Marilinda Garcia says the people no longer trust their government.
“There is a complete lack of trust,” Garcia said. “The relationship between the citizens and government has broken down.”
The four-term state representative from Salem is seeking the Republican nomination to the 2nd Congressional District seat.
Citizens do not believe they can have an open debate, she said, and instead those in Congress will deceive the public and pass whatever mandate they want like the Affordable Care Act.
She also points to the Internal Revenue Service scandal, which targeted conservative groups for heightened scrutiny.
“There is a general sense federal officials don’t care about us,” Garcia said.
Unlike those currently holding national office, she says she will tell people her position on issues and will not be swayed by public opinion polls or special interests.
Garcia was criticized back home in Salem this past session for not supporting two bills that proposed casino gambling, which many in town see as the salvation of Rockingham Park.
She was criticized when she voted against one of the bills and again when she missed a vote.
“I’ve been very straightforward about my position on gambling,” the 31-year-old Garcia said in a recent visit with the New Hampshire Union Leader. “When I first campaigned, I said I opposed (casino gambling) and it was on my website.”
The Republican National Committee last year named Garcia as a member of its new “Rising Stars” initiative, and she is active with the Republicans’ GOPAC Hispanic Leadership Training Institute.
She is proud to wear the moniker Millennial and her campaign reaches out to people in non-traditional ways and to those not normally on the county committee picnic circuit.
One way to broaden her appeal is entering 5K road races with her volunteers and supporters wearing her campaign T-shirt. “That’s a way to interact with not the usual people,” she said.
For the past two terms in the House, Garcia was on the Finance Committee, including 2011 when lawmakers crafted a balanced budget but slashed funding for higher education, popular health and human service programs like Children in Need of Services and uncompensated care for hospitals.
“New Hampshire faced a real economic crisis with a historic budget deficit,” Garcia said. “But we produced a balanced budget that was responsible and fair. I was proud to be part of that,”
She also is proud of her involvement with health care reform working with stakeholders including hospitals, insurance companies, patients and physicians.
The group gathered data on pricing and quality in an attempt to bring transparency and equity to the system. “It was great to see people work to identify the problems and challenges and to propose innovation solutions,” Garcia said. “We were getting somewhere and then the ACA passed and everybody’s attention turned to the federal government.”
State flexibility and autonomy are gone, she maintains.
The free market will not be allowed to do its work, Garcia said.
She noted that during the first year of Obamacare, 10 of the state’s 26 hospitals were excluded from the network of the only health insurer, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, on the state electronic marketplace.
Seven of the excluded hospitals are in the 2nd Congressional District, she said.
Garcia faces one-term former state Sen. Gary Lambert of Nashua in the primary along with former Rep. Jim Lawrence of Hudson. The winner will face incumbent Democrat Rep. Ann McLane Kuster.
The three Republican candidates all wear the conservative mantle, but Garcia said she disagrees with Lambert on energy.
“I don’t support cap and trade,” she said. “It raises taxes for New Hampshire consumers to feed the special interests and cronyism.”
Innovative energy programs should be tested in the free market not through government sponsorship, Garcia said.
She points to the Solyndra scandal. The company received $500 million in federal subsidies before filing for bankruptcy.
Lambert was a key vote in the state Senate on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in 2011 when the heavily Republican Legislature tried to repeal it. Lambert voted against repeal although he backed reforming the program to reduce air emissions in the Northeast.
“I do not want to give government a blank check,” Garcia said. “I do not want government to come into every aspect of our lives and mandate something that is not affordable.”
Similarly, she criticized Lambert for voting against a bill that would have required legislative approval before adopting the Common Core education standards.
She said she believes in representative democracy and local control.
“I want each parent and each school district to have control and students to have the most educational opportunities possible available to them,” she said.
A musician and adjunct music teacher at several private schools, Garcia said it is important for students to be exposed to music, the arts, English, math and science, but she contends public schools are not getting the job done.
“There are many other different ways for kids to be exposed to music and the arts,” she said.
Garcia also criticized the government’s approach to immigration reform and used the current crisis of young people flooding across the border as an example of the government’s malaise.
The federal government has allowed the problems to fester and escalate for years, she said, and then wants to do a major reform that will have disastrous unintended results.
Instead of major reform the problems should be handled one piece at a time, she said.