This past August I traveled to Alaska to volunteer with the No on 2 Campaign in hopes of defeating the parental notification measure that was on the ballot for their primary election. Unfortunately the dangerous ballot measure passed but not without a fight! I had the privilege of volunteering with some amazing activists in Alaska, some of whom also traveled to the state to help out, like Lindsay Love from the great state of Montana.
When you volunteer with people for 14 hours a day canvassing door-to-door, calling voters and distributing literature you learn some things about them. I learned that Lindsay Love gives 110 percent when she signs on to a project and that she is a dedicated activist. I also learned that she is running for state office in Montana. Given that much attention has been paid to debating the political enthusiasm deficit among younger adults, I decided to follow-up with Lindsay Love and find out more about why she’s running for office and her campaign to become the State Representative for HD25 in Montana.
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Tell me a little bit about your district. How long have you lived there and why do you want to represent the residents of the district?
HD 25 is a Montana House District covering the northwest region of Great Falls, MT. It is predominately residential, and includes 3 elementary schools, 1 middle school and 1 high school. The district has a population of 8791 residents with a median age of 38.8 years. The median household income is around 38000 per year, making the district a solidly middle-working class neighborhood. Many district residents are employed by the Great Falls Public School District, Great Falls’ only hospital, and small businesses. HD 25 also includes a significant retired population. The district is historically Democratic, but as we all know, politics create an ever-shifting landscape that make every election and every voter outreach program unique and important.
I was born and raised in House District 25, and I am running for the State Legislature because I want work for the neighborhood that produced me. Great Falls, and Montana, often struggles to keep our young people working and living in the state and community, and I think it is so important that our younger generation steps up and gets involved at every level of service. I want to work for the future Montana that I’m going to live with in 50 years, and serving my neighborhood in the State Legislature is a great way to do that.
What, if any, influence has the Tea Party movement had on your race?
My opponent is a member of the Great Falls Tea Party Association, and while it’s important for people to stand up for what they believe in, we have to be respectful and mindful of all perspectives and beliefs. Our politicians need to know that we are paying attention, and they need to know that they work for all of us, not just the loudest group. That is how we get our elected officials to focus on what is important for Americans: creating good jobs, ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to lead healthy, productive lives, and moving our communities forward.
How was federal health care reform received in your district and do you anticipate that having an impact on your race? For example, has Montana joined any lawsuits?
Montanans appreciate the right to be dealt with fairly, and federal health reform is one step along the way to ensuring all our community members can access the healthcare they need to be healthy productive members of our town. The health reform bill does important things for Montanans, including improving Medicare benefits for Montana seniors, reducing Medicare premiums for Montana seniors who are not enrolled in Medicare Advantage, and prohibiting insurance companies from excluding pre-existing conditions for children in Montana, starting this year. Some benefits will be seen immediately, while others will be phased in over time. This allows us to take a close look at the bill and see what’s working for Montana and what isn’t. The bill may not be perfect, but it’s a step in the right direction.
Montana’s Attorney General has made the smart decision to save taxpayer money and not join a lawsuit challenging the legality of federal health care reforms. Many constitutional scholars on both sides of the political spectrum have weighed in on the lawsuit challenging the health care bill, saying that it bears no constitutional basis. This lawsuit is politically motivated, and our attorney general has plenty of other issues to address that are important to Montanans, such as tackling the state’s DUI problem, prescription drug abuse, Internet crimes, and consumer protection.
What has the campaign been like? How has your campaign been received from within the Democratic Party and in general?
This has been a wonderfully engaging and rewarding process. Voters in HD 25 really respond to a younger candidate with diverse experience, an open perspective and a willingness to listen. Younger candidates are in the minority and often face opposition from regulars in the Great Falls political scene, I know I have an innovative perspective and a desire to work across the aisle. I’m more interested in concrete solutions and positive change than politics as usual, and that belief resonates with voters. People are excited and energized by seeing younger folks getting off the sidelines and into the game. Great Falls has an older population, and so it’s an exciting time to be running as a younger candidate. Though I did face a primary opponent in June, the State Party is working to elect Democrats in every district, and I am glad to be in the party that stands up for individual freedoms, advocates for working Montana families, and supports the social structures and programs that give everyone a fair shake and a fair chance to live healthy, productive and happy lives.
What advice would you offer young women thinking about running for office?
If we want to positive change in our communities and country, in any area or issue, we have to be willing to step up and do the work. Issues like pay equity, equality for all Americans, social justice all depend on the energy and effort of individuals, and once again, we as younger women have to start working now for the future we want to experience decades down the road. The best advice is to just do it, work hard, and power through the discomfort and misgivings that accompany all new endeavors.
Do you identify as a Millennial? Do you feel that new/young voters will turn out in November and do young/new voters play a role in your race?
While my neighborhood does not have a very large Millennial population, I think that my role as a young candidate is motivating and important. It is especially important for older Montanans to see the young generation picking up the torch, and getting involved in our communities.
Are reproductive choice and reproductive health care issues in your campaign and what is your position?
I am a community outreach coordinator for Planned Parenthood of Montana and I find a direct connection between the Montana values I grew up with; hard work, respect for others, responsibility and stewardship, and the work I do in Great Falls and in towns around the state. Access to health and prevention care and protection of individual rights is essential to keeping Montanans productive and engaged in their families, jobs, and communities. It goes without saying that the majority of Americans and Montanans respect the right to be left alone. I believe everyone has the right to choose when and how to have a family, and I believe that ensuring access to affordable healthcare, affordable birth control, developing comprehensive sex education, protecting pharmacy access and addressing pay equity are all essential to maintaining healthy families and communities that develop and pass on Montana values.