Democrat Kathleen Williams would like to take what she learned serving three terms in the Montana Legislature and apply it to representing the entire state in Washington, D.C.
Williams is running for the 2018 Democratic nomination for the U.S. House seat against incumbent Republican Greg Gianforte.
Williams, of Bozeman, made a campaign stop in Whitefish recently. She said her background as a state legislator, serving as a non-partisan legislative staff in the 1990s and her role as the associate director of the nonprofit conservation group the Western Landowners Alliance make her the right candidate for Montana.
Serving in the state Legislature, she said she learned that “it’s OK to be an optimist even in the minority.”
“I was still able to succeed in pushing legislation,” she said. “As one of 435 (in the U.S. House), I’m confident I can do the same.”
“I love this state,” she added. “When you’re part of the [state] Legislature you do represent one district, but you’re looking for the betterment of the entire state.”
Williams moved to Bozeman 24 years ago. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in resource economics from U.C. Berkley and has a master’s in recreation resources from Colorado State University.
She is among the five candidates seeking the Democratic nomination.
On gun control, Williams says she would like to see restrictions on weapons such as the AR-15 used in the recent Florida school shooting. Though a gun owner herself, Williams said she has never felt a need to have an “assault weapon” and would support a ban on bump stocks, which is an attachment that enables semiautomatic weapons to fire faster.
“Kids deserve to go to school and go home safe,” she said. “We need to keep guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them.”
“I support the right to own guns,” she added. “But we need to have an adult, national dialogue about gun safety.”
Williams noted that she has a personal perspective on healthcare having assisted her father for many years in caring for her mother, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease at a young age.
“Our healthcare system is quite broken,” she said. “People can’t afford to get coverage and paying tens of thousands of dollars before they get any service, and that’s unacceptable.”
She says she has a plan that would initially stabilize the market and reduce costs, and would work on a proposal to allow those 55 and older to buy into Medicare. She noted that many countries around the world have successful healthcare systems and it’s time to explore what option is right for the United States before moving forward.
“We haven’t had a national dialogue about healthcare,” she said. “We’ve got these multiple systems right now that is very inefficient for everybody.”
On the potential of transferring federal lands to the states, Williams says she opposes the idea except in the case of small land exchanges that improve access.
“The state doesn’t have the resources to manage federal lands,” she said. “Recreation opportunity is truly a resource that needs to be managed just like any resource — water, air, forests.”
Williams — a hunter, angler, hiker and skier — noted she makes time each week to get outdoors often with her German wirehaired pointer, Danni.
In addition to Williams, the other Democratic candidates seeking the nomination are Grant Kier, Jared Pettinato, John Heenan and Lynda Moss.
The primary election is June 5.