Meghan Scoggins: Turning obstacles into success
Meghan Scoggins is running for Texas House of Representatives, District 28. Scoggins left the Democratic primary election victoriously with 81% of the vote and is now preparing for the general election in November, where she will face the Republican incumbent, Representative John Zerwas. The obstacles she has faced throughout the course of her life have led her to a career dedicated to advocacy, especially for issues including education, domestic violence, and consumer protections. Now, Scoggins hopes to transform these obstacles into successes through legislation, if she were to be elected.
Scoggins had a self-proclaimed interesting upbringing. She was born into a household inflicted with domestic violence that eventually claimed her mother’s life. After losing her mother, Scoggins was placed in foster care for a short period until she moved in with her grandparents. At the age of ten, Scoggins was moved halfway across the country to live with her aunt and uncle. She went from being an only child to the newest sibling to six other children in a 3 hour plane ride. With nine mouths to feed under one roof, Scoggins remembers having a comfortable, but frugal upbringing. Her aunt and uncle were very religious, setting the stage for Scoggins to participate in many community service projects. When she was sixteen, Scoggins started an initiative to raise physical or monetary donations of feminine hygiene products for the local domestic violence shelters through a female club at her high school. That female organization at the school still continues this program today, twenty-three years later. Scoggins says, “all of these things spurred my passion for community service.”
It wasn’t until early adulthood that Scoggins was directly exposed to politics. At the end of 2002, she was the mother of two small children and was utilizing food stamps. She started a home based business and gained significant success very quickly. She then became a victim of identity theft. The case was so severe that it was part of the basis for a book and a Lifetime movie. Everything had been stolen from her including $20,000 from her bank account and a second mortgage taken on her home, which led to a foreclosure the law couldn’t stop. At this time, Scoggins said that current laws didn’t protect victims of identity theft. In response, she said “if the laws aren’t going to protect victims of crime, I am going to change them.” Immediately, Scoggins traveled to Washington, D.C. and started knocking on any representative’s door who would talk to her. Eventually, she had a chance encounter with a congresswoman who assisted Scoggins in passing an amendment in the Fair Credit Reporting Act that better protected victims of identity theft. This instance would not be the last time Scoggins would find herself influencing legislation.
In 2011, Scoggins began testifying on various legislation pieces specifically focused on education in Texas. In 2013, she advocated for women’s health care. In 2015, she provided an additional voice for voting rights. The notorious “bathroom bill” (SB6), a proposed regulation that would require transgender individuals to utilize restrooms in public buildings based on their "biological sex", surfaced on the floor during the 2017 legislative session. Scoggins was thrown in the midst of the debate by her then 12 year old daughter, who asked her about it while Scoggins was preparing to travel to Austin to testify on education legislation. When Scoggins’ asked what she knew about it, her daughter simply responded by saying “fix it”. That was the moment when Scoggins knew she wanted to run for Texas House of Representatives.
When Scoggins decided to run for office, she had no prior experience in the campaign world. While she had held experience testifying for legislation and working on issue driven initiatives, she had never personally worked on a political campaign. Scoggins had to learn how to file to get her name on the ballot as well as learn how to canvass her community. She found a wealth of resources that helped to prepare her for the campaign through Annie’s List, a non-profit dedicated to training democratic women to run for office in Texas. The biggest source of guidance and daily advice has come other candidates. She has partnered with the Women on Fire, an association of women candidates across Texas (also featured in our article about Sarah Depew). From that group, they spurred another group called Texas Women Rising, which is focused specifically on Democratic women running for the Texas Legislature.
Scoggins won her primary election for Texas House of Representatives, District 28with more than 81% of the vote. Democratic voter turnout increased by 562% in her district. Now, she is gearing up for the general election taking place in November. If elected, Scoggins would represent a district that sits in the Northern portion of Fort Bend County. She described this area as a dense suburban with rural areas and a racially diverse population undergoing exponential growth. Knowing that there is such a wide range of residents, Scoggins feels that the current representatives in the Fort Bend area are only representing specific portions of the district, leaving many voiceless in the political arena. Scoggins hopes to lift the voices of marginalized communities, especially students in Texas. Scoggins plans to expand the education budget while reassessing how money in the public-school system is currently spent. She also wants to transform standardized testing from the STAAR to the Iowa Basic Standard Skills Assessment, a more cost effective basic standard skills test commonly used across the country. Overall, Scoggins hopes to bring the money back into the classroom.
Throughout her campaign, Scroggins recognizes that there are barriers facing women in politics. At the first large event she attended while on the campaign trail, she met a gentleman who was a well known political personality in Houston. He told her “you’re pretty but not too pretty so you’ll do well”, assuming that she will garner votes based on her physical appearance. He immediately turned to the male candidate next to her and asked about his qualifications and background. Scoggins also is criticized about her hairstyles and outfit choices while also being referred to as “darling”, “sweetheart”, and “honey”.
Regardless of these barriers against women candidates, Scoggins wants women interested in politics to know that it is harsh but there is a need for more strong women candidates. She said “people will ask you stupid things and comment on your appearance but don’t worry about them. Stay strong and keep going, we need to be heard.”
Meghan Scoggins is currently running for Texas House of Representatives, District 28 as the Democratic candidate. She will face an opponent in the November general election.