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Another political meet and greet in Billings

July 18, 2019
Wilmot Collins is running for US Senate against Steve Daines.

July 18, 2019

Wilmot Collins, mayor of Helena, Montana, is running for US Senate against Steve Daines, incumbent Republican.  That’s pretty much all I knew about him before P. and I drove to a local meet and greet at the “Agada Integrated Wellness”  in Billings at noon today.

Just getting to the meeting proved challenging.  Second Avenue North was blocked off for construction, so I had to take Montana Avenue.  

Only a long slow train was headed east, blocking the way to the southside, so the street intersecting Montana Ave. had a perpetual red light.  We were back almost a block, almost back to 1st Ave N., so I boldly drove up the left side of the street (against the lane of traffic, which had no cars in it) and turned left against the red light onto Montana Ave.  P.  was aghast, called me any number of names and wouldn’t let up until I admitted to being a bad person.  Once at the address (2409 2nd Ave N) we couldn’t figure out how to find the meeting.  Adrian Jawort appeared on the sidewalk and helped us figure it out.  Or maybe we helped Adrian.  I was confused.

But I digress.  We walked into Agada past a massage table into a small gymnasium. About a dozen, or so, women sat in chairs on the perimeter.

According to an article in Slate, Mr. Collins, 55 years old, got nationally known a couple years ago because he was a Liberian refugee and the first Black to win a mayoral election in a major Montana city.  He might be the first Black to win a mayoral election in any Montana city.  His platform against a four-term incumbent was largely to protect essential municipal services.

Now he is running for Senate.  He seemed conversant with major issues of interest to Democrats:  Health care, veterans affairs, the environment.  He didn’t do a lot of speaking.  When he invited the women in the room to voice their concerns the first woman spoke at length of the MMIW (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women) epidemic.  Mr. Collins listened carefully and patiently to the speaker who was passionately and personally invested in this important issue. He listened for perhaps 10 minutes without expressing impatience.

Another woman spoke of the huge expense to provide insulin to her child with type 1 diabetes.  Another spoke of the nearly hopeless debt load college graduates carry. Another spoke about the need to ban military assault rifles used in school shootings and elsewhere.

He expressed solidarity with labor unions. He did not chime in affirmatively when I suggested the need for gun control. Instead, he advocated better mental health services.

He wore light blue slacks, a navy blazer and white shirt with no tie.  I had on a “Kathleen Williams for Congress” teeshirt and shorts.  

When we shook hands, Mr. Collins admired my teeshirt.

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