Gary Horton | Katie Hill: The Definition of Authenticity

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Voters in the 25th District have a rare opportunity to send an authentic, impassioned and truly one-of-us local leader to represent our interests in Congress.

Katie Hill, our local candidate for Congress, is the personification of authenticity, a true-to-the-core, experienced and purposefully determined leader.

That she is “one of us” is obvious. Born on Dyess Air Force Base in Texas, daughter of an Air Force captain, Katie grew up in Saugus and the Antelope Valley, attended local schools here, attended College of the Canyons, graduated from California State University, Northridge, with a master’s in public administration and lives in Aqua Dulce with her husband on a 2.5-acre ranch with their horse and ranch animals.

That’s about “one of us” as anyone gets. And an accomplished “one of us,” at that.

I was talking with friends about Katie at Starbucks the other morning when Johnny the barista overheard us. Says Johnny, “I attended Saugus High with Katie. She was always a stand-up person. She was the smart one in the class who raised her hand and asked questions. She really participated in the high school activities. I really respect her.”

A completely unsolicited endorsement. That’s “one of us.”

Like Johnny, I respect Katie, too.

The other day I had the privilege of interviewing Katie Hill over at the Chuy’s on Hamburger Hill. Her campaign office is right in that shopping center if you want to go over and get a bumper sticker or lawn sign…

Katie is understandably very busy, but she generously carved out about 45 minutes for a high-speed question-and-answer where we covered all kinds of ground. From personal bio, to life purpose, to “why run now?” to policies and positions – I must have peppered Katie with 75 questions. And she volleyed back just as fast as I could ask, and she did so with directness, candor and transparency.

I’ll add “graciousness” too, as never in our interview did Katie say a negative word regarding her opponent and was in fact grateful for his service as both a police officer and now, a congressman. Katie’s concerns aren’t with the person Steve Knight – indeed, she regards Steve and his wife as friends and wonderful community members. Katie’s concerns are with Knight’s following Trump’s impaired directives, how Steve’s party has been compromised, and the negative impact Trump-commandeered policies are having on Californians and on civility, liberty and justice overall.

Katie’s motivation in entering this race goes back to her long history of service. First, working in emergency rooms while training in nursing, and later with her decade-long career in working with the poorest among us – our burgeoning homeless population. Katie has both experienced and benefited from life in wonderful suburban settings, yet she’s seen firsthand what happens to people “when things get real on the streets.” I’m not sure you could find a more balanced compassionate, yet pragmatic person to represent us in Congress.

Katie is steeped deeply in public policy. She knows policy and she knows politics. As executive director of PATH (People Assisting the Homeless, the largest homeless advocacy organization in the nation) with an annual budget of $50 million – Katie knows how to manage people, policy and money. It’s rare we see rising political stars with such deep credentials as Katie Hill, but this time the SCV and 25th District win out with a stellar opportunity to put real competency in public policy into our 25th District slot.

Born to a U.S. military vet, daughter of a nurse, granddaughter of a U.S. military vet and granddaughter also of a nurse, Katie’s family tradition is service itself. She worked her way to a master’s degree in public policy at a public university. Volunteering first in hospitals, then with the homeless and rising to nationally recognized leadership in homeless public policy – Katie is the real deal. Authentic to her core.

I asked her what she’s given up entering this congressional race and Katie finally took a pause from the quick peppering of question-and-answer and thought for a moment…

“Everything,” she said, slowly breathing out. “My job. My family time. Nineteen months straight of continuous non-stop effort with no breaks. One hundred thousand dollars of my savings to pay for living without an income. Our plans for having kids delayed and put on hold.”

“That’s sacrifice,” I replied. “So why do it?” I inquired.

“Because now is a unique and urgent time requiring real solutions managed by capable representatives faithful to their constituents in Washington. It can’t be put off any longer. Lingering problems like health care, infrastructure and homelessness must finally be honestly addressed.”

“And,” she continued, steely-eyed in a way that indicated she was determined to her core, “I recognized I’d been blessed in life to be directly qualified as the right public servant at the right time to make change happen for our district. I’ve been given a lot. It’s my responsibility to give back and I can impact positive change most as our representative for the 25th Congressional District.”

I certainly agree with Katie Hill. Our district really lucked out with this one. Katie is the right person at the right time for a very big job ahead.

It’s been a pleasure introducing Katie Hill’s character and background in this column. As the election nears, I’ll dig into Katie’s policy positions that will assist the SCV and California in ways we most care about.

Gary Horton’s “Full Speed to Port!” has appeared on Wednesdays in The Signal since 2006.

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