Democratic Candidate for U.S. Congress comes to Red Lodge

By: 
Eleanor Guerrero
CCN Senior Reporter
Thursday, September 13, 2018

Photo by Eleanor Guerrero
Kathleen Williams came to Red Lodge this week on a mission to protect affordable health care, children’s insurance, social security and Medicare.

Kathleen Williams came to town with a message on Monday, Sept. 10. She spoke of the need to have public input on bills coming forth from her opponent. 

Williams wants to stop the lack of public involvement and the dysfunctions at the federal level. She wants to increase public civility and discourse. A former two term Montana legislator, Williams is running for Democratic U.S. Representative.  

She is a strong proponent of protecting public lands. “Everyone, everyone is saying, ‘Bad process. No public input.’ They were relying upon county commissioners to feed them input,” she declared. “Almost all the natural resource legislation is so over simplified. For someone who has worked in water, forestry and outdoor recreations, you can’t just log and road your way to an asbestos forest.”

The daughter of a Lieutenant. Colonel, World War II veteran, she says due to her upbringing, she has “lived the values of public service.” 

Williams is a water conservation expert. She is a former staff member with the nonpartisan Environmental Quality Council of the Montana Legislature and the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. She was elected to the Montana House of Representatives in 2010 and served three two-year terms. 

Her specialty is in water. “I’ve spent a lot of time working statewide balancing needs of ranchers with fisheries." Five straight years of drought, have resulted in her being nicknamed “the drought queen.” "We formed a lot of solutions, built a lot of relationships. When you help someone with their water rights it’s almost like you help them raise their children." She did her graduate work in Colorado. Her first job in Montana was a nonpartisan State legislative staff 24 years ago. “I’ve tried to serve this great state anyway possible over 24 years.” She staffed the Natural Resources Committee and staffed the Environmental Quality Council in the 90’s and found herself, as a Montana legislator, being a member of those committees in 2011. In 2009, her husband went to Iraq to partner with USDA in rebuilding its agriculture. She was doing workshops on how to engage with legislature and craft testimony for the League of Women Voters. Pushed to run by her peers, she was elected to the legislature and served in 2011 and 2015. She chose not to run again only to see term limits enacted, hyper partisanship and beginning conflicts. “They couldn’t even pass a budget in 2007, which is only thing state constitution requires!” Two years ago, her husband went skiing and collapsed, and “my life changed.” 

Wiliams spent a year and a half helping herself and her two boys.  “A lot of people wanted me to go back to the legislature. I drove out to that district, they thought I could flip, big senate district. But I went back and turned on the national news I got so fired up.” She had an epiphany. “They are so dysfunctional, so broken, can’t get anything done. I finally figured out it’s the national level that’s calling me. They need committed public servants with experience that are going to help turn this thing around." Her priorities: service to state, knowledge of what Montanans are interested in and talking to Montanans: 1. Fixing health care. Uninsured rates-some paying $2,000 month with $10,000 deductibles before they get any services at all. That’s bankruptcy waiting. Also immoral." 2. Fostering opportunity. "It is common to all people-a strong public education system, ensuring opportunities for people to have good pay and benefits, secure and economically sustainable retirement, social security, medicare, women’s equality and rights. It’s that big bucket about removing barriers or providing just a little support so they can live the Montana dream and the American dream.”

Her third priority is “protecting our environment and outdoor heritage. Protecting public lands and water. We can hit the ground running. I’ve been explaining federal laws to farmers and ranchers for years.” She sees these as critical interests to Montana. 

Her fourth priority is to give “Dignity, civil dialogue, integrity, and stateswomanship back to Congress. I hear so much about people’s frustration.”

Williams said because of her husband’s and her father’s military background, and her husband’s work in Iraq, her fifth and last priority is, “We need to build a better place in the world.”

She exclaimed regarding “International trade, tariffs, international instability for our agricultural market, I never thought I’d be talking about that but it’s absolutely necessary.” 

Williams would hold her colleagues accountable for not stepping up for agriculture. 

Asked about her plan for affordable health care she says, 1. Stabilize the health care market; 2. Fund children’s healthcare long term; 3. Allow Medicare to bargain for drug prices and 4. If you are over 55, you can buy into Medicare. She noted, “This does not require a tax increase.” It would build the basis for everyone to move over to Medicare.

Phil Robertson asked her opinion on Wilderness Study Areas since “buffer areas keep the wilderness from degrading.” 

She said, “I object to the fact it’s just willy-nilly, the talk is all over the place. Two of those study areas are already being considered in a forest plan revision process; it’s a total slap in the face.” 

Williams is having her own roundtables on these and other issues (including health care) because there are no public input opportunities with her opponent’s bill. “Some may be buffer areas but others are stand alone, special areas…the Terry Badlands. The BLM lands may need their own process.” She said regarding these pristine areas, “There is outpouring of criticism; it has had an effect.” 

Williams has more detailed plans on her website. See: Kathleenformontana.com.

 

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Upcoming Events

  • Monday, September 24, 2018 - 7:00pm
    Joliet Group meets at the Community Center Monday at 7 p.m.
  • Thursday, September 27, 2018 - 7:00pm
    Meets every Thursday, 7 p.m. – 8 p.m. at the Red Lodge Area Community Foundation, 122 S. Hauser. It is open to all. 425- 1755.
  • Thursday, September 27, 2018 - 7:00pm
    Clarks Fork Group meets at St. Joseph’s Catholic Hall, north end of Montana Avenue, Thursday at 7 p.m.
  • Saturday, September 29, 2018 - 10:00am
    An Overeaters Anonymous group will meet every Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Grace Fellowship Church, Absarokee.
  • Monday, October 1, 2018 - 7:00pm
    Joliet Group meets at the Community Center Monday at 7 p.m.
  • Thursday, October 4, 2018 - 7:00pm
    Meets every Thursday, 7 p.m. – 8 p.m. at the Red Lodge Area Community Foundation, 122 S. Hauser. It is open to all. 425- 1755.

The Carbon County News

Street Address:

11 N. Broadway, Red Lodge, MT 59068

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 970, Red Lodge, MT 59068

Phone: 406-446-2222

Fax: 406-446-2225

Toll-Free: 800-735-8843

Open: Monday-Friday, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.