My name is Megan Cotter, and I am running to be the next State Representative for Exeter, Hopkinton and Richmond because as a working mom, I know Rhode Island’s families deserve better.
I ran for State Representative in 2020 and lost by 321 votes. During the campaign I knocked on doors after work and on weekends. I heard concerns about rising taxes. I heard frustration about the lack of trash services. I heard worries about funding for our public schools and protecting our open spaces. I met many caring people who, like me, were nervous about the future.
We deserve better from our state government, and that’s why I am running again to represent District 39 at the RI State House. Now more than ever, I am committed to promoting compassion and unity over hatred and division.
I learned these values from my father. I grew up on Hilltop Avenue in Providence – mom was a waitress and dad sold heating and air conditioning systems. My parents divorced, but my dad was my everything. He could tell you what was wrong with your boiler from hearing it over the phone. He took us to church every Sunday at St. Augustine’s. He taught us kindness. When the church offered meals to homeless people, he made sure we all helped.
He taught us to work hard. At Classical High School, I served as class treasurer and played basketball. I waited tables after school at Newport Creamery. I went to the University of Rhode Island and had a triple major -- in English, Comparative Literature, and Classical Studies. It was a lot of work, but my generation was told that college would unlock the American Dream.
In college I met my amazing husband, Chris, and soon we had three children. I realized daycare would take my whole paycheck, so I stayed home during the day and waitressed at night. Chris worked full-time, and we barely saw each other. The rent, utilities, healthcare and student loans were suffocating. I thought: it shouldn’t be this hard to raise a family in Rhode Island.
Like many Rhode Island families, we dug in. When my kids started school, I went back to work. I got a sales job in the food industry. I was the only woman on my team. I hustled and I moved up, eventually landing a job travelling the country to help a local seafood company be one of the largest players in its industry. I was a top performer, but I learned my male colleagues were paid twice as much. I moved on to a family-owned Rhode Island company, and now I promote them nationally. I learned a lot about the role of small businesses in our economy and the challenges that women face in the workforce.
After years of scrimping and saving, in 2014 Chris and I bought a house in Exeter. The strong schools, natural beauty and quiet make this part of our state the perfect place to raise a family. Our kids are still enrolled in the public schools -- Emily attends Exeter West Greenwich High, Joe is at the middle school and Charlie is at Metcalf Elementary. Every family in Rhode Island should have the chance to own a home and send their kids to great schools, and that’s why I am running for State Representative.
In 2016, my optimistic father -- the man who taught me caring -- was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. He kept his sense of humor even through the pain of chemotherapy; “things could always be worse,” he would say. At 57, he passed away.
Dad qualified for a drug trial that reduced the cost of his care, but I saw how big the bills were. How many people couldn’t afford treatment? How many people wait too long to go to the doctor because of the cost? Rhode Islanders deserve better.
I lost my dad and my kids lost their grandfather. To help us heal we adopted Toast, a sweet golden doodle, and he brought needed joy into our home.
But sometimes one tragedy follows another. Around the one year anniversary of my father’s death, a battery explosion burned our home to the ground. Even the foundation was destroyed. We lost everything we owned, but we gained something more important: a new understanding of community.
I raced home to find my husband and youngest son in an ambulance -- cold but safe. The older kids were at school. No one knew where Toast was. I knew that I could not tell my children that they lost their grandfather, their home and their dog, too. Immediately neighbors started looking, and they found Toast.
I stood in a sea of firetrucks and emergency responders shivering in a sweatshirt. I will never forget the neighbor who took off her scarf and put it around my neck saying: don’t worry, you are going to get through this. I still have that scarf.
Help came from every direction. From our neighbors. From parents of kids in my son’s class. We never asked, but people stepped up without being asked. Their love humbled us profoundly. Friends and strangers took the worst experience in our children’s lives and transformed it into a reassuring lesson about generosity. My children will never forget that neighbors care for one another.
When given the choice between moving or rebuilding, we did not hesitate. This was where our children should grow up. We rebuilt, and in a year we were back home.
My family gives back to the community that gave so much to us. We are active in our church, we donate, we volunteer, and we keep an ear open for families who need a hand or a meal. About three years ago I became a volunteer coach for youth basketball in Exeter West Greenwich. I love seeing young people grow confidence, and I love that our co-ed teams show girls that they can play just as well as the boys.
If you care enough about something, you need to get involved. I decided to run for office because I think Rhode Island deserves leaders who show the same caring spirit I see every day in Hopkinton, Exeter and Richmond. Leaders who can bring us together, across our differences, to demand dignity for every Rhode Islander. I am running for State Representative because the State House could use a big dose of our hard working, common sense values.
We deserve a state government that champions the needs of working families, not big corporations. We need good jobs with livable wages. We must stop clear-cutting forests to build solar farms -- there is no reason to destroy beautiful land when there are so many other ways to create clean energy. We must invest in our children and our economic future by supporting public education. Rhode Islanders deserve better.
I am not a career politician. I am a working mom and a fighter who will stand up for my family and for yours. I’d love to hear from you about your concerns and your ideas for our community. Feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (401) 541-5588.