The first present her future husband gave Marie Gluesenkamp Perez was a carburetor.
As someone who, as a child, fixed broken bikes that neighbors left on the curb, it was a welcome gift. She and her husband, Dean Gluesenkamp, ended up going into business together, opening Dean's Car Care in northeast Portland in 2008. Their six-bay, 4,000-square-foot repair shop has eight employees.
"It's fun to make things work. It's fun to be useful and have that element of self-sufficiency," she said.
Perez, 35, is looking to apply that practical experience to government, having been elected to Congress in November representing Washington State's third district. Perez, her husband and toddler son, Ciro, live in Skamania County in southwest Washington close to the Oregon border and Portland.
Perez's father emigrated from Mexico when he was 20 and she's the second Latino Democrat to be elected from Washington State. She narrowly beat her Republican opponent, winning 50.5 percent of the vote.