19-Year-Old Representative Is Among New Faces In New Hampshire's House Rachel Martin talks to Cassandra Levesque, a New Hampshire state legislator who starts her first term in office on Wednesday. Changing child marriage laws motivated her to run for office.
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19-Year-Old Representative Is Among New Faces In New Hampshire's House

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19-Year-Old Representative Is Among New Faces In New Hampshire's House

19-Year-Old Representative Is Among New Faces In New Hampshire's House

19-Year-Old Representative Is Among New Faces In New Hampshire's House

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/673630968/673630969" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Rachel Martin talks to Cassandra Levesque, a New Hampshire state legislator who starts her first term in office on Wednesday. Changing child marriage laws motivated her to run for office.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Today is the first day of work for New Hampshire's 400-member House of Representatives. Among the many new faces will be 19-year-old Cassandra Levesque. She got involved in state politics a few years ago, motivated to change the child marriage laws in her state that allowed girls as young as 13 to be married. Levesque worked with a state legislator, and the state agreed to raise the marriage age to 16. Cassandra Levesque wasn't satisfied, though. She wants the marriage age raised to 18, so she ran for state office and won. She told me why this issue has moved her the way it has.

CASSANDRA LEVESQUE: The big problem is they wound up in abusive situations, not having any money to their name. They are just stuck in this situation, and they don't know how to get out.

MARTIN: How did this turn into you running for a seat on the state legislature?

LEVESQUE: One of the representatives that I met is Representative Ellen Read from Newmarket, N.H. And she has been a mentor for me since I decided to run.

MARTIN: She suggested that you do it?

LEVESQUE: Yes.

MARTIN: And did you think that was crazy?

LEVESQUE: Yes, I did. I didn't know anything about it. I didn't know how to run. I was very wary of it. I had so many questions that needed to be answered. And I came up with the pros and con list. And I sat down with Representative Ellen Read and many other people, and I asked them questions. And soon, the cons turned into pros (laughter).

MARTIN: And your parents, your family was all supportive?

LEVESQUE: Yes, definitely.

MARTIN: Were you surprised when you won?

LEVESQUE: (Laughter) Yes, I was.

MARTIN: Clearly, a lot of people have faith in you. You won your election. You were encouraged by people at the highest levels. But I'm sure you've gotten some kind of strange looks from folks or comments under their breath about, how is this 19-year-old going to do this job?

LEVESQUE: Yes, I have. I feel that, with my age, a lot of people don't really know what to think. They only think of 19-year-olds in college. Then they look back what they were doing at 19. My thing is, though, I've done so much since I was 15. I could do so much more as a state representative. And I have been told that I'm very mature from my age. I can make a difference and hopefully bring new perspective in to the state representative.

MARTIN: Setting aside the child marriage act, which I assume will still be important to you - but what are the other issues that you're really passionate about, that you want to work on?

LEVESQUE: Definitely women and children's issues and bringing the youth back into New Hampshire, finding ways to make it affordable and accessible for them to get an education and figure out ways to where we can make our drinking water safe.

MARTIN: Do you think you might be into politics, like, for the long haul? Is this something you'd make a career out of?

LEVESQUE: I do not know yet. I'm still figuring some things out.

MARTIN: Cassandra Levesque, thank you so much for talking with us.

LEVESQUE: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF NIHONI'S "RUBY")

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