Primary 2014: A Conversation With U.S. House Candidate Marilinda Garcia
Marilinda Garcia is in her fourth term serving the town of Salem in the New Hampshire House of Representatives.
She's among the Republicans running in New Hampshire's 2nd Congressional District.
Why are you running?
One of the biggest challenges we have right now in our country is that there’s a complete breakdown of trust between our elected officials and our citizens. I hear that from residents across the district and the state. It used to be that people thought I don’t necessarily trust politicians, but now it’s an instance where they have actual evidence. Within the latest spate of scandals from the Obama administration, be it what happened with the IRS, the incompetence and lack of accountability within the VA, the attempted cover up and aftermath of the incident in Benghazi, and then of course Obamacare. People like to debate policy, they have no problem with that. They can understand if people have opposing views, but when you foist something upon the American people based on a false premise and sold on basically lies, that’s really problematic.
Let’s talk about some of those specific issues you are hearing about on the campaign trail. What are their top issues?
Jobs and the economy, as would be expected is of primary concern. Then health care, education. But again, their concern is that control and decision making power is being taken away from them.
Your opponent has criticized you for votes that you have missed during your time in the House, specifically missing a vote on Medicaid expansion, which you did speak out against. How do you respond to that?
I’ve served four terms as a state legislator. We are a volunteer legislature. It’s no excuse, I’m sorry I missed any votes whatsoever. But I did work a number of jobs and have been in grad school. It’s a challenge, but overall I have an above average voting record and attendance record. I’m proud of what I was able to accomplish. I’m sorry I missed some votes, but I think it’s being used to make political hay. It’s not as if I have a shoddy voting record.
But you would say that was a fairly large vote?
Sure. I was there through the committee process and voted on it in committee and did speak to it.
What’s your take on the ongoing debate over immigration reform?
It’s become something where as with health care, there’s this approach of comprehensive reform is always put before us and rushed through the process. When it’s comprehensive, it means it’s enormous in scope and there are some good things that are actual targeted reforms and then there are some things people simply can’t support because they’ve campaigned that way. So you end up with a situation where people that vote for it are considered traitors and people that vote against it are seen as obstructionists and then you have a “do nothing Congress,” as everybody likes to say. I would love to try to be a part of targeted reforms to some of the very specific issues at hand.
Any specifics in that idea?
The first is of course I oppose amnesty. American citizens were born here, they have that right. And then there are many, many people that have been dotting every “I” and crossing every “T” in terms of being here in a legal fashion and going through the process that we have for citizenship. But it’s gotten out of hand and we can’t all of a sudden just because we have a humanitarian crisis or some sense of urgency to put other people at the front of the line. Everybody has to go to their proper place in the back of the line. And also to prevent another crisis from popping up, we absolutely have to secure our border.
Let’s talk foreign policy for a moment. What’s your opinion of the administration’s actions in the Middle East?
The fact of the matter is, was going into Iraq in the first place a good idea? Obviously, that’s open to debate. Was the surge something that worked? People agree that it did. Was American war weary? Yes, it was. We wanted our troops to come home. But when you just make it a political point, which I believe the president did, that he was going to bring everybody home come hell or high water, that’s just what was going to happen, then I think he’s allowed the situation we’re seeing today. There was a vacuum. There was not a status of forces agreement. We left basically an unstable situation and that’s now turned into total chaos. Unfortunately, while I think we’re doing the right thing by air strikes and humanitarian aid to help some of those refugees in a very desperate situation, their lives at risk, I do think now when I hear military experts say sadly, we may have to bring troops back there. That’s what we were trying to avoid in the first place.
When you announced you were running, you had said you wanted to bring more diversity to a party that’s populated with “mostly old white men.” Why do you think that diversity has been really difficult to attain in the party?
I was actually quoting what I think is a stereotype, so that isn’t necessarily my thought of the party. And being a member of the party, that’s clearly not an old white man, it rings true to me more than probably anybody else. But I would say I think we’ve had a communication problem. You can only relate to people if you understand them, you know, share their perspective and are willing to talk about things in a not highly politicized fashion. I’ve had that experience serving in the New Hampshire legislature, where you actually go knock on doors and talk to people one-on-one about the issues that concern them. I think in Washington, for whatever reason, those that have been in the media or are highlighted the most saying frankly some very stupid things, it’s created a very poor stereotype and perception. But the fact is there are many of us on the ground that promote the values and ideals of individual liberty, personal responsibility, small government, local control. Our voices just aren’t necessarily being heard, so I would love to participate in helping to communicate and helping to spread the message.
Listen to the radio version of this interview, edited for time:
Listen to the longer, unedited version of this interview: