COEUR d’ALENE — “People have to know who I am, know my opponent, and consider who is the better qualified person. And that’s all it takes.”
So said Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor Kristin Collum on Wednesday, when asked what it will take for her to pull off an upset Nov. 6.
The tech sector professional and Army veteran said she has the management skills, dedication to all Idahoans, and experience to further economic development in North Idaho.
She has visited North Idaho five times in the past five months and plans on a sixth trip before election day.
If elected, Collum said she would like to grow the state’s broadband and STEM capabilities in order to attract tech jobs.
She also would want to boost the state’s cybersecurity efforts, which she credited current Lt. Gov. Brad Little with improving, but said she could bolster further thanks to her background in the field.
Idaho is paying its top cybersecurity personnel less than what she was offering entry-level staff in the private sector, Collum said.
“We need to find the money and best practices and put them in place” to ensure that Idahoans’ health, tax, and other data don’t get into the wrong hands, she said.
The highly dysfunctional DMV system is a fiasco that could have been prevented if the system had undergone integration, scalability, and beta testing, said Collum. She did such project management and system testing for multi-billion dollar companies. If elected, Collum said she would willingly swoop in to clean up, or prevent, such problems in state government.
Collum says she’s a fiscally conservative candidate, and she’s illustrating that on the campaign trail. She has spent zero nights in hotels while crisscrossing the state multiple times. She and her staff pack sleeping bags and tents, get food from grocery stores instead of restaurants, and frugally stewards each dollar donated by supporters, she explained.
“It’s donor money. That’s campaign funds,” she said. “We want our grassroots donors who give us $10 even when they can’t afford it to know that means a lot to me.”
The candidate said her experience in the military gives her the ability to work across party lines and seek Idaho’s welfare regardless of what party holds the legislature or the governor’s office. Pragmatism and professionalism are her hallmarks. “We need to come back to the middle, talk about how we collaborate, and focus on people, not parties,” she said.
As such, she said the recent national division over the nomination of new Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh pained her. Both sides in the debate felt that the process had been unfair to their side, she said.
Collum said her job as a leader would be to ensure that a good process is in place before controversy strikes, and then ensure that everyone conforms to it when emotions run high. She related her experiences on the receiving end of sexual harassment and discrimination, but said the experiences were “not going to define me.”
Collum also said she fears for Idaho’s farmers in the event of a trade war, and said if elected lieutenant governor, she will advocate for their interests to the federal government.
Earlier in the week, she tweeted her support of Boise’s declaration of Indigenous Peoples’ Day in lieu of Columbus Day. Collum explained that “The first Americans were indigenous people,” and that “There are things that we have done that are unforgivable. We can never repay that.”