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The Next N.H. Legislature Will Be Younger, More Diverse

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Last session, in a body of 400, there were just 23 state representatives under the age of 35.

But Democrats and Republicans who pay attention to the demographics of the State House say the next legislative session will see a boost in younger folks, including 42 representatives under the age of 40.

"What we're starting to see in New Hampshire, we're seeing people from all walks of life," said Manny Espitia, a 29-year-old Democrat newly elected to represent Nashua. "Of all different ages joining the New Hampshire State House because they want to see their community represented or they to make a difference in their community,” Espitia said.

Lucas Meyer is president of the New Hampshire Young Democrats. He says, it’s exciting to see more young people in office, but it’s also about making systemic reforms “to lower barriers to public service in our State House.”

For example, Meyer said, that with more young parents in office needing childcare, maybe there will be more access to that for state representatives.

Espitia said he hopes the results of this year's elections will encourage even more young people from diverse backgrounds to run in 2020.

He points to Melanie Levesque as an example of that. She’ll be New Hampshire's first black state senator, representing District 12.  

Levesque has previously served three terms as a state representative. She said that she didn't focus on her race as she campaigned, or when she worked in the House.

"But it's not lost on me that I would be the first African American to be a state senator, and I think that's wonderful. It opens more doors,” she said. “It gives people a mentor, someone to look up to and say, ’Hey I can do that, too,’ ” she said.

Levesque says she wants to focus on education and health care during her term.

Daniela is an editor in NHPR's newsroom. She leads NHPR's Spanish language news initiative, ¿Qué Hay de Nuevo, New Hampshire? and the station's climate change reporting project, By Degrees. You can email her at dallee@nhpr.org.

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