Why I'm running for Congress
by Carol Shea-Porter
on Sunday, January 22nd 2006 3:42 pm

Thank you for visiting my campaign website and giving me this opportunity to tell you who I am and why I am running for Congress.

I’m from a large family. My brothers and sisters and I grew up in a household that also included my parents, a great-uncle, a grandmother, and a constantly changing roster of children and teens who needed a place to live during difficult times in their lives.

My parents taught us good values, patriotism, hard work, faith, and service to others.

My brothers and sisters and I understood that America is the land of opportunity because we saw it in our own family. My goal in Congress is to serve the hardworking families of New Hampshire who want to offer their families the opportunities, security and love I had.

Like so many others, my parents struggled to survive the Great Depression. My father was injured while serving on the USS Savannah during WWII. He went to college under the GI Bill after the war and became a successful lawyer. My mother ran her own antiques business.

Because of America’s commitment to its youth and the future and the incredible economic growth of the 50s and 60s, I grew up in the security of the middle class.

I graduated from a New Hampshire public high school and then worked my way through the University of New Hampshire holding jobs in factories, hotels, and restaurants. I received a degree in Social Services. Later, I earned a Master’s in Public Administration, also from UNH.

Not long after college, I married what is affectionately known as an Army brat. My husband was in the service during the Vietnam era and we were stationed at an Army Medical Center in Colorado. I saw the terrible physical and psychological damage that war causes. I have carried that memory in my heart all of these years.

I also carry the knowledge from my father's generation that sometimes there is no alternative to war, but I know that we must pursue every option before we use force. I know first-hand how tough it is to be in a military family, away from home and loved ones. Their sacrifices are daily and enormous, and I have great respect and appreciation for the job they do and the struggles they face. Military families and veterans can count on my support in Congress.

After leaving the service, my husband and I lived in New Orleans for a year where I worked at a senior center that offered medical services, meals, transportation and social programs. I continued my work with senior citizens after we moved to the Washington, DC area.

I was named to the Mayor's Taskforce on Senior Housing and became active in a successful volunteer effort to bring affordable housing to the community. I also helped found and served on the Board of Directors of a community social service agency to serve the homeless, the poor, families in distress and those with drug or alcohol addiction problems.

My professional work as a social worker and my volunteer advocacy for disadvantaged people in our society plays a huge role in my decision to run for Congress.

But I was fortunate enough to be able to use my education in other ways. I taught Current Issues and American History at a local Community College. Later on, I spent 15 years lecturing on the same subjects to retired diplomats, federal employees, and other professionals in the Washington area.

The combination of hands-on work within the community and a continuing engagement with public policy professionals has given me a deep understanding of how the decisions made in Washington determine the security, the health and the economic opportunities of American families everywhere.

Nowhere has that ever been more evident than in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina hit. I volunteered in Louisiana for about a month right after the hurricane and, then, went back again later in the fall. My husband and I had lived for a time in New Orleans, but even those who have never been there could see from the news that the destruction was unparalleled.

The Bush administration failed the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast and Bush’s supporters in Congress have, only reluctantly, taken small steps to rebuild the area.

Before Katrina hit, I had already been considering running for Congress. When my husband, my children and I returned home to New Hampshire several years ago, it was already clear to me that in order to make people's lives better, citizens needed to be heard in Washington. I became more politically active, working on the Clark and Kerry campaigns and serving as the Strafford County Coordinator for state representative races. I was elected Chair of the Rochester Democrats last year.

When I came back from the Gulf Coast, I made the decision to run for Congress.

The policies of the Bush administration and Bush’s supporters in Congress have taken us into an unnecessary war, given us the biggest deficits in American history, failed to protect our citizens, waged war on the environment, and nearly destroyed the middle class with punitive tax policies, and the ever-increasing costs for health care, gasoline, heating oil, and education.

I am running for Congress because I have the experience, knowledge and skills to work effectively in Washington. I ask for your vote because I know that, together, we can make our country, our state and our communities the land of opportunity for all.