Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
FILE — Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Misty K. Snow meets with supporters at Hires Big H in Salt Lake City on Friday, June 10, 2016.

I am from a working class family, and I know what it feels like to live in poverty. I understand what it’s like to put your dreams on hold because you are barely scraping by. I know what it’s like to be excluded from employment and educational opportunities despite being intelligent and hard-working. I understand the frustration that has led so many people to feel disaffected and disenfranchised by our political system. My experiences have given me a unique empathy and perspective, as well as a determination to help those that need it most. I am determined to help create an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthiest 1 percent of our population.

In the eyes of many working people all across the nation, the American Dream is out of reach. In a country where 51 percent of workers are making less than $30,000 a year, it's not hard to understand why. Working people are barely scraping by, while Wall Street banks are making record profits. The degree of income inequality in our country is continually growing, yet our elected officials do nothing.

Our workers deserve a living wage. It is disturbing that a person working full time on minimum wage cannot sufficiently support their family. It is even more disturbing that the people making low wages are disproportionately women, people of color and members of the LGBT community. I will fight to raise the minimum wage so that we can close wage gaps and give people the ability to support their own families. By gradually raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next few years with an annual adjustment for inflation thereafter, we can lift many out of poverty without creating an undue burden on businesses.

I will fight to ensure that everyone has access to affordable health care. Nearly 30 million people nationwide lack health insurance. In Utah, 350,000 people go without health insurance, including 85,000 children. This is unacceptable. We must work to expand programs like Medicare and Medicaid so that they provide coverage to more people, and continue fighting until everyone has health care coverage. Furthermore we must fight to reduce other costs associated with health care, including the cost for medications.

I will fight to get mothers access to paid maternity leave. We are one of the only countries in the world that does not offer its mothers paid maternity leave. This forces too many women back into the workplace before their bodies have fully recovered, and makes it difficult for mothers to care for their infants. Additionally, this is the primary cause of the United States’ low breastfeeding rate, which contributes to the surprisingly high rates of infant mortality and childhood obesity in our country. If we value the health of our children and our mothers, then we must join the rest of the world in offering our mothers paid maternity leave.

Our country is failing its citizens on issue after issue. Congress is able but unwilling to act on these issues because Congress primarily consists of people who have never been poor and do not understand the needs of the lower and middle classes. I am running for U.S. Senate to change that.

I am unwilling to stand idly by as elected officials fail our communities, and unwilling to settle for an unfair system. I will bring a fresh perspective and a determination to change our country for the better. I will advocate on behalf of the working class, instead of representing the greed of corporations.

There are some that claim that Utah is not ready for a candidate like me, but I strongly disagree. Utah is not only ready but in desperate need of a senator exactly like me. We cannot wait for others to give us equality. We have to claim equality for ourselves. I have the courage and fortitude to fight for economic prosperity and full equality under the law, and I will serve you well as Utah’s next U.S. senator.

Misty Snow is a Utah native who has lived her entire life in Salt Lake County and has a strong connection to this state and its people. She is a Democratic candidate for the United States Senate.