Garcia stops at paper mill

Candidate talks health care, money

Marilinda Garcia of Salem, who is seeking the Republican nomination for the Second Congressional District seat, chats with Richard Verney, owner of the Monadnock Paper Mill, during a campaign swing through the region on Tuesday.

Marilinda Garcia of Salem, who is seeking the Republican nomination for the Second Congressional District seat, chats with Richard Verney, owner of the Monadnock Paper Mill, during a campaign swing through the region on Tuesday. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

BENNINGTON — Congressional hopeful Marilinda Garcia didn’t get to meet with many voters outside the Monadnock Paper Mills, but she did share her views with the company’s chairman, Richard Verney, during a campaign stop on Tuesday.

Garcia, 31, is a Salem Republican who has served four terms in the N.H. House of Representatives. Now she’s running for the Republican nomination to face off against incumbent Democrat Annie Kuster for New Hampshire’s Second District Congressional seat.

As a young woman of Hispanic origin, Garcia was recognized in 2013 as a “rising star” by the Republican National Committee. She calls herself as a “new generation conservative,” who would aim to reduce Federal spending, repeal the Affordable Care Act and reform the nation’s tax code.

“As a whole, we weathered the recession in New Hampshire,” Garcia told Verney during their discussion of the state’s economy. “I’m not sure, though, when it comes to health care and energy, that we have a clear approach. The interaction between the state and federal governments hasn’t been friendly. We need to cultivate an atmosphere so companies can stay here and grow.”

Verney told Garcia that New Hampshire has few paper mills left because of the high cost of energy and the challenge of foreign competition.

“When you look at attracting business, the state could be more welcoming,” he said. “Sometimes we make the mistake of thinking the salvation of our state is just tourism. We forget that manufacturing has a part to play.”

“We seem to be missing the middle market part of the labor force, people with the technical component to fill great jobs,” Garcia said. “As a culture, we’ve promoted the four-year liberal arts degree, but it’s not realistic, it’s difficult to afford, and it’s not for everyone.”

As they concluded their talk, Verney gave Garcia some words of support in her quest for a job in Washington. “I think you’re a breath of fresh air,” he said. “I hope at the end of the day, you’ll be heading south.”

Outside the mill, as she waited to greet workers changing shifts, Garcia said she would focus, if elected, on reducing the impact of the federal government on people’s lives.

“The government is constantly encroaching,” she said. “People aren’t able to be stewards of their own resources.”

A high priority, Garcia said, would be to reform the health-care system to provide more transparency.

“In my view, the way to go is to move to a more consumer-oriented model, not to be forced into a one-size-fits-all. Decisions about health care are best done as close to home as possible.”

Garcia noted that seven of the 10 hospitals that are currently excluded from the only network providing coverage in New Hampshire under the Affordable Care Act are in the Second District, which is why so many voters she speaks to are upset.

“The Affordable Care Act was sold, basically, on false premises,” she said. “I think that needs to be changed.”

Garcia’s said her mother is from Italy and her father is of Hispanic background and was raised in Albuquerque, N.M. “I think his people were here before the Mayflower,” she said.

Garcia was born in Boston and the family moved to New Hampshire when she was 5 years old. She has bachelor’s degrees from both Tufts University and the New England Conservatory of Music and a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. She is an accomplished harpist who teaches music as an adjunct professor at Phillips Exeter Academy, and St. Paul’s School.

Garcia is engaged to be married, with a wedding planned for November after the election.

In order to run against Kuster, Garcia will have to defeat Gary Lambert, a former state senator, and Jim Lawrence, a former state representative, in the Republican primary on Sept. 9. Garcia said she is expecting to participate in at least one debate against Lambert prior to the primary.

The three Republicans have far less cash available for their campaigns than does Kuster. According to financial reports recently released by the Federal Elections Commission, Lambert had $305,900 cash on hand at the end of the second quarter, while Garcia had $124,605 and Lawrence, who entered the race just prior to the filing deadline, had $22,600. But Kuster had $1,736,957 available to spend.

A poll taken in April by the University of New Hampshire survey center showed Garcia running neck and neck with Kuster, although a more recent UNH poll shows Kuster moving ahead as fewer voters remain undecided. The April poll showed Kuster with 34 percent, Garcia with 33 percent and 32 percent undecided. The poll taken between June 19 and July 1 shows Kuster at 49 percent, Garcia at 33 percent, with 15 percent undecided.

If the race is between Kuster and Lambert, the latest UNH poll shows Kuster ahead by a margin of 45 percent to 36 percent, with 18 percent undecided.

Despite the poll results — and a lack of enthusiasm among the few workers going in and out of the paper mill on Tuesday — Garcia said she is confident. “I’m trying to bring a new perspective and take a fresh approach,” she said. “I’m finding an overwhelmingly positive feedback.”

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