Katie Hill has some thoughts about the ideal congressional candidate. But first things first: Being on the current Time magazine cover is not on her criteria list.
It’s true that Hill is pictured with 47 other women who are running in various races around the country (she’s in the second row from the bottom, far right) as part of a story about the very large number of first-time women candidates. But she wasn’t interviewed for the story, and Time used an online photo.
Here’s what Hill considers necessary:
-One who reaches across the aisle and can maneuver through bureaucracy. Hill has dealt with all sorts of Republicans and Democrats in various government agencies in her time as executive director of PATH (People Assisting the Homeless). “Compromise” is not a bad word to her.
-One who can keep and balance a large budget. PATH’s budget reached $50 million annually, and Hill was responsible for it, as well as the 400-person staff.
-One who understands public policy and can get legislation passed. While Hill didn’t write the text of Los Angeles city Measure HHH and county Measure H, she consulted and advised for the two anti-homelessness statutes.
-And one who lives – and has lived – in the district her entire life. Hill graduated from Saugus in 2004 and now lives in Agua Dulce.
“I know for us to switch a red seat that’s been held by Republicans for 40 out of the last 50 years to blue, no matter how much Hillary won the district by, is going to take a person of a certain background,” she said, “who understands the community and who can work with people of all kinds of political backgrounds.”
As far as Hill is concerned, everything points to her running now. Like many people, especially women, Hill was deeply upset at Donald Trump’s election and tried to make sense of it.
She attended last year’s women’s march (and last week’s, too), and tried to figure out and plan for what Republican majorities in the legislative and executive branches would mean for her work at PATH. Along the way, people started asking her to run.
She ultimately decided, “How clear it is that our government is just not working. You finally hit a point where it’s, well, who else is going to do this? Who else has something to offer?”
So, on March 8 – 18 months before the election – Hill became the first to challenge incumbent Steve Knight (R-Palmdale) for the state’s 25th congressional district.
“People who represent a community should really be committed and invested in that community,” she said. “You need to be somebody that’s gone through the issues that people are struggling with every single day.”
To Hill, that’s homelessness, not enough affordable housing, income inequality and healthcare. She believes that by the time somebody becomes homeless, “It’s a culmination of so many other factors in society,” including a lack of affordable housing and skyrocketing healthcare costs.
“It is estimated that California has a million units of housing less than it should, and we need to address this problem at the federal level,” her website says. “Last year, the wealthiest 10 percent of families in the U.S. held 76 percent of the total wealth in our country, while the bottom half of the population accounted for just 1 percent. We need to close that gap, and ensure that the wealthy pay the same percentage of their income in taxes as the rest of us do. If we did that, we would have all the resources we’d need to invest in rebuilding the middle class and ensuring a strong future for our country.”
Hill favors universal healthcare, but acknowledges that just taxing the ultra-rich isn’t enough.
“To get to something like Medicare for all, that’s going to take time. We’ll have to end up taking the cost that people pay, whether that’s their employer or through their own individual side, and that’ll end up having to be a tax,” she said. “The studies show over and over that that’s not more than what they’re paying on their healthcare now. It ends up being less, and it ends up being delivered more effectively. It could look like a payroll tax. I’m not going to pretend it wouldn’t cost taxpayers (nothing), but it will cost you less than what your healthcare is costing now.”
Hill said she knows that to win, she needs to do well in the Antelope Valley, where Knight’s family has lived for a long time. Unfortunately, she doesn’t yet have an office in the area, but campaign manager Zack Czajkowski said she’s looking in Palmdale. Meanwhile, Bryan Caforio, who lost to Knight two years ago, has offices in Santa Clarita and Palmdale (Hill recently opened a Santa Clarita office; the Simi Valley Democratic Club has offered space to all candidates).
Hill says the AV is undergoing a demographic change. “That’s where we went strongest for Hillary last time, that went for Bryan last time despite the fact that Steve’s family’s been there forever,” she said. “Our polling shows we’re doing well in the Antelope Valley. But I don’t think you ignore a single area.”