Retired Marine officer running for 1st Congressional District seatBy KEVIN LANDRIGAN
New Hampshire Union Leader
October 22. 2017 10:33PM
A retired Marine officer and former Obama administration official is the latest Democrat to declare she’s running for the First Congressional District seat to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, D-N.H.
Maura Sullivan, 38, of Portsmouth, has never run for elective office and said she wouldn’t have thought about doing so now until Shea-Porter announced nearly three weeks ago that she’ll end her U.S. House service in 2018.
“Throughout my adult life I have been deeply committed to public service. I was as a Marine and I was in a position of leadership in the VA (Veteran’s Administration),” Sullivan said.
“In talking with people in my community, I am hearing that they are very concerned about the direction of the country. There’s a crisis of leadership in the country and a new generation of leaders need to step up and serve.”
Sullivan only moved to New Hampshire earlier this summer, but insisted she and her husband are committed to becoming permanent residents here.
“Portsmouth is my home; it is where Mark and I have chosen to lay down our roots and hope to raise my family,” Sullivan said. “I came here a little over 10 years ago and returned because this is a great place to raise kids as well. We are really looking forward to that.”
An Illinois native, Sullivan said Shea-Porter was the first candidate she went door-to-door for in that first upset win in 2006.
Only a year earlier, Sullivan had been in a Marine unit stationed in Iraq.
“I have a deep respect for Congresswoman Carol-Shea Porter. She ran as a party outsider and was passionate about her opposition to the war in Iraq,” Sullivan recalled.
“I saw firsthand the devastating consequences of failed leadership in Iraq and Congresswoman Shea-Porter stood up strongly for her views. That is something I have always admired and deeply respected about her.”
Sullivan said she’d work to get New Hampshire a full-service hospital and said she helped lead an agency “through crisis” while serving as an assistant secretary for public and intergovernmental affairs at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“I served on the leadership team in the VA. New Hampshire has one of the greatest per capita percentages of veterans in the country, and they need a full-service hospital. I would argue tirelessly for that on behalf of the veterans in the state,” Sullivan said.
Last week, former Strafford County Attorney and ex-Somersworth Mayor Lincoln Soldati became the first Democrat to say he’s definitely running. Rochester City Attorney Terence O’Rourke of Alton has created an exploratory committee for a 2018 bid.
Executive Councilor Chris Pappas, D-Manchester, said he’ll decide whether to run soon after the municipal elections on Nov. 7.
Other Democrats who have said they are considering a bid include former New Hampshire AFL-CIO President Mark MacKenzie, Somersworth Mayor Dana Hilliard, first-term state Rep. Mindi Messmer of Rye, six-term state Rep. Robert “Renny” Cushing of Hampton and former Portsmouth City Councilor Stefany Shaheen.
Sullivan said the top three issues facing New Hampshire are the opioid crisis, the need to create more and better-paying jobs and access to quality public education.
“While at the VA I saw what the opioid crisis and substance abuse was doing to families. We’ve got to provide better access to care, prevention and treatment,” Sullivan said.
Most recently Sullivan served in the Pentagon as assistant to the secretary of defense for public affairs.
She’s has an undergraduate degree from Northwestern University with a master of business administration from the Harvard Business School and a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.