EASTON — Megan Cook is running for re-election to the Easton Town Council Presidency seat, and the only elected woman currently on the council has set her sights on improving outdoor dining and the local parks.
Cook was first elected to the council presidency last year during a special election, winning a one-year term. She’s now running unopposed for a four-year term.
But Cook is a veteran in Easton politics. The council president was first elected to a town council seat more than a decade ago and has had much of a say in town affairs since — though she says she’s got a lot more to accomplish.
“I’m still working hard to make Easton a livable community and a place where you want to raise your family,” she said.
In the past year, Cook has expressed disapproval of the Talbot Boys Confederate monument on the courthouse lawn; led the council through the approval of a new dog park off Brewers Lane and the OK for Talbot Interfaith Shelter to purchase another home for the homeless; and voted against the controversial “Home Depot” text amendment discussion.
Cook said she still stands by her vote against the amendment, which allowed for a home improvement store larger than 65,000 square feet to apply for a spot outside of a shopping center, a restraint Easton has long maintained through its comprehensive plans. Cook said the comprehensive plan currently under a rewrite was the place for that discussion.
“I still feel the proper way is to go through the comprehensive plan rewrite starting this year,” she said. “It’s the guiding force for the next ten years in Easton.”
Some of her fellow council members who voted for the amendment said Easton is already a commercial destination and space on the east side of U.S. Route 50 should be considered for development.
“On some level we have always been somewhat of a commercial destination, but that does not mean we have to have it at the size of big box” sprawl, Cook said. “It’s how we manage growth going forward. I think we really need to make sure that there’s some thought put into how Easton does grow and at what rate.”
Managing growth includes building affordable housing along with commercial stores and destinations, she said.
Looking ahead, the councilwoman is pushing to increase foot traffic downtown with initiatives like outdoor dining.
“Outdoor dining is one piece of a plan to increase foot traffic downtown for residents and visitors,” she said. “I want to cater to tourism but also the people who live here. Getting people downtown keeps businesses going.”
Last year, the promenade, or plans to close down Washington Street, failed after complaints were raised. The town moved to “parklets” or converting parking spaces into outdoor dining spots and renting barriers for street protection. But Easton rented the barriers out of its own pockets. And not all businesses were on board with the idea in the first place.
Now, Cook is proposing an idea to allow restaurants to apply for a parklet and invest in barriers and the related amenities themselves.
The councilwoman also says a key priority of hers it to extend the bike path at Easton Point Park to Moton Park and continue town investment in local parks in order to beautify the area she loves.
Cook’s passion for Easton was born when she moved here. She’s from Massena, New York, and she graduated with a degree in biology from the University of Rochester and also earned a Master’s of Science in biomedical engineering from the University of Vermont.
She moved with her husband, Landy, to Taos, New Mexico, where she worked at the Taos Orthopedic Institute. But her family moved down to Easton in 2003 after her in-laws introduced her to the town, which she immediately fell in love with.
“They said you have to come to Easton, and we did,” she said. “My husband was fortunate enough to get a job offer.”
Since coming to town, she’s joined numerous boards, including the East End Neighborhood Association, Historic Easton, Avalon Foundation, Junior Achievement of Talbot County, The Gunston School and the Neighborhood Service Center.
Cook is also a big tennis player and an assistant coach of the tennis team at Easton High.
One of her biggest achievements before election to the town council was spearheading the effort to build a modern playground at Idlewild Park.
“The playground that was there was metal and plastic. So it was like, ‘What can we do to replace it?’” she asked at the time. “The idea came from the kids at the schools. We went to every elementary school in the area and kids drew pictures. Pieces of those are integrated into that plan.”
She was elected in 2009 to a Ward 4 council seat, which she held for 11 years until becoming council president in 2020 upon the passing of John Ford.
Cook also co-founded CarePacks of Talbot County, a food program serving and feeding 400 children a week. That’s one issue she is particularly passionate about.
“I’m the youngest of four girls, and my sisters and mom got together for a weekend and my mother was telling me about this backpack program that our friend started,” she said. “I thought it was a great idea ... (and now) we’re in every school in Talbot County.”
Cook is expecting a win on May 4 as she’s running unopposed. But the councilwoman said she’s just grateful for the opportunity to serve the town she grew to love.
“It’s named one of the friendliest towns,” she said. “I love the East End, being able to go out the door and walk places with your kids. It’s a great place to raise a family and I’m very fortunate.”