A New Voice For Us at the State House
From our state to your town to your street - let's work together to make them the best they can be!
I’m writing this as a mom with two young kids. My son Escher is 6, and my daughter Luna is 3 -- so, if you’ve been a parent, you know what’s dominated my life for the past six years. I love being a mom and having kids has informed my thinking about almost everything about the world -- that’s what becoming a parent does to you. When I think about my run for office, almost everything I think about is influenced by the things that will affect my kids and their future.
But -- even though sometimes it feels hard to remember -- there was a time before I had kids. I grew up right here, in Rhode Island. I went to Pilgrim High School in Warwick, along with my younger brother (and campaign treasurer!) Nicholas. He and his wife Kristen live nearby. My parents moved to South County around the time we finished high school, and they still live there. This is my state -- and when my husband David and I found out we were going to have a baby, we immediately decided to return here. This is my home -- and now theirs.
Every week Luna and I have lunch with her great-grandparents, who also live in South County, at the same house where I used to play when I was my kids’ age. It’s full of memories for me, and I’m happy to be giving my kids the same memories, three decades later.
When I think about being their age, and growing up, I think about reading books. I loved reading, and I loved school, and it led me to URI after high school, where I decided to major in English, and went on to get a masters’ degree. After that, I decided to pursue a doctorate in American Studies, which took me to small-town Ohio, at Bowling Green State University.
In American Studies programs, we study things like culture, and who has power and who doesn’t and why, and what societal and historical trends have led to the America we inhabit today. I was able to sharpen my thinking about the challenges our society faces.
I was also a teacher -- and at high-quality state schools like URI and BGSU, I taught a broad cross-section of each state’s students, who had a wide variety of backgrounds, beliefs, and circumstances. I learned so much about the world around us.
I had prepared myself for a career of writing about the state of America in academic journals. But while I was in Bowling Green, its City Council passed a law extending non-discrimination protections (in housing, employment, and so forth) to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community there -- and then opponents gathered signatures to force a referendum to try to take those protections away. The whole town was going to vote on the law. I heard about the opposition campaign, was asked to volunteer for the pro-LGBT campaign, and swiftly found myself a leader in our side’s campaign. As the campaign went on, and then wrapped up (we won!), I became inspired by the difference I made dealing with the whole community, outside the world of academia, and wondered whether that would be a more effective way to impact the issues I’d thought and written so much about during my studies.
So I took a job as a paid organizer working to pass a law guaranteeing same-sex Maine couples the right to marry -- this was before the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing marriage for same-sex couples nationwide. We had to win an election. One vote at a time.
That taught me valuable skills, too -- because in Maine, we’d already lost an election, and we had to get people who had voted against us to change their minds. So I learned to have conversations with opponents, and then taught people to have conversations with opponents. People feel very strongly about same-sex marriage. So I taught volunteers to do more listening than talking. I taught them to be generous in spirit toward opponents and to meet voters where they were. And I taught them to find common ground on the issues where we all agreed -- that marriage is important, to everyone, and that the gay people these voters knew and loved deserved marriage as much as they did, and wanted to get married for the same reasons they did.
That’s when my husband David and I found out we were going to have Escher -- and when I knew it was time to come back to my home, here in Rhode Island. I’m working on making David a Rhode Islander. He has slowly but surely stopped complaining about sand in his food at the beach. He still pokes fun at us for complaining about driving “so far” when we have to go anywhere, but he enthusiastically admits that he likes clear clam chowder better than the white and red chowders he had before he came. We came back in time for Benny’s to be his favorite store, and the store where he and my son bought his first bike. David’s a small business owner -- so he moved his small software development business here.
When we decided to come back to Rhode Island, we had to choose a community in which to settle, and we chose East Greenwich. I grew up right over in Warwick, so I already knew EG well. I remember buying my junior prom dress at a shop on Main Street, and the wrap I wore on my wedding day at Zuzu’s Petals. Many of my friends had waited tables at The Grille on Main, so I ended up spending a lot of time there. But what attracted us most of all were the people who lived here, the small-town feel, and the excellent school system that would be available to our growing family.
I worked hard raising our kids, and David worked hard financially supporting our family, and then the election in November of 2016 happened.
In Bowling Green and Maine, I’d taken a big role working in politics, and the morning after the election, the results made me feel as though I hadn’t done enough in 2016. I knew I had to think about how to do more -- to step up and do something to make a difference.
I’ve spent every day since working on that difference. I decided to run for a seat in the State House of Representatives because I felt I could make a difference on the issues I cared about, and that I know that the people of our community care about, too. I knew I’d bring a very different perspective to the legislature -- that of a young parent, and a woman. These are perspectives that aren’t well-represented at the State House now.
Our whole family loves it here in East Greenwich: you can catch all of us at the Swift playground, David and I on date night at one of our great restaurants, or me trying to keep Escher and Luna to a loud whisper at the East Greenwich Free Library. In the summertime, some part of our family can be found almost every day at the Greenwich Club.
So our family’s future is here in East Greenwich! I want to make sure our community’s concerns are represented at the State House, and I’m ready to do the work to make sure that happens.