I recently interviewed U.S. Senate candidate Kimberly Graham. I’m pleased to announce that I am endorsing Kimberly for U.S. Senate.
Kimberly Graham is running a campaign “by the people, for the people,” and it will be paid for by the people (NOT by corporate PACs, the NRA, or the Koch brothers). She will represent the majority, not the rich minority.
Kimberly is running for U.S. Senate because she has seen the rich get richer while the working class gets poorer. She understands for the system to change we need more people in Congress from working-class backgrounds.
Kimberly lived in Indianola for 24 of the last 25 years and moved to the south side of Des Moines to be closer to work now that her son has left for college. Her father was one of eleven siblings that lived in central Iowa. Her father was a Marine and later a bridge-builder. Her mother worked as a clerk at a phone company. Kimberly grew up in a working-class union household.
At a young age, Kimberly worked first as a dry cleaner, a waitress, a store clerk, and a housecleaner. She knew that she wanted to help lift people up so that they could have a better living. Therefore, she went to college to get a law degree so that she could advocate for abused and neglected kids in court.
Because Kimberly grew up in a working-class household she worked her way through college and supplemented that with a student loan. She left law school with $80,000 in debt.
Living in rural Iowa, she witnessed furniture, clothing, shoe stores, and other small businesses close down, while big fast-food and mega-stores opened up in their stead.
Kimberly sees farmers struggling because of the increasing costs while being paid less for their crops. Kimberly believes that farmers deserve and need a fair and level playing field to be able to survive and to gain a real chance to thrive.
Kimberly has seen firsthand how health care costs have risen. She understands that as health care costs rise more families are unable to access the care they need. She understands that as the costs rise people with a serious illness cannot get the care they need and have gone bankrupt trying to pay for their care.
In her work as an attorney, Kimberly has seen the opioid and meth epidemics rip families apart and destroy communities.
She has seen veterans return from service, experiencing trauma and not receive the services they need because the VA is not adequately staffed and funded.
Kimberly knows Iowans deserve better.
Kimberly is running for U.S. Senate to advocate for major campaign finance reform and sweeping anti-corruption legislation to return the power to the working class. She understands that for us to win, we must get Big Money OUT of politics to create a fair and level playing field for Iowans.
Now that you understand who Kimberly Graham is, here is what she will fight for in the U.S. Senate.
I asked her what she would do to lower the costs of healthcare and provide universal healthcare to all. She told me that she supports single payer healthcare. Kimberly believes that if we have access to the care we need, we will be able to live happier and healthier lives with less stress.
Kimberly supports the Green New Deal because she recognizes that climate change is an existential threat to humanity. This is why she also supports the creation of a task force to lay out the parameters and enforcement of the Green New Deal.
I asked Kimberly where she stands on the legalization of cannabis and I am happy to report that she supports the decriminalization of cannabis and she is a strong supporter of the legalization of medical cannabis. She believes that if your doctor prescribes you cannabis because the doctor deems it is medically necessary for you, that the government has no right to stand in the way.
Kimberly supports College for All and student debt cancellation. I am proud to say that Kimberly believes that income should not stand in the way of getting the education that one needs or wants. She also supports ensuring that the working class is not crushed by student loan debt and she shared with me her plan to combat our nation’s student loan debt crisis.
She recognizes that our current student loan system has failed our students. Instead of assisting students so they can access the higher education that they need and want to better their lives, the system has exploited and crushed students and their families.
As a first-generation college student, she has experienced first hand the financially crushing student loan debt. She left school with $80,000 in debt. After 20 years of paying income-based repayments, she still owes over $234,000 (much more than she originally owed 20 years ago).
Kimberly’s plan to combat this student debt crisis includes:
- Roll back the loans to what students owed when they graduated;
- Deduct the repayments made from that amount;
- Add a small and reasonable amount of interest;
- Freeze that balance so no more interest accrues;
- Forgive up to $50,000 of what’s left;
- The student repays the amount that remains.
Under Kimberly’s plan, I would owe $0. Currently, I owe about $40,000 in student loan debt.
