Strictly Stasi
by Anthony Stasi
Jul 21, 2009 | 2926 views | 0 0 comments | 65 65 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Every so often it's good to see which political players are on the rise. It's been about a year since this column focused on the up-and-coming talent around the country. Since April of this year, people who follow politics in detail have become aware of a young woman from what many Americans consider a cold-weather state that may someday lead the Republican Party. She stands pretty firm on conservative values, speaks with charisma, and seems to be rather photogenic. Think you know where this is going?

Marilinda Garcia was elected to the New Hampshire State Legislature in April of 2009 in a special election in New Hampshire's 4th District, or Rockingham County, which includes Salem and Windham. Since New Hampshire voters do not vote in predictable patterns, most districts can be won by a strong candidate, regardless of party affiliation.

"I have had a primary and a general election in all three of my races. It's been tough in each election. New Hampshire has a large number of independent voters," says Garcia.

Garcia ran and won a seat in the legislature a few years ago, and then lost that seat, only to return at the ripe age of 25 years old, to reclaim her place in the New Hampshire State House.

Why is this interesting to New Yorkers? What we see happening in Albany can make any New Yorker look to other states to see how they manage their state houses. New Hampshire, our nation's first primary state, has a part-time legislature. This means that when their legislature - the first one in the country's history where the women outnumber the men (13 to 11) - finishes its work, they actually return to normal life.

"What makes New Hampshire interesting is that we are a part-time citizen legislature," explains Garcia. "Most people have careers in their own time. People can make their own schedule. There are a few of us who are in some institute of higher learning. It's a matter of managing time."

New York's legislature is a full-time legislature, and it still cannot seem to manage time properly.

Garcia graduated from Tufts University with a degree in liberal arts and - at the same time - earned a degree in music from the New England Conservatory of Music. She completed both programs in 2006, and is now earning her master's degree in public policy at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

While we hear on the news each night how lucky we are to have a "wise Latina woman" on the bench of the Supreme Court, Garcia proves that there is really no one way of thinking for any particular group of Americans.

"Well, it's inherent to have a unique perspective on things," says Garcia, "especially in this day and age. You don't have these homogenous groups of people anymore or a particular set of values or perspective on life. I do think that it's possible for any individual to move beyond what society may typecast them as."

Here we see a woman that can handle the intellectual heavy lifting of government while maintaining a very busy personal life. Obviously, not all politicians can handle that, but Garcia is certainly up to the task. The future of the Republican Party belongs to the intellectual side of the party, not so much the populist side.

The war of ideas will be won through debate and sound policy. On the Democratic side, Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone of Somerville, Massachusetts, is making government work again by ushering in a data-driven performance management system called SomerStat that makes sure budgets cover needs, but do not encourage waste.

We will read about people like Garcia in the future. Marilinda Garcia has a busy life, and seems in no rush to outgrow her state and take her show on the road. But there may be a time, after her graduate work at Harvard and after she does all she can do in New Hampshire government when she may just find her national voice. That might be a long time from now, but should she ever think about the big one, the first primary is right in her backyard.

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