Williams aims to end the country’s divisions

Alastair Baker
News Editor
Thursday, October 8, 2020
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U.S. House candidate Kathleen Williams at Lions Park, Red Lodge, last week. Photo by Alastair Baker

U.S. House candidate Kathleen Williams (D) has vowed to “heal” the political and social divisions within Montana and the country as a whole. She was speaking at a rally in Lion’s Park, Red Lodge, at the start of her 6-day “Solutions Tour.”
“We need to be working together, to find that common kernel,” she said. “In the US Capitol, I was surprised to learn there is a Republican elevator and a Democratic elevator. I’m going to get on the Republican elevator.”
Williams hasn’t been silent on her continued desire to work across party lines as she did while in the legislature.
“That’s why I am running. Congress is broken, everyone is in their own corner, they can’t talk about any issues, can’t do their job. When I was in the legislature, I worked with far-right people because we found a common ground to work with,” she said.   
“We are divided in this country and Montana. And we need to work to heal that divide and I want to ask each of you to pick two people who might be on the other political side and commit to yourself that you are going to engage with them and talk about our common values, decency, honesty, stateswomanship. It’s about showing up and being willing to meet people face to face. Responding to people when they write to you or call and hopefully, they respond to what you asked (them).”
By breaking down those barriers Williams believes people can “discover our common humanity” and that it may surprise some, how much “we have in common.”
Williams told the 60 plus audience she “loves bringing people together. It’s a win, win, win.”
“We need a truly independent voice in Congress and one that is rooted in Montana’s hopes, struggles, and dreams, and works for all of us and not just special interests,” she said.
Williams said she decided to run again for this post (she narrowly lost to Greg Gianforte in 2018) because she “thought about all the stories people had shared with me of their hardships and tribulations. Important stories.”
“This is about Montana and I want to be a public servant, not just a politician looking for the next rung up the ladder,” she said.
Williams feels there are three areas that are top priorities for Montanans.
The first is fixing health care.
“It is a personal issue to me,” she said, recalling her childhood and looking after her mother who had Alzheimer’s.
“My father and I became her caregivers for 8 years. I know what a healthcare crisis can do for a family. And we need to fix this patchwork system,” she said.
She wants to lower the age for Medicare eligibility to allow people of 55 and over to buy into it.
“I think we can do it quickly, it has broad appeal and will lower costs in both the Medicare pool and individual pool by taking a segment that is relatively older and less healthy out of the individual market and putting them into a market where they will be the relatively younger and more healthy groups,” said Williams. “Bargaining for direct prices is supposed to save $11 billion a year. We could do something with that, right? Help pay debts, and people’s insurance premiums.”
The next issue applied to opportunity and “for everyone to be able to craft and achieve their American Dream.”
“It is getting further away from people, and whether we need to get government out of the way, or need a stronger educations system or be more supportive of our businesses, whatever it is we need, we need to make sure Montanan’s have a shot at prosperity, to feed their families and keep a roof over their heads. We all deserve that,” she said.
Montana’s outdoor heritage is another area of concern for Williams.
“Our Beartooth Plateau is magical,” she said. “We need someone who is a champion for public lands and clean air and water and knows how to work with those agencies.”
Another hot button issue with Williams is campaigning for financial reforms when it comes to elections. She has worked to keep donation limits low because she wants candidates to have to go out into the public and meet the people instead of expecting huge handouts.
“When we budgeted for this race it was going to cost  $5.7 million. Look at all the money coming into all the races; we can use that money so much better. It is your money. It is all the people who want to see honesty and integrity in Montana that have to contribute and support these campaigns,” she said.
A proposal to do some campaign finance reforms is forthcoming but she hasn’t seen the details.
“ It is based on a letter I signed on in 2013 about reversing the Citizens United Court decision. That needs to happen, this Supreme Court is unlikely to do that. It’ll take a constitutional amendment. So let’s get that going,” she said.
Another element of this bill suggests parties get financial contributions from corporation penalties rather than Super PACS.
“We need it, as normal people like me can’t run. This is very grassroots. I don’t take corporate PAC money, unlike my opponent,” said Williams.
Williams touched on the recent Presidential Debate and told of a woman who she said had  “mistakenly” let her children watch the Debate and brought them to a meeting hosted by Williams because “she wanted to show them who will bring decency and respect back to Washington.”
“Voters deserve so much more,” said Williams on the Debate.
The last two polls she said have shown her ahead of her opponent, Matt Rosendale.
“We know it will be a nail biter,” said Williams.