Kimberly understands that combating the student loan debt is not the end all be all for my generation and the working class across Iowa and the nation. That’s why she supports and will vote for a $15 minimum wage to lift up the working people.
I am a transgender woman and thus, LGBTQIA+ issues are important to me. Therefore, I asked about her stances on a number of LGBTQIA+ issues.
Iowa has led the nation in protecting and advancing civil rights and liberties. Iowa was a leader in providing LGBTQIA+ equality by expanding the Iowa Civil Rights Act in 2007 to include gender identity and sexual orientation. Iowa led the nation in providing safe learning environments with the passage of the Safe Schools Act. Iowa also led the nation when the Iowa Supreme Court unanimously ruled in 2009 in favor of marriage equality.
Nevertheless, Iowa has room to improve on protecting civil rights and liberties for transgender, intersex, and nonbinary people. Furthermore, federally LGBTQIA+ people lack nondiscrimination protections.
Therefore, I asked Kimberly about what she will do to protect LGBTQIA+ people from discrimination. She said that she will fight for us by supporting and advocating for the passage of the Equality Act, which would add gender identity and sexual orientation to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. She also said that she will fight to pass the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment).
I reminded Kimberly that while the Equality Act does provide basic civil rights that there are many other areas that need to be addressed.
Another area includes ensuring that the Voting Rights Act is enforced and that Voter ID [laws and requirements] are ended. Across the nation and here in Iowa, state lawmakers attacked transgender, intersex, and nonbinary peoples’ right to vote by enacting Voter IDs, which require the gender to match that on the government issued photo ID. However, in many cases, transgender, intersex, and nonbinary people are unable to update their gender on official government documents.
Kimberly indicated that she opposes Voter IDs. She said that these kinds of laws were passed in search of a problem that doesn’t exist. She said that she would instead support the Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Voting Rights Amendment Act which would restore the Voting Rights Act.
We also spoke about the attacks on transgender, intersex, and nonbinary peoples’ right to use the restroom. In several states, lawmakers have tried (in North Carolina they were successful) to ban transgender, intersex, and nonbinary people from using the restroom that matches their gender identity and instead forces them to use the restroom that matches the sex on their birth certificate. Additionally, a couple of states including South Dakota attempted to pass laws that would prohibit transgender, intersex, and nonbinary student-athletes from the same opportunities and programs as their cisgender peers.
Kimberly indicated that she opposes these efforts and that she believes that these laws are also in search of a problem that doesn’t exist. She will fight these discriminatory laws.
Iowa has one of the nation’s most comprehensive anti-bullying and anti-harassment laws. However, there are still no federal laws protecting LGBTQIA+ students from discrimination, harassment, or bullying. This contributes to the LGBTQIA+ suicide rate, the highest suicide rate in the nation.
I told Kimberly about 13-year-old Jon Carmichael who lost his life to suicide as a result of the bullying and harassment he faced daily in school. Football players at Jon’s middle school attacked him in the locker room, stripped him naked, tied him up, placed him in a trash bin, and called him a “fag,” “queer,” and a “homo,” while being videotaped and later posted on YouTube. This happened in 2010 and continues to happen to this day.
Kimberly said she will not stand for this. She will work to combat bullying and harassment in schools. She will support the Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA) and the Student Nondiscrimination Act (SNDA).
I also asked Kimberly if she would oppose Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military and she indicated that she will fight to overturn it.
Lastly, I asked her about the recent attacks on transgender, intersex, and nonbinary peoples’ ability to access healthcare.
The Iowa Supreme Court in a unanimous ruling in March said Iowa Medicaid cannot exclude coverage for medically necessary gender-affirming surgery. The Iowa legislature a month later passed a law that amended the Iowa Civil Rights Act’s protections against discrimination in public accommodations. The new law created a new exception that allows Iowa Medicaid to deny coverage to transgender, intersex, and nonbinary people for their medically necessary gender-affirming surgery.
Kimberly said that she believes the state’s actions are discriminatory and that she believes that if a doctor says a treatment is medically necessary then the government has no right to stand in the way. She also said that any healthcare plan (such as Medicare for All/Single payer) must include a clause requiring the coverage of all medically necessary care including gender-affirming surgery.