Katie Hill, 30

Although she’s not a career politician, Katie Hill has always been dedicated to public service. Before running for office, she served as the Executive Director of California’s largest non-profit provider of homes for the homeless PATH. At 30, Katie is looking to unseat the last Republican holding an L.A. County-based district.

What was the best advice you received before you ran for office?

My entire campaign has really been shaped by some advice I got from my dad back in the beginning, and that was just, “trust your gut.” At the end of the day, I know myself, I know my community, and I know our values – I’ve stayed true to my roots from day one and you can see that throughout our campaign.

You've been described as running the "most millennial campaign ever"? Why do you think your campaign attracts so many young people? How do we rework campaigns to be more accessible to Gen Z and millennials?

I’m young, I’m a woman, I’m a member of the LGBTQ community, and I’m actively working to break down the barriers between representatives and those they want to represent. I’ve been very open, I’ve shown what it’s like behind the scenes of a political race getting national attention, and I’ve really tried to get rid of the bureaucracy surrounding campaigning; I think that helps young people see themselves in what we’re doing. I hear regularly from millennials and Gen Z that they want a representative who will listen to them and speak about the issues they care about – I’m a part of their community and those are the issues I care about, too.

What past experience prepared you the most for the campaign trail?

I learned so much from my time running People Assisting the Homeless (PATH), as well as the effort to pass Measure H and Prop HHH, the historic initiatives that brought millions of dollars in housing infrastructure to LA County. Though honestly, I don’t know that anything ever fully prepares you for the campaign trail when you are the candidate because the hours you work and the levels on which you’re scrutinized really are unparalleled.

Where's your favorite place to hang out in your district?

My husband Kenny and I love to go climbing, hiking, and camping in Texas Canyon. It’s both a getaway and makes us feel right at home – in fact, it’s where I went climbing when my team shot our first TV spot!

Your campaign has received widespread national news and support. How do you ensure you remain grounded and connected with your community in the 25th?

I ran for office because if you have the tools to serve your community and a deep investment in that community, then you have the duty to do so. Now, it’s more important than ever before that regular people step up to advocate for their communities – that’s how we ensure we have a real voice. The 25th district is my home --  it’s where my family, friends, and neighbors are, so I focus my energy here instead of getting lost in all the national buzz.

I don’t think you ever adjust to the microscope you’re under as a candidate, but I’m so thankful to have a platform we can use to elevate the issues that affect us right here at home.

Most people look to nonprofits or their local government to combat homelessness in their area.  As the former ED of PATH, how do you think we can address homelessness on a federal level?

The growing homelessness crisis is a direct result of the shortage of affordable housing and skyrocketing rents in our communities. Homelessness disproportionately affects people of color, survivors of domestic violence, single-parent households, and veterans -- all populations we must do better in serving. One of the steps we must take to address our nation's housing crisis is an investment at the federal level. It is estimated that California has one million units of housing less than it needs. It is important to have an effective state-federal-local partnership to ensure that there is adequate funding and that the resources available are maximized.

You've been very open about your past including your own abortion and your identity as a bi-sexual woman. What have been some of the best responses to you sharing your stories? How do you combat negative reactions?

For so long, stories like mine haven’t been talked about by political candidates, and especially by women, because there’s a pressure to be perfect and to hide our personal stories. But I believe they make us stronger. I’ve met young women on the trail who have chosen to get involved in our race when they’ve never been political before because they finally saw themselves as a candidate. That’s probably the best part of this entire experience.

I believe in tearing down the barriers between representatives and those they represent – that means being real, even when it’s a risk, and even when you get a negative response.

What advice would you give to another young person considering running for office? What do you wish you had known before you ran?

Everyone has an opinion on how you dress and wear your hair and what you say or don’t say, but if you can toss all of that aside and be a real person, then even if people don’t agree with you they’ll know where you’re coming from and you can find some common ground. Don’t get lost in the story people want to tell about you, make sure you’re fighting to tell your own story and fighting for the people who are actually in your community.

The views expressed in this interview are those of the candidate, and do not reflect the beliefs and views of Ballot Breakers or its staff.

Lacy Wright