Representative Katie Hill holds community swearing-in at Saugus High SchoolRyan Painter February 11, 2019 0 COMMENTS
Rep. Katie Hill (D-Agua Dulce) was officially sworn into the U.S. House of Representatives about five weeks ago, but on Saturday, Hill returned to a different venue —Saugus High School, her alma mater — for a ceremonial swearing-in in front of a crowd of her constituents.
Hill was greeted by over 250 supporters, a figure her staff confirmed, at The Forum, Saugus High School’s new performing arts center. The hour-long ceremony included a multifaceted oath of office, speeches from local representatives and an address from the first-term congresswoman herself.
While Saugus High School may not carry the same level of formality as the chambers of the nation’s highest legislative body, for Hill, The Forum felt just as important.
“The official swearing-in, well it’s very formal, and you’re one of 435 people who are getting sworn-in at the same time, so you are…very aware of the importance that you play in the institution and all of the people who came before you and the significance of the role,” Hill said in an interview with the Proclaimer. “But when you come back here you realize, first of all, where you came from, and that keeps you grounded and keeps you humble, and also who you’re really accountable to, and whose lives can be affected by the policies you make and will be affected by the policies that you make.”
Former Santa Clarita Mayor Frank Ferry initiated the ceremony, recalling Hill’s days at Saugus, during which he served as the school’s assistant principal. Ferry fondly recounted his discussions with a teenage Hill who, as a member of the Saugus Associated Student Body, would frequently come to Ferry to relay questions and concerns on behalf of her classmates.
“I could see her one day serving in the House of Representatives,” Ferry, who often choked back tears during his address, said.
Addison Rivera, a young girl diagnosed with leukemia, then took the stage, detailing her close relationship with Hill, who Rivera said gave her an autograph, FaceTimed her on her birthday and even shared a bowl of mac-and-cheese with her on Election Day.
After a standing ovation for Rivera, Ferry introduced a group of representatives from the Santa Clarita, Simi and Antelope Valleys who would conduct Hill’s swearing-in. Each representative articulated an element of Hill’s Democratic platform — like healthcare, the environment and immigration — asking whether the congresswoman would fight for that issue.
“I promise that I will,” Hill said in response to each.
She reiterated these commitments and thanked those who volunteered for her campaign, many of whom populated the audience, in a 15-minute speech from the podium. She concluded with a call-to-action, reminding her supporters of the impending 2020 election and of the work they would need to do to keep her seat.
Assemblywoman Christy Smith (D-Santa Clarita) gave the ceremony’s final marks, during which she shed some light on the close relationship she shares with the Congresswoman.
“There’s something unique about the dynamic of a political campaign that can either really bond people together or pull them apart, and in the case of me and Katie it was definitely trial by fire and it pulled us closer together,” Smith said in an interview with the Proclaimer. “We both have a fierce commitment to our communities and to our concept of public service and so throughout the process of campaigning together, knowing how shared many of our values were, we’re pretty close.”
Smith recounted an anecdote in which Hill called her while speaking with officials at the Department of Agriculture about wildfires in California. Smith said that their relationship will help to facilitate a more concerted legislative effort between both state and federal bodies and will help to solve problems more efficiently.
“I think the federal, state, and local partnerships are essential to doing well for a community and i think that they’re underutilized,” Hill said in agreement. “Christy’s office, mine and (State Senator) Henry Stern (D-Canoga Park) are all working on the Aliso Canyon issue. I think collaboration is the key to getting things done, especially when there are so many bureaucratic entities that tie into sort of any community problem.”
Hill also said that she has begun to develop a bipartisan relationship with the state-level legislators of the Antelope Valley, most of whom are Republicans. These remarks colored a wider motif of bipartisanship that Hill told the Proclaimer will be crucial to appropriately representing the 25th Congressional District.
“You’re part of a freshman class that is incredibly diverse, right, so there’s some as left as it goes, and then you got people coming from these Trump plus-20 districts that are very conservative on a lot of issues, and I would consider myself just as close to, in terms of personal relationships, to both sides,” she said. “And there are some very conservative Republicans that are more senior members that I’ve begun to develop relationships with and I think that that shows you that there are going to be things that I agree with either of those sides on and piss off the other side.
“I think that’s kind of the reality of not fitting into a box and I’ve always said that you’re not going to put me into a single category and I don’t think that’s what this district is,” Hill said. “I don’t think that people here are just one (side) or the other and what I’ve always said is that I’m going to stay true to my values and best represent this community and what I believe the majority of what people in this community feel, and sometimes that’s going to be more progressive than other people want, and sometimes it’s going to be more conservative than what other people want, and hopefully the average, in the end, balances out.”
Hill said that she hopes that any of her constituents who have an issue, whether they be Democrat or Republican, will reach out to her office for help. All emails and phone calls, she said, are tracked and are factored into the decisions she makes while in Washington, D.C.
“I’m so grateful for this community’s support and I really hope that people feel that they can come to me with any kind of issue, that I will listen and that I’m not set on a certain type of ideology and I’m going to sign onto the things that I believe in that I’m hearing from people on,” she said. “So if you feel strongly about one thing or another, then please reach out.”
Ryan Painter covers government and politics for The Proclaimer. He has worked at the Santa Clarita Valley Signal, the Daily Trojan and as a campaign staffer during 2018 midterm elections. A 2016 West Ranch graduate, Ryan studies Political Science and International Relations at USC. Find him on Twitter @ryan_pintor.