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Meet 8th District Working Class Party candidate Kathy Goodwin

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Michigan's 8th Congressional District is considered a "toss-up" in this year's midterm election, largely due to recently redrawn redistricting maps. There's been a Kildee representing this part of Michigan since 1977, starting with Dale Kildee. Dan Kildee succeeded his uncle in 2013. But with the new lines, the race isn't as clear cut as it might have been in previous years. Reporter Steve Carmody spoke with the candidates running in the district, including Working Class Party candidate Kathy Goodwin. Get to know more about her in the interview below.

Do you live in the 8th District or what will be the 8th District?

Presently, I do not live in the eighth District, but this is my home area. I grew up here and my heart is in the Flint, Saginaw, Bay City area. It made me who I am and I am so attached to this district, so I am happy to run here and try to represent this area.

So you grew up in Flint, Saginaw, or where did you grow up?

I grew up in Montrose, Michigan. I graduated high school at Hill McCloy High School and ever since then, I've gone back regularly. I still have friends and family in the district, and as I'm campaigning, I'm staying with family.

Why do you want to be in Congress?

I want to be in Congress. Not so much to view Congress as a way to change things, I want to use Congress as a platform to address the issues that workers face as a candidate for the Working Class Party. I feel the main political parties kind of mixed up wealthy people, with working class people, and poor people. My ideal political party is one where working class people and poor people are all together and have their interests represented.

Have you ever run for office before?

Yes. I ran for office as the Working Class Party candidate for this general area in 2018 and in 2020. This is my third run.

How do you define the working class people who make up the Working Class Party?

I view the working class very broadly and it's all the people who work for someone else, who draw a paycheck. There are a wide variety of jobs. Myself, I work in health care and I really view myself as an advocate in my job, really helping the people that I work with to understand the health care system, that it's broken and that they really have to stand up for themselves to get good care. Ever since COVID, there's sort of been many systems in our society that were revealed to be falling apart and dysfunctional. So for me, the working people are even more broadly, if someone's a small business owner, they're working for themselves. To me, they're a working class person. They may not view themselves that way. Teachers are working class people. All of the people who are not the CEOs or the stockholders of the corporations, I view that the billionaires and the real owners of all of these businesses that are very, very wealthy have interests directly opposed to the interests of the population and the workers.

And what are some of the things you would like to see Congress do to benefit working class people?

I've really had some heartfelt conversations campaigning with people who are really, really suffering from inflation. The solution, I think, has to be that the minute costs are going up in society, wages have to go up. There has to be a way for people on a fixed income to have their income go up. Right now, the greedy are being rewarded. They're directly taking money from the pockets of the population. There are record profits right now in oil companies, in the food industrial companies. The only way to stop that greed from being rewarded is to have them be punished for raising costs by our wages going up immediately when they raise prices.

Let's stay with the economy. What would you like to see Congress do when it comes to the economy? You mentioned automatic wage increases. What else would you like to see Congress do that would affect the economy?

I think so much of what Congress does now affects the owners of the economy and not the workers of the economy. I was thinking the other day about the CHIPS Act that passed, and the CHIPS Act will give incentives for new technology to be developed. And I think it was, I can't remember the exact figure, but it was quite a few billions of dollars that was set aside for the new microchips. But it's not going to solve the problems consumers have right now, because the shortages we have when we want to buy a new automobile, washer, and dryer, some of the consumer goods that we need, those are the old generation of chips. So this CHIPS Act is passing handouts from our tax money to the corporations that are going to help them to build the superfast chips of the future. And the legislation is sold by Congress as a way of making jobs for people. But there's no guarantee of how many jobs. There's no guarantee that the wages won't be at an affordable rate for a family of four to live on. So the way that Congress functions right now is that it kind of takes care of business. And then if there are some crumbs falling from the table, those go to the working class. What I would like to see in Congress is more and more working class people represent working class interests and have people at the table who are more ordinary people. Right now, all the decisions, all the people at the table are the well-to-do. I'd like to see that change.

What, if anything, would you like to see Congress doing with climate change?

When I talk to working class people, they're very worried about climate change, and they think it's a no-brainer that there would be some kind of renewable energy, but that should be paid for out of the profits that have been amassed for generations from the old fossil fuels industry. But the way that the conversation is set up right now, it looks like ordinary people are going to have to pay a lot of money to make this conversion. I don't think that has to be true. This is the wealthiest country in the world. There are tons of resources that those who have profited from the way the system has been run all these years can be the ones that empty their wallets and their pocketbooks to help us transition to cleaner energy.

Let's talk a little bit about gun control. That’s something that is constantly debated. What are your feelings? Is there something Congress should be doing?

