Meet State Rep. Mary Hakken-Phillips

Age:

39

Area represented:

Hanover and Lyme (Grafton 12)

Occupation and employer:

Attorney, Tarbell & Brodich, PA

Number of years in NH:

5

Favorite place in NH:

My favorite place in New Hampshire is Hanover – a bustling community at the intersection of the Appalachian Trail, Connecticut River, Dartmouth College, and New England-style politics.

Describe NH in three words:

Community. Nature. Patriotism.

Year first year elected to the legislature:

2020.

Legislative priorities:

My legislative priorities are retaking Democratic control of the New Hampshire House, Senate, Governor’s office, and Executive Council while working towards a more just, equitable, and inclusive State.

What was your path to politics?

My path to politics is grounded in a lifelong interest in politics and the law, springing from as far back as middle school when I served in student government. In high school, I was an American Legion Auxiliary’s Michigan Girls State Delegate. In college, I was as a U.S. Senate Intern in Washington, DC. I’ve volunteered as a grass roots campaigner in County, State, and National elections, including knocking on doors and phone banking for judges, presidents, and policies. My education is in Political Science and Law. I am member of the NH Bar and currently practice Real Estate and Business Law.

I believed 2020 was going to be a milestone year for the Democratic Party to more adequately reflect its base by nominating and electing socially progressive, highly qualified women, LGBTQ+ and BIPOC to NH government. I believe Science, facts, logic and reasoning should be driving policy-making. I believe in the rule of law. I believe people like me need representation in all levels of government. And, I believe there is no time like the present – so I ran for office.

What barriers did you face running for office? How did you overcome them?

The biggest barrier I faced running for office was a crowded field. I had a competitive primary with 9 candidates on the ballot (although one dropped before election day). There were so many qualified candidates who were deeply passionate about New Hampshire. Luckily, I advanced to the general election by staying active with the local Party, relying on my previous grassroots campaign experiences, preparing my thoughts in advance of Party events, and supporting my positions with data and well-informed arguments.

What is the most pressing issue facing young people in NH?

The most pressing issue facing young people in NH is the pandemic. COVID-19 will continue to put pressure on affordable housing, education, employment, healthcare, student loan debt, and voting rights. In order to address our State’s greatest concerns, we need a healthy electorate and economy. That requires people getting vaccinated, wearing masks, washing hands, and staying socially distant to reduce infection rates and prevent unnecessary deaths.

How could NH be made even better for young people?

Improving New Hampshire for young people requires young people to get involved. The more representation of younger people on nonprofit boards, corporate boards, school boards, select boards, private associations and government at all levels will naturally lead to addressing the concerns of young people. The gap between young people’s aspirations and our current society can be filled by using our voices in all places where decisions are being made.

What advice do you have for other young people considering running for office?

Please don’t wait for someone to tell you that you’re ready or that you’re experienced enough. Find your support system and run for office. If you care about policy, you are enough.

How can the state legislature be more supportive in encouraging more young people to run for office?

The NH Legislature can be more supportive in encouraging more young people to run for office by dispelling with the notion that NH has a part-time legislature. After two months of session, I can attest that the job of a NH State Representative is nearly full-time with odd evening hours and weekend overtime. By insisting that this is a part-time legislative body, NH props up an elitist form of government where those who don’t have flexible work hours and supportive childcare are excluded. If only retirees and independently wealthy legislators are creating policy, then the rest of the State will never be adequately represented. If a diversity of voices is omitted from the NH State House, then the Granite State is only hurting itself. NH needs to pay a livable wage to lawmakers and offer childcare, so that our legislators and legislation more accurately reflects a cross-section of our population.

Can you recommend a resource for young people that are interested in learning more about politics, policy and bills, or advocacy?

Staying informed isn’t easy and there is no one stop shop. The best resources for young people interested learning more about politics, policy, and advocacy are: your local party office, independent news publication, and public radio station.

For fun, tell us something about yourself that others may not know!

I enjoy running, and walking my two rescue dachshunds.

[Also, I’m running out of time on the “Under 40” label. I turn 40 in a couple months.]

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