21st Congressional candidate Katie Wilson interview

Katie Wilson: A North Country Insider

Saratoga – Katie Wilson wants to initiate change in the 21st Congressional District, which extends from Lake Ontario to Lake Champlain and from the Canadian border into parts of Saratoga County and all of Warren, Washington and Fulton counties. She is a single mother. She is a business owner. Now, she is running for Congress as a Democrat in the North Country to be the voice for those that feel forgotten.

“It’s my mission to bring a working class voice to DC and make sure our needs are being heard and met,” she said. “I’ve been watching so many other parents and business owners struggle to make ends meet here in the North Country for decades,” Wilson said. “I know what it’s like to feel that pang of shame and frustration when my kids ask to go out to dinner after a basketball game and I have to say no because I’m not sure I’ll have enough money to pay the fuel bill. I know what it’s like to keep an employee on year-round at a seasonal business when I can’t really afford to, because they need the income as much as I do – and it’s the right thing to do.”

Wilson believes running against incumbent Elise Stefanik is the right thing to do.

“I know it will take someone who lives the struggles that we face here in the North Country to properly advocate for the people of this region” she said. “This district has been for sale in the past and it’s time to take back our voice. Right now special interests largely fund our elections and drive policy, this has to change if we are to create a better future for our children than the one we have before us now.”

Wilson said she is having a similar conversation with people on the campaign trail.

 “Everyone is telling me they don’t want politicians and candidates speaking over them using large words instead of speaking to them from the heart. There is disconnect between the people and politicians in Washington,” Wilson said. “That’s what I bring to the table. I’m living these policies. I’m in the trenches. I’m not a Washington-insider. I’m a North Country-insider.”

Wilson has been a North Country-insider for most of her life. She proudly tells the story of her grandparents. In the 1930s, using an inherited coin collection valued at about $200, they purchased a farm in Keene, NY. In the 1970s, Wilson’s mother and father turned the farm into a year-round bed and breakfast, The Bark Eater Inn. Her father, a well-known man in the Lake Placid region for bringing Nordic skiing to North America, and her mother, a mental health and addiction counselor in private practice and the director of Pastoral Care for the Diocese of Albany, ran the Inn for many years until Wilson took it over at the age of 22.

“It was an incredible experience being surrounded by that much action and excitement, there were endless moving parts to the operation. I ran the business and property in my early 20s including the horseback riding operation, wedding facilities and catering services. It was a challenge that I was happy and honored to take on after studying business and entrepreneurship in college,” she said.

Wilson is in the trenches as a business woman, entrepreneur and mother for the past 10 years. She is grateful to her family, friends and community for always being supportive of her.

“As many women know, becoming a mother changes everything – priorities shift and awareness deepens in drastic ways. It’s my duty as a mom to serve the needs of my children, and all families because, as we know, it takes a village,” she said. “Families across the country are struggling to make ends meet and I know this intimately. My experiences are not unique across this region, but they would be in Washington. The vast majority of our representatives in Congress are worth a million dollars or more. This has to change if we are ever to solve the income and wealth gap that drives polarization and discord across the country.”

Wilson is passionate about a number of topics, but one at the top of her list is healthcare.

“We need to create healthy communities and lift them up. If basic needs are not being met, how can we expect our children and communities to thrive?” she asked. “We have to address people’s basic needs and a big one is healthcare.”

Wilson supports universal healthcare. She cites Chris Murphy, the democratic senator from Connecticut, as having a healthcare plan worth exploring. “It would open up a Medicare buy in on the open exchange, providing us the freedom and choice to buy into a great healthcare plan while driving down costs across the board. Medicare works pretty darn well and we can discuss further improvements—but setting up Medicare as the basic level of care is an excellent place to start,” she said. “This would build a bridge from where we are today to where we need to be. We need action now, not empty platitudes and weak campaign promises.”

The North Country is notoriously expansive. Yet, Wilson promises to reach as many constituents as she can. She knows this means traveling will fall on to her shoulders to hear those that are suffering the most.

“It would be an honor to visit the local nursing homes and those being served by home care services. It’s the job of our elected officials to include those voices who have been underserved in the policy making process,” she said. “The effort must be made to reach out those who don’t have the resources or capacity necessary to show up for a meeting or travel hours to an office building.” Wilson promises that if she is elected to represent the 21st District that she would commute to Washington, D.C. “This is my home,” she said. “I’ll be here every darn chance I get and taking my experiences back to DC, not vice versa. The most important thing for me is to make sure all voices are heard.”

At the end of the day the most important job Wilson will ever have is being a mom. She said she had a calling to run for Congress in the 21st District. She knew that if she didn’t take the opportunity to serve her neighbors in this platform she would spend the rest of her life wondering what if. However, before she entered the campaign she had to get the approval of her children. A few weeks ago Wilson was speaking to the Women Democrats in Johnstown. Her children were in attendance. Afterwards, Wilson’s 9-year-old son told her that he was proud of her and that he hopes to be like her when he grows up. Wilson smiles at the memory.

“What he said to me made all of this worth it. My family is making huge sacrifices for me to do this and their support is my biggest boost,” she said.

Having her family’s support allows Wilson to immerse herself as much as she can in the North Country and the people she hopes to represent.

“The people of the North Country share a common tenacity. One that I am intimately familiar with,” Wilson said. “At the end of the day this race isn’t about breaking through glass ceilings it’s about working together, setting partisanship aside and building a solid foundation for my neighbors to stand on. As the only working-class candidate in this race I will spend every single day advocating for those who deserve a voice.”

For more information on Katie Wilson and her campaign visit her website: https://www.katiewilsonforcongress.com/.

By Emily Marcason-Tolmie

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