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An Open Letter to Katie Hill

| Opinion | 1 min ago

Dear Rep.-Elect Katie Hill:

You have made history by becoming the first Democrat elected to the House from this area, having defeated Steve Knight in what I’m sure you’ll agree was the longest and most challenging and expensive campaign you have ever endured. Let me be the next to say congratulations. It was a true marathon, you having declared back in March 2017, and you are to be commended for this incredible accomplishment.

Of course, you won’t be seated as part of the 116th United States Congress until January, giving you time to reflect on what has happened and what you plan to do in this upcoming term. As I’ve covered this race from the start, I have some definite ideas of what I think you should consider, think about and do for the next two years.

The most important thing is to put the interests of your constituents first. In other words, vote district over party. From day one you should demonstrate that you are looking out for their welfare. Do not give your constituents the perception that you do little to nothing until six months before the election and then start trumpeting your accomplishments.

I saw many Facebook posts that said, in effect, you would vote with Nancy Pelosi over and over again. Granted, “Nancy Pelosi” is a Republican buzzword, but you need to be independent and not cast your vote with the Democrats as much as Knight did with the Republicans (the website FiveThirtyEight pegged it at 98.9 percent). You would be wise to remember the support Knight has given the veterans and the aerospace industry.

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You also need to read up on CEMEX and become intimately familiar with it. While taxes, the economy, jobs and healthcare are important to everyone in the district, mining in Soledad Canyon is a Santa Clarita-specific concern. Saying you hadn’t heard of it until relatively recently cost you any chance of winning The Signal’s endorsement and showed true ignorance (in fact, the Gazette quoted you in an article about CEMEX back in March). If you truly want to represent everybody like you say, you must understand this issue.

Knight alienated a wide swath of voters by objecting to his voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and many in the district are convinced the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will be detrimental, and he infamously said about Social Security, “I absolutely think it was a bad idea.” Granted, you won’t have a problem with these issues, but something unforeseen will arise, and you had better be ready to discuss and explain yourself better than Knight did.

My second suggestion concerns accessibility. A candidate often grants better access than an incumbent, and you would be wise to remember how accessible you have been. That means meeting with all constituents, not just those in Santa Clarita. Don’t let there be stories of locking doors and refusing to meet people. When you return to the district, why not randomly drive around and show up somewhere unannounced? You can take the pulse of your constituents that way.

Finally, for heaven’s sake, avoid the perception of hypocrisy and disingenuousness. People believe that you chased the money – witness your refusal to sign the so-called “People’s Pledge” to keep outside money out of the race and the fact that you raised more than $7 million this cycle. And only mentioning you’re bisexual, a gun owner and a survivor of sexual assault when the issue arises makes you look opportunistic and cheapens these tenets of your identity. You should be proud of who you are and where you’ve come from.

I’m not saying, “Do these things and you’re guaranteed to be successful.” You’ll never please everybody, it’s tough to get much done as a freshman congresswoman, and surely there will be serious Republican challengers the next time around. But true representative government means listening to those you represent. Pelosi and other Democratic leaders and representatives such as Brad Sherman and Adam Schiff are not your constituents. Don’t do what they want if that will harm the people in the 25th.

Once again, congratulations. Good luck, and we’ll be watching.

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About Lee Barnathan

Lee Barnathan has been a writer and editor since 1990. His articles have been published in newspapers, magazines and online. His new book "If You Experience Death, Please Call and Other Fatal Mistakes We Make With Language," a humorous look at the ways people misuse English, is available on Amazon or at his website, www.leebarnathan.com. He is hired by people all over the country to help them refine the message or story they wish to share with their target audience or demographic.

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