The following is a full transcript of our interview with Kristin Collum, the Democratic candidate running for the office of Idaho Lieutenant Governor.
Inland Northwest News: “Could you provide a basic description of your platform? What do you want to see for Idaho as Lieutenant Governor?
Kristin Collum: So as Lieutenant Governor I would like to just see more cooperation, more unity. I’m a moderate, and what I see right now is just the fabric of our communities, even our families, just being divided, and I think we all need to come together and work together on what’s best for Idaho and not so much what’s best for a party.
INWN: For those who don’t know, what are some of the main duties of the Idaho Lieutenant Governor and how do you plan to fill those roles?
KC: There are two primary duties. One is president of the Senate. So Senate is in session from January to March, and it’s overseeing the parliamentary rule – so that’s the primary one. They do have a tie-breaking vote, but in Idaho, we have 35 senators so it doesn’t happen very often, maybe every once every few years. The other thing is the acting governor when the governor is out of state. So that is – the big thing there is just keeping the ship steady, it’s being a calm, collected, steady leader that keeps things in place and when the governor comes back, even better than when they left it.
INWN: Medicaid expansion is obviously a major issue for this election with Prop 2 on the ballot. Where do you stand on that measure? What does closing the healthcare gap in Idaho look like to you and do you have any plans to address that, if elected?
KC: Yes. So I’ve been to each of the 44 counties in Idaho as a candidate and this issue has come up in every single county. I’ve heard some just heartbreaking stories – very large concern about people, even if they’re not directly impacted, they know somebody who is and they’re really worried about that. So I do expect Medicaid expansion, Prop 2, to pass, and then it’s a concern of will the legislature listen to the votes of the people. There have been times in the past when Idaho’s legislature has not, so it would be a matter of watching that go through, making sure it’s shepherded safely, and then it’s up to Health and Welfare to implement. So it impacts at least 62,000 people. They’re working families, they’re really needing just that ability to stay healthy so that they can work so that they can prosper and go on, and it’s also a big deal for rural hospitals. They have to write off tens of thousands of dollars every month because they’re providing the service to the people in the gap, and yet having to write it off. We need to be helping those rural hospitals so that they don’t have to close down. That would be a travesty. And also once we pass Medicaid expansion, it attracts medical professionals from other states to come, and, you know, we have a dearth of medical professionals, behavioral health professionals. Those people would then be more attracted to coming here because they know that they would get paid, and we have such a lack of those, especially outside of our cities that Medicaid expansion really is that big first step, and the thing that we’ve so desperately needed for the last six years.
INWN: Education has also been a big issue for Idaho in recent years. What are some of your thoughts on the current educational system, and do you have any plans to potentially help improve education in the state?
KC: So my thoughts come from when I was in the military when I was in the tech sector, you know, decades of this, what I see are the symptoms of low morale. So you look at the high attrition rate of teachers, you look at the inability to backfill teachers, and the basic thing is they’re feeling disrespected, not appreciated, not listened to, not paid really. There’s a very, very deep problem there that needs to be solved, and that’s where I would start. That’s, you know, when I was in the military when you saw morale problems, you had to go talk to the soldier, you know, when you’re in big corporations, you had to go talk to the workers, the people on the front lines. They are the experts. They need to be listened to and they know how to fix this, so that’s where I’d start.
INWN: What do you feel makes you the best candidate for this position, or, what qualifies you to be Idaho’s next Lieutenant Governor?
KC: My decades of leadership. So my background is 12 years in the military and I started out enlisted, but I worked in NATO, I worked two years in the Pentagon for Colin Powell, I led as a signal officer platoon leader in an infantry division, and then the last 21 years being in charge of increasingly larger teams and complex, international programs of hundreds of people. I’m the one that my senior executives chose to parachute in when there was a project that was off track or to launch a big program that absolutely had to succeed because I have those leadership qualities. I pull in the experts and the stakeholders and the opposing sides and we come to align on winning goals, and then I lead to mission accomplishment. It’s that leadership. It’s that ability to work up, down, and across to collaborate with anyone – anyone that’s going to get it going further and get it going in the best interests of Idaho.
INWN: Is there anything else you think prospective voters should know about this particular race prior to the election?
KC: Well it is unique in that it will be a woman this year, and so my opponent, also a woman, and it will be the first time that Idaho has elected a woman lieutenant governor, but I would say that the most important thing is that in Idaho no matter what governor you vote for, you can always vote for me for lieutenant governor. I am the one veteran – lieutenant governor candidate or governor candidate. So the governor, of course, is in charge of the Idaho National Guard. We have a very high percentage of veterans in our state. I represent those veterans and our families, and I can help with the Idaho National Guard. Also with my tech sector background, I’m very invested in helping Idaho with the cybersecurity risks that we have in our state. So that is something very unique that I can help with, that I can help protect. The last thing we want to do is have a hacker attack and steal the identities of Idahoans or attacks information, or voter information, or anything like that. We need it protected. That’s my background, and Lieutenant Governor Little started the cybersecurity committee. I’d like to take that and actually expand that and galvanize it.”
This is part of a series of interviews with candidates running for offices impacting north central Idaho and eastern Washington.