Nashua, NH – This morning, Congresswoman Kuster, local elected officials, and business leaders met in Nashua to pledge support for passenger rail to Nashua and beyond, if the feasibility study results in a positive recommendation. The group sent a clear message that we must improve the state’s transportation infrastructure to create a better business environment and expand New Hampshire’s economy – and any candidate running for federal office should support these efforts.
On October 9th, at the Nashua Chamber of Commerce’s Candidates Forum, Tea Party candidate Marilinda Garcia demonstrated a shocking lack of knowledge about the possible expansion of passenger rail into Nashua and beyond. When asked about the project, which is widely recognized as one of the single most important issues facing the Nashua region and which experts say could provide a significant boost to the local economy, Garcia said she was unfamiliar with the project, and told the moderator she needed to “get back to you about that.”
Garcia’s unfamiliarity with the project is particularly interesting, considering that while serving in the state legislature, she repeatedly voted to block the rail project from moving forward. Garcia has a history of voting against projects her constituents support; she famously blocked casino gambling in the state despite the fact that 81 percent of her Salem constituents were in support.
But Kuster knows how important passenger rail is to the Nashua and state economy. Today, Kuster presented leaders and reporters with an open letter calling on Garcia to pledge to fight for federal funding if the project is deemed feasible:
A Pledge to Fight for the Nashua Economy
An Open Letter by Congresswoman Annie Kuster
When I first came to office last year, I saw that many hardworking New Hampshire families were still hurting from the economic downturn. I knew we needed to shore up our local economy, so that here in the Granite State – regardless of what happened nationally – our families’ economic security would be protected.
That’s why I’ve made numerous visits to Nashua, New Hampshire’s economic engine. I’ve visited businesses throughout the community, hearing directly from owners and employees about how Congress could help them grow.
What I’ve heard from Nashua business leaders, though, may be surprising. Obviously cutting taxes and easing regulatory burdens continues to be a top priority, but the most common feedback I’ve received from business leaders in Nashua is that we must improve the state’s transportation infrastructure if we want to create more jobs.
Nashua is New Hampshire’s innovation hub – new businesses pop up all time, and the city is helping lead our state’s manufacturing renaissance. But without proper infrastructure, these companies won’t be able to access the workers, suppliers, and customers they need to be successful. That’s why business leaders throughout the Southern Tier are looking to their political leaders to push for one of the most important economic development projects of our time: the expansion of passenger rail into the Granite State.
Expanding rail has the potential to infuse billions of dollars into our economy, and create thousands of new jobs. Nashua companies facing hiring difficulties will be able to attract new talent, and expanding businesses will be encouraged to set up shop here. What’s more, commuter rail would help ease our heavily congested roads, and make it easier for companies to ship their products in a timely manner.
Expanded passenger rail enjoys widespread support throughout the Southern Tier, and a feasibility study is currently underway to determine the best course of action for implementation. However, we can’t just sit and wait for the project to be approved – I want to be ready to hit the ground running as soon as the study is completed.
That’s why I’ve been taking steps in Congress to push forward programs that would help make the rail project possible. I’m working with Republicans and Democrats to create a new infrastructure bank, which would leverage private funds for investments in infrastructure—at no cost to taxpayers. And I’ve held roundtable discussions and meetings with businesses like Parallel Wireless, BAE, and Cirtronics to learn how rail would benefit them. I know what this project means to Nashua, to the Southern Tier, and to the entire Granite State economy, and I’ve been laying the groundwork to move it forward during my past two years in office.
That’s why I was honestly shocked to hear my opponent’s response to questions about commuter rail during a recent Nashua Chamber of Commerce Candidates Forum. Not only did she refuse to pledge support for the project, she claimed to have no knowledge of it! This absolutely floors me. As someone who has been hearing from our state’s business leaders for years – since before I even came to office – about the critical importance of commuter rail to our economy, how can a candidate running to represent the Granite State in Congress claim to have no familiarity with this vital project?
If you dig a little deeper into my opponent’s record, you’ll see that while serving in the state legislature, she actually voted repeatedly to block the commuter rail project from moving forward. So it seems that perhaps she was being a bit disingenuous when claiming to have no familiarity with the project.
But lets’ give her the benefit of the doubt. As she said during the forum, “no one is an expert on everything.” But here’s what I want to know – now that Rep. Garcia has presumably been filled in on the details, will she now pledge to fight for federal funding for the rail project?
Marilinda Garcia claims she’s running for office to support Granite Staters’ best interests, and we all know that the number one priority Granite Staters care about is job creation. This project, if deemed feasible, could create thousands of new jobs. Knowing that, will she admit she was wrong to vote against this project, and join me in pledging to help bring commuter rail to Nashua?
I call on Marilinda Garcia to prove that she’s running for office for the right reasons: to fight for the things that Granite Staters care about and support a project that would create thousands of jobs for New Hampshire. If the feasibility study shows that this project makes sense, I call on Marilinda Garcia to put the New Hampshire economy before her extreme ideology and pledge to stand with me to fight for rail funding in Washington. I eagerly await her response.
Congresswoman Annie Kuster is running for reelection in the Second Congressional District of New Hampshire. She is running against an extreme Tea Party candidate, Marilinda Garcia.