Eight years ago, at my graduation from Barnard College of Columbia University, our commencement speaker, President Barack Obama urged my classmates and me not just to get involved in our communities, but to “fight for your seat at the table.” He encouraged us to consider going into public service, to lead by example, and to persevere through difficult times, challenges, and disappointments. His speech was nothing short of inspiring. I graduated that day with a renewed sense that my degree in urban planning and economics would empower me to get involved and make a difference in my hometown of East Providence.
I returned home a few days later ready to help the campaigns that were about to begin that summer. I quickly learned that, due to redistricting, the State Representative seat in my district was open. Before I knew it, friends and family were encouraging me to run. I recalled my treasured days at Thompson Kindergarten and Myron J. Francis Elementary school. I thought about the Saturday morning AYSO soccer games and volunteering with the “VIP” soccer program for children with disabilities. I remembered the Halloween parade and the Christmas lights and the Fourth of July fireworks. I remembered it all--and still do. These activities fostered my sense of belonging and duty—a sense that stuck with me as I made my way through high school and college.
Then President Obama’s advice rang through my head: here was my chance to give back to the community that gave me so much growing up. After careful consideration, I threw my hat in the ring. The youngest and only woman candidate, I figured my chances of winning would be slim. But, I worked as hard as I could because I felt my community deserved a fresh voice at the State House.
It was nothing short of an honor to win both the Primary and the General Elections in 2012, and I have been doing my best to do right by the people of District 63 ever since. I care for the generation that gave me the memories of East Providence that I hold so dear and I am dedicated to creating an environment that will provide similar memories for younger generations. Since I began my campaign over four years ago, I have knocked on every door in this district, at least once if not multiple times in order to better understand the needs of my neighbors--your needs. You asked for improvements to schools and our roads. You asked that we make living in East Providence a financial possibility, as well as enable businesses--especially small businesses--to thrive here. You expressed your concerns about the goings-on at the State House and the need for job creation here in Rhode Island. I have heard you and I have worked hard to address each of these issues.
Eight years later, while I am proud of my accomplishments on behalf of our community so far, there is still much left to be done, both for East Providence and for the state of Rhode Island. We must continue to have an advocate for our children, our senior citizens, and everyone in between--a person who acts efficiently to improve our roads and bridges, who regards gun control and climate change as serious concerns, who listens to her constituents and understands their concerns and needs. I have been and, if re-elected, will continue to be the voice of our community at the State House.