June 04, 2014LANCASTER — Thirty-one-year-old state representative, Marilinda "Mari" Garcia, a Republican of Salem, who was recently named by two "Washington Post" columnists as one of the nation's 40 top emerging politicians under the age of 40, stopped for an interview on a North Country swing as the Memorial Day weekend started on May 24.
"A New Hampshire state representative since she was 23, Garcia is running for Congress in the Second District this year," Washington Post columnists Aaron Blake and Daria Cameron wrote in April. "She's got a contested primary on Sept. 9 and faces a tough race in the general election against first-term incumbent Rep. Ann Kuster. But if she can make it to Congress, expect Republicans to promote her as a voice of the Party's future. She's already been named to the Republican National Committee's list of rising stars."
The two writers didn't mention that Garcia was out of office for a short time after she lost her first reelection bid in 2008, but in 2009 won a seat in a special election.
A graduate of Salem High School who was also home-schooled, Garcia earned a joint degree in 2006 — a B.A. cum laude from Tufts University in Medford, Mass. and a Bachelor's in Music with both Academic Honors and Distinction in Performance in the harp from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston.
Born in Boston, Garcia's family moved to Salem when she was only five years old.
The recipient of a full tuition Public Service Fellowship, Garcia earned a Master's in Public Policy (MPP) in 2010 from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Although she had originally planned on a career as a professional harpist, Garcia said that the many hours of daily practice plus the realization that each orchestra only supports one harpist's chair edged her into choosing to be a semi-professional musician who continues to teach harp and coach ensembles at Granite State independent schools, including Phillips Exeter Academy and St. Paul's in Concord.
Garcia first ran for the House in 2006 to fill a Salem-Windham seat, later redistricted.
Once elected, she was appointed to the House Children and Family Law Committee.
"This Committee deals with very serious personal issues that involve the state's judicial system, and it worked on reorganizing the Family Court system," she explained. "To gain a real understanding of these issues, I received CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) training and worked in the Salem District Court for three years, advocating for what's in the best interest of the child.
Although Garcia thought about going to law school, she instead accepted a full scholarship at the Kennedy School. She used her two years there to more fully understand how to analyze the economic ramifications of public policy. "I learned to think more critically and developed better judgment, including an understanding of the unintended consequences of public policy," Garcia explained. "It was great to go to lectures and read about issues with which I was dealing in Concord."
And her policy studies resulted in her being appointed to the powerful House Finance Committee.
Her legislative priorities include solving the state's "brain drain problem" by seeking long-term economic sustainability based on an innovation economy that supports the growth of small businesses, sparked by incubator enterprises and gaining transparency in health-care pricing and developing a consumer-oriented health-care system with regulatory reform to reduce unneeded bureaucracy in the state's monopolistic environment.
"Health care policy is extremely important," Gracia pointed out. Federal law treats New Hampshire like California, and N.H. has suffered some of the most adverse consequences under the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") because this year only one insurance company serves the exchange for individuals seeking to buy health insurance.
"The state has 26 acute-care hospitals, and seven of the 10 hospitals left out of the state's exchange network are located in the Second District," she said.
Garcia said that the top three issues that impelled her to run for Congress are health care, energy and tax reform.
Corporate taxes are set high but because of loopholes secured by lawyers and lobbyists, only small- and medium-sized companies actually pay them, she said.
The country is on the verge of becoming energy independent, opening the way to more manufacturing jobs, Garcia said. Asked her stance on "fracking," she replied that it must, of course, be done in an environmentally conscious way.
Asked about the proposed Northern Pass project, she said that although it is not a hot-button issue in the southern part of the state she understands the concern of northern New Hampshire residents who believe the proposed tall towers could harm its tourism economy, plus respect for property rights. "Burying the line might be a reasonable solution," Garcia said.
The 2nd C. D. runs from the Mass. border to the Canadian border, meaning that whoever holds the seat must be conversant with all the state's issues, she explained.
Garcia states on her campaign website: "Congress needs a new generation of leaders committed to reform and results. I'm running to be one of those leaders. My goal is to encourage efficient governance through sound fiscal policy and reduced bureaucracy. At a bare minimum, elected officials in Congress should vote to prevent the federal government from being an obstacle to entrepreneurship, innovation, and limited taxation. I believe my record of four terms in the New Hampshire Legislature demonstrates my commitment to this approach, and it is something I would continue in Washington."
Garcia will face former state Sen. Gary Lambert of Nashua in the GOP primary.