Candidate brings congressional bid to Hi-Line
Havre Daily News/Nikki Carlson
Sen. Kim Gillan, D-Billings, answers questions from people at Wolfer's Diner during a visit to Havre Saturday afternoon.
State Sen. Kim Gillan, D-Billings, brought her campaign for Congress to the Hi-Line Saturday, meeting with Democratic leaders, holding a meet-and-greet and talking to reporters.
Gillan said voters will find in her "a person who has a track record of getting results."
Gillan is the top fund-raiser to date in what may become a six-way Democratic primary race to oppose Steve Daines, a Bozeman businessman, who is thus far unopposed for the Republican nomination for Montana's sole U. S. representative seat.
During her eight terms in the Montana Legislature — she was in her party's leadership in seven of those terms — Gillan said she worked across the aisle for legislation with people she disagreed with. She promised to continue that kind of work in Congress.
She handles workforce development issues in her job at Montana State University-Billings, and said economic development would be a priority if she were elected to Congress.
Montana State University-Northern will play a key part in opening up economic opportunities along the Hi-Line, she said. The university offers training opportunities for both young people and non-traditional students looking for changes in their careers.
Her emphasis will be on "giving people skills they need so they can compete in today's and tomorrow's job market," she said.
And the university's biodiesel program will open doors for farmers and for new industry in the area, she said.
She promised to fight efforts to reduce student assistance though programs such as Pell Grants, saying that the average student today graduates with more than $20,000 in debt.
She promised to work toward making U. S. Highway 2 four lanes, and said infrastructure improvements are vital to Montana's future.
"We probably spend more time on the road than residents of any other state," she said.
She said she wants to see if technology can be used to keep Canadian-U. S.. ports open longer hours, and said she favored efforts to improve the economy in reservations.
Improving broadband coverage in the state will be vital to providing "quality, high-paying jobs in the state."
"With improved broadband, we can overcome some of our so-called isolation," she said,
Technology can mean that people can perform their jobs in rural communities, she said.
Gillan said she was involved in many health care reforms in the Legislature, including mandates that insurance companies cover illnesses such a diabetes and autism.
She said in Congress, she would have been "a reluctant supporter" of President Barack Obama's health care reform legislation, though she would like to have seen changes in the final version.