Human rights activist runs for Congress


Audrey Denney expresses point about human rights to hundreds of people who gathered at the Chico Women’s Club on Jan. 27. Photo credit: Alex Grant

Audrey Denney, a Chico State graduate and former teacher, sat down with an Orion news team to speak about her campaign for the First Congressional District seat as a Democrat.

Denney spoke on many topics including her “deep roots” in agriculture as someone who grew up on a farm and majored in Agriculture Education at Chico State. She also spoke about how Chico State opened her eyes and pushed her to volunteer for Cristosal, a human rights organization in Central America. Due to these experiences, Denney said that she will focus on a “human rights-based approach” to politics and policies.


Q: What is the core focus of your campaign?

A: The core or the heart of my campaign is about trying to fix a broken system. I think our generation more than any of the other generations are tired of the divisiveness and we’re tired of the brokenness. We’re tired of things not getting done. The more I talk to young people the more I get a sense that we’re almost post-party. Our generation is ready for change, they see the polarization of the right and left running farther to their opposite sides and almost forgetting our common humanity. I believe that no matter what the issue is, if you actually sit down to talk to someone about it, you can find common ground.

Q: What sets you apart from the other candidates running for this position?

A: My deep agriculture roots (set me apart). I grew up on a farm, I taught Ag. at Chico State for six years and I’m deeply connected to the agriculture industry of the North State. Agriculture not only provides our food, fiber and our shelter but it’s the largest industry here in the North State. And I think that having that distinctive background will help me reach different populations that don’t traditionally vote Democratic.

Q: Why should Chico State students vote for you?

A: I loved my time teaching at Chico State. I loved the students and I loved working with them… I’m worried about the issues you’re (students) are worried about. I want to make sure that we’re setting you up to succeed and to get good jobs when you graduate. And I hope this is a campaign that college students at Chico State and at other colleges around our district can get excited about.

Audrey Denney speaks at a public forum held in Chico on Jan. 27. Photo credit: Alex Grant

Q: Were you raised as a Democrat or a Republican?

A: I grew up on a family farm and when I was 18 I registered to vote Republican like all my friends did. That’s what you did growing up on a farm. (When) I came to Chico State my world views started expanding. I started taking classes about global development, I started learning a little about the world around me and for the first time I looked outside of myself.

Q: If elected, how would you make decisions for this district?

A: The core of my personal decision-making framework, but also how I would govern for you is using a human rights-based approach. When I was teaching at Chico State and even now when I getting to talk to folks like yourselves I love helping you think through ‘What does human rights mean around the world,’ ‘What are the things that we’re all inherently equal in,’ and ‘How does that play out in our governments.’ What do our governments need to provide us based on these international human rights doctrines and how can we work to advance that abroad, but also at home.

Alex Grant and Grayson Boyer can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @AlexThomasGrant and @theorion_news