POLSON — The race is on for the Governorship of Montana and the field appears to be set with the latest entry of another Democrat. On October 3, Whitney Williams declared her candidacy for the open seat to succeed Democrat Governor Steve Bullock, who’s term-limited, and now is seeking the party’s nomination for the U.S. presidency.
The gubernatorial race is Williams’ first dip into the electoral process and it’s not a toe dip. It is a high dive that she figures she can nail with a 10-point landing, not a belly flop.
Democrats have held the Governor position for 16 years with eight years under Brian Schweitzer and the last eight by Bullock.
Also vying for the Democrat nomination are: Lt. Governor Mike Cooney; former state legislator Reilly Neil; and House Minority Leader Casey Schreiner of Great Falls.
Republicans seeking the office includes: Attorney General Tim Fox; U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte; State Sen. Albert Olszewski; Gary Perry, and Peter Ziehli.
The name Williams is well known in Montana. She is the daughter of former Montana U.S. Rep. Pat Williams, and former-Montana Legislature Senator Carol Williams.
The 48-year-old Williams is the founder and CEO of williamsworks, a business that helps Fortune 500 companies and organizations pursue philanthropic projects around the world. She also co-founded the Eastern Congo Initiative with actor Ben Affleck meant to help strengthen the African nation’s civil society.
On Friday, Williams made a campaign and introductory stop in Polson at the Bickford Building. She was introduced to an enthusiastic crammed-in audience of nearly 50 people by Dr. Joe McDonald.
Williams said she would bring hard work, integrity and passion to the Montana Governorship that she honed via front-row-seat experience of the democratic process based on her parents’ extensive political trench battles. She said it would be Whitney Williams running for the office not her parents. However she will not hesitate to listen to their behind-the-scenes advice. In fact her mother, a somewhat glowing Carol was in attendance Friday.
Williams said her governing agenda includes economic development, improving public education including the addition of pre-Kindergarten and college apprenticeship programs, protection of public lands, and addressing the ever ballooning costs of healthcare, especially prescription medication.
“Insulin medication that used to cost $20 now costs $200,” she said, adding that the federal government has failed to bring down the costs that are equitable to all so it’s up to states to take that bull by the horns and resolve the issue.
“We need to get Pre-Kindergarten in the schools. Governor Schweitzer got full-day Kindergarten in our schools,” she said. “The data is there that shows the importance of educating the younger kids. We need to get that done.”
Williams also supports the budding hemp industry in the state — Montana leads the nation in hemp cultivation. Beyond the agribusiness arm of hemp there is the processing and sales that are creating heretofore non-existent economic growth.
Williams strongly opposes a sales tax, and that one would never be a part of her agenda.
“Sales taxes are regressive,” Williams said. “Seattle has a 9 percent sales tax and it is a killer for low income people.”
Williams also promotes alternative energy ventures such as wind and solar. “There is a lot of employment opportunities in those economic spheres,” Williams said, adding that she would be working on the creation of jobs that pay a decent living wage. “The development of jobs in the state that pay $55,000 a year is possible. A governor can work towards attaining that goal.”
Williams wants to improve access to the Internet that includes access to the speedier broadband for all areas of the state.
Williams anticipates the Rep. Gianforte will win the Republican nomination and that is a terrifying thought for her. She said, based on research she has the political profile that Montanans want as governor.
“Montana is what America started out to be. We have a common humbleness and humanity,” Williams said. “My core values of looking out for others comes from Montana."
The 2020 General Election is Tuesday, November 3, 2020.