We Need More Single Mothers Like Me In Congress — Here's Why

Photographed by Refinery29.
There is one single mother in all of Congress. She represents the 25% of American households headed solely by a woman breadwinner. Single moms are young and old; they are black, brown, and white. Single moms are professional problem solvers and collaborators, because they have to be. Single moms are quick on their feet and good in a pinch. Single moms are masters of balancing a budget. They are strong, compassionate, innovative and tough.
I should know.
Toughness is a real asset in the Adirondack Mountains, where the winters are long, heat is expensive, and the short tourist season is our bread and butter. I own a shop that is busy for six weeks out of the year, and that butter has to be spread accordingly. I own a beautiful house that I purchased in foreclosure and can’t afford to heat. I drive an old Prius with a big crack in the windshield and good snow tires because my Dad told me it’s the tires and the driver that make a car handle well in snow. And every couple of years I have a choice to make: new snow tires or school supplies for my kids.
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Most of my friends average three jobs and hustle to make ends meet, but our children climb mountains and breathe fresh air. People in the North Country often refer to life here as poverty with a view. And that’s exactly why I’m running for Congress. I’m sick of the guilt and shame I feel when my kids want to go out to dinner and I have to say no because the mortgage payment is due. I’m done sweating the three weeks it takes to find out whether my heat assistance application has been approved and I can afford to fill the fuel tank. I’d like to take my kids on vacation.
I’m running because people like me are told we’re unqualified to represent ourselves – and I wholeheartedly disagree. I don’t think anything in this country will change if the people like me, who actually live the policies coming out of Washington every day, are not included in the process. I’m sick of the lip service our elected officials pay to problems that do have solutions. Maybe it’s time for some new ideas from the real world.
Right now we have a legislature largely made up of people with the same socio-economic backgrounds and experiences making decisions on our behalf. Theoretical discussions based on statistics are shaping our policy when millions of people with direct experience living those policies could and should be included in the process. I’m here in the trenches with everyone else and I know our stories matter. That our experience is valuable. In this economy of hopelessness, it’s up to us to fight for a better future.
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Photo Courtesy of Katie Wilson.
I’m scared that my children’s future is in jeopardy. I’m scared that they won’t always have clean air and water, even here in the mountains. I’m scared that my daughter might not have the same opportunities as my son, and honestly I can already tell she doesn’t. I’m worried that a tweet storm might set off WWIII.
So I’m doing something about it. I’m here to speak to the problems that so many people I know are facing – problems that no one has done anything about. I’m running for Congress to give my neighbours a voice, and to make sure my kids have equal opportunities no matter where they choose to live. I’m here to bring a mother’s compassion and understanding, grit and tenacity to the table.
As a mom, I had to wrestle with the knowledge that running for Congress would be a consuming process. I knew that without an incredible support network it would be impossible. But the people of my community showed up to help – and that’s also directly related to our future and the prosperity of our community. This is a strange new era and we’re all showing up to confront it.
And besides, I’m raising kids who will stand up to injustice and sacrifice a little for the well-being of all. I’m raising kids who are not sheltered from adversity but who have the strength to meet it head on.
This is for all the people out there living normal lives who feel utterly disconnected from our process of government, yet are the most deeply affected. This is for my children and yours – and their children to come. This is for all the strong women who came before me and cleared a path.
Katie Wilson is an outspoken small business owner, local community organiser, and single mother born and raised in the North Country. After studying business and entrepreneurship, she left college to return home to literally save the family farm. Now, Katie lives in Keene with her two beautiful children, where she runs her own business and is running for Congress to represent the people of NY-21.
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