My thoughts on gun control are that there is so much money being made by the manufacturing of armaments industry and by the manufacturing of munitions industry and they’re controlling the whole conversation about gun violence. It's not a question of whether there should be weapons for people who enjoy hunting. I'm from a family where my dad was an expert marksman and he loved competing in trap and skeet shoots. It's a question of the profits that are being made off of so many weapons being available in our society. I'm very upset when I see these mass shootings that happen with the semiautomatic weapons. Being from a hunter's family, where I grew up eating lots of duck and geese and things that my father brought back to the table, I just don't understand why you need a semiautomatic weapon to enjoy sportsmanship. And the proliferation of those weapons has everything to do with maximizing the profits of the gun industry. It has nothing to do with what real people, real working class people, need in this world to enjoy their life.

But is there anything Congress should be doing?

I think that the pressure of the weapons industry is so strong that we would really have to have a mobilization of the population to see the courage on the part of Congress broadly enough to curtail those semiautomatic weapons and to have those limits on magazines. I would be happy to see those things, but I'm realistic that right now we're kind of stuck in the status quo because there isn't a push from the grassroots really demanding it. And for all the change that I believe is possible, it all requires a mobilized working class, a mobilized population, a social movement, basically. So part of my campaign is to let working class people know that I have confidence that when we decide we're ready to stand up and fight in the tradition of Flint, in the tradition of the Flint water crisis, the fight that happened there, to demand that something be done about the lack of the lead in the water. What I learned in high school, in my history classes, the tradition of the Flint sit down strike where when things got too bad in the workplace, workers were able to organize and demand to have a say in how their wages needed to be improved and that their working conditions needed to be improved. I think that the real solution to gun violence is workers fighting because a lot of the gun violence comes from the craziness of this society. All the inequality, all of the institutions that don't work for people. You really have to change the whole society to be able to end the gun violence.

What should Congress do, if anything, when it comes to abortion?

What I have noticed with the campaigning I've done so far is that the 1931 law in Michigan is very much on the minds of the women that I talk to. Me personally, I feel that abortion is a very heartfelt issue for women and for families. I think that everybody has to decide for themselves as an individual how they feel about this question. But from the bottom of my heart, working in health care, knowing how quickly a woman who's starting to get into trouble with her pregnancy can hover near death because she needs to have medical attention, the whole thought that the 1931 ban bars abortion except to save the life of the mother in Michigan is frightening to me. Because the way the health care system works, once she's getting that close to death, it can be very difficult to reverse it. So I believe abortion must be legal in all circumstances. I'm against bans on abortion, and I think that everyone can decide the question for themselves. But for women to be safe in the health care system and even to protect young lives and families, you have to have legal abortion. So if Congress can have a way to have legal abortion in the whole United States, that would be ideal.

We're coming up on the 2022 election. But we still keep talking about the 2020 election. What are your thoughts about the position that some take that the 2020 election wasn't fair?

I believe voting should be as easy as possible. Access to voting is very important. I believe that Biden was elected legitimately, but I can understand how people feel disenfranchised from the election process because they don't really have candidates who speak to their concerns. I understand people coming out of COVID who are distrustful of the government a little bit. I remember when I was younger, I was a little distrustful of vote results until I was a little older and paid more attention to how politics really works. So I could feel for those members of my family that questioned the election results.

But the attack on voter rights really has me upset because I feel like in many ways it's an attack on working people. In some ways it's a racist attack. I don't ever see the same long lines for voting in wealthy areas that I see in poor and working class areas. So opening up voting, opening up absentee voting, having less restrictions, having people have the day off from work so that they don't have to try to finish a 15 hour day like my coworkers do, and then try to figure out when to vote would be important.

This district has undergone a bit of a change. It's been redrawn. Do you think the redistricting has given you a better opportunity to be a successful candidate and potentially win?

I like the redistricting because it gives me a chance to really drive physically to my whole district when before it went so far north. It was really a hard slog to get to the upper reaches of this district. I think that it's a logical, common sense district. It's the way that people who live in this area think of their part of Michigan. I like that it is the same kind of mixture of the old industrial parts of Michigan and the rural working class communities that feed into where the workplaces are. I am pleased with it, and I'm pleased on a certain level with all of the changes in the redistricting. But I'm a little troubled that there was not a way to have a Detroit district that could really represent the black working class in Detroit, that it's a little bit chopped up in Detroit when Detroit is the heart of Michigan. That troubles me that it's not one district.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story mistakenly referred to Republican candidate Paul Junge as the subject of this interview. It has been corrected.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
Taylor Bowie is a senior studying English Literature at the University of Michigan and an intern in the Michigan Radio newsroom. She is originally from Owosso, Michigan.
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