New Member Rep. Gets Lay of the Land

Connie Van Houten Preparing for Her First Term in State House

State Rep. Connie Van Houten is no stranger to public service. After decades teaching in Manchester, she retired, won a seat on the city’s school board and began teaching at Manchester Community College. Still, as she prepares to start her first term as a state representative, she said she’s learning a lot.

Van Houten was one of a dozen member legislators who won their races on Election Day. Dozens more stepped up and ran — in fact, it was the largest group of members we’ve ever had run for office in one year. Van Houten — and the rest of the legislature — took the oath of office Wednesday morning as part of Organization Day, which came after several busy days of freshmen legislator orientation last week.

“We had probably six or seven hours a day, jam-packed, with other freshman,” said Van Houten, who’s a member of Chapter 32 as well as the National Education Association’s NH branch. “We got a good overview of what happens in Concord and how we can be a part of that.”

Van Houten said during orientation, she was able to meet many of the fellow freshman legislators coming out of Manchester.

“It’s good for me to get to work with people in a similar position,” she said. “I think my working relationship with the veteran legislators is pre-established, so getting to know the freshmen is important.”

The Democrat brings a record of bipartisan work in Manchester with her to the Capitol, something she said is needed to do what’s best for our state and communities.

“That means, first and foremost, respecting each other, regardless of parties,” Van Houten said.

Whatever she’s asked to do — while representatives can request committee assignments, the final decision rests with the speaker — Van Houten said she’ll work hard and she’ll be present.

“I have a 100 percent attendance record on the school board in Manchester,” she said. “I really do take seriously what I do.”

Van Houten said learning more about the work that our legislators do every day has only reinforced her appreciation for their efforts.

“They really do impact lives all the way down the line,” she said. “My hat is off to those people who’ve served ahead of me. I just hope I can do it justice.”

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