Rep. Jamie Scott (D-North Little Rock) became the youngest African-American woman in the Arkansas Legislature yesterday. Scott, the executive director for Pulaski County Youth Services, defeated opponent Isaac Henry in the District 37 Democratic primary and went on to run unopposed in the general election. Recently, she took time to answer my questions about what problem she believes needs fixing in Arkansas, the pressures of being a woman elected in 2018 and the music she is listening to as she prepares for her first week of the 2019 legislative session.
Scott sees safety as the biggest problem facing Arkansas. She wants a bipartisan effort to strengthen state laws designed to keep women safe.
“Women, especially in Arkansas are at a greater risk of experiencing violence. We need stronger laws to protect women from domestic abuse and sexual assault. We are going to start tackling these issues in a more serious way, with the help of Republican women. This is an issue that we are ready to move forward on as a state. It’s past time.”
When asked her thoughts on the possibility of disappointing some of her supporters who may expect more than she and her Democratic colleagues can achieve in the legislature, Scott pointed out we should not underestimate the women who worked to “create a really exciting political moment.” She offers praise for Moms Demand Action and the organization’s Arkansas lead, Eve Jorgensen, along with the Progressive Arkansas Women PAC, a group working to get more progressive women in elected office. “These women have literally created a new avenue, and I believe we will only go up from here. Hard work against long odds is all too familiar to women. We know what we are up against and we are ready to do the hard work, as long as it takes, day in and day out.”
Scott describes her current playlist as “all over the place.” She lists “Gods Plan” by Drake, “Trust in You” and “You Say” by Lauren Daigle, “All the Stars” by Kendrick Lamar and SZA, “Humble and Kind” by Tim McGraw and “Best Life” by