Ruth Weissmanm – Montana – State House (District 59)
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
I was not lucky enough to be born here but was smart enough to choose Montana as my home. I was born and raised in Germany and came to the U.S.A. to obtain a doctorate in clinical psychology. Right here in Montana, I became a proud U.S. citizen. My career focused on improving public health by developing effective interventions and by teaching future generations the skills needed for making a positive difference in their communities. I have been a leader of several nonprofit organizations in the mental health and health fields.
In Montana, I developed and published an economically viable youth suicide prevention plan for Montana; was chair of the Livingston HealthCare Foundation; and I volunteer for the Livingston Food Resource Center.
Members of the legislature face many complex issues that require expertise or experience in a wide array of subject matters. No one representative will have deep knowledge in all such areas. I believe my particular educational and professional background provides a needed complement to the experiences and skills of other members of the legislature. For example, I have extensive expertise in mental health and public health; health services economics; education and higher education administration; budgeting and data-based decision making; and nonprofit governance and private-public partnerships.
Why are you running for office?
I am running for office because, as a mother and grandmother, I have grown concerned about the state of democracy in Montana and the many challenges our communities face that do not seem to be addressed with sufficient urgency or effective policy. From the affordable housing crisis to the suicide crisis, from declining open access to public lands to the underfunding of our public schools, we face problems that aren’t “Republican” problems or “Democrat” problems — these are problems affecting us all. They threaten our cherished Montana way of life. For the sake of our communities’ health and economic well-being, and — importantly — for the sake of future generations, we urgently need to deal with these challenges. These are problems that require that we listen to and work with local communities and cooperate across party lines to find solutions that work for the people in my district and in the state of Montana.
I am concerned that some recent legislative decisions will worsen rather than improve our communities’ problems or that future decisions will be made that will have adverse impacts. Examples include policies that undermine the quality of public schools or that will result in the state not taking advantage of federal funding for key programs. Alarmingly, for example, if the Medicaid expansion is rolled back, nonpartisan experts predict that 30% of ranching and farming families will lose health insurance.
I am also concerned about the potential that future legislatures may amend the state’s constitution and weaken key protections or rights such as voting rights, the right to clean air and water, or the right to privacy.
What are the three biggest issues facing your community?
Affordable housing; mental health; democracy (voting rights; preserving the state constitution)
How do you propose to solve those problems?
Most fundamentally, I believe that the responsibility of a representative is to, as the name implies, represent the people in my district. This means that I will actively solicit the views and needs of the people in my district. Because my constituents likely will have a wide range of views, it also means that I will actively work to forge common ground. I will make every effort to hear all perspectives, to use data and other sources of best practices, to be transparent in my decision-making, and to propose solutions that integrate all sources of information.
What is your stance on environmental and climate concerns that are facing your community?
Climate change is real and poses a grave threat today and even more so to the future. It already costs us economically and threatens our health and safety. I believe it is irresponsible for government not to take serious steps to mitigate the effects of climate change and to find ways to reduce the impact of human behavior on climate.
What commonsense gun safety measures would have the most impact on your community?
Locks to prevent accidental shootings or suicide; background checks to reduce the chance that criminals or otherwise inappropriate people can purchase or own guns; closing the boyfriend loophole; red alert laws to reduce the chance of gun violence.
How would criminal justice reforms impact your community?
Address inequities based on sociodemographic characteristics; reduce violence against/murder of indigenous women.
How would you work to protect a woman’s reproductive health?
Uphold Roe at the State level; improve access to quality reproductive healthcare; promote reproductive health education.
What measures would you advocate to ensure that your constituents have the right to vote?
Mail-in voting with postage paid; same-day voter registration; mandate that high school curricula include information on the right to vote, how to register to vote, and encourage voting as an expression of patriotism
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