistant Democratic Leader and Reps. Athena Salman of Tempe and Reginald Bolding of Phoenix were elected Democratic Co-Whips. House Democrats potentially added four seats in Tuesday's election and, pending final election results, could seat their largest caucus since 1966, which would shrink the Republican majority to a razor-thin 31-29.
"We’ve got a mandate from the State of Arizona that they want us to work together to solve problems for working families, to make sure they have access to quality healthcare and quality public education no matter where in our state they live. We will run with that mandate," said Fernandez. " I don't care what district you live in, what city or town, where you're from or how old you are, Arizonans just want their leaders to get things done. So, with the largest representation Democrats have had since the 1960s, that's just what we are going to do."
Fernandez was first elected in 2014 and served last session as Democratic Whip. She previously worked for both Congressmen Raul Grijalva and Ed Pastor, where she served as a constituent services coordinator and spearheaded an effort to bring a Veteran Administration clinic to Yuma County for the first time in history. She also served Governor Janet Napolitano's administration in the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.
Dr. Friese returns as the Democratic Assistant Leader and was first elected in 2014. This past session he served on the Appropriations Committee. Dr. Friese served on active duty in the U.S. Navy Medical Corps. He is a trauma surgeon and professor of surgery at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. He was one of the surgeons who cared for the victims of the 2011 shooting in Tucson that wounded Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
Bolding is an educator, community leader and social entrepreneur. He was first elected to the House in 2014 and last session was the ranking member on the House Education and served on the Ways & Means Committee. He has founded and led two community engagement non-profits. His legislative work has focused on education, business, criminal justice and civil rights.
Salman was first elected to the House in 2016. Last session she served as ranking member on the Banking and Insurance Committee and served on the Government Committee. In her first term as member of the House she successfully had the Arizona Department of Corrections revisit its policies to increase the number of feminine hygiene products for female inmates are allotted every month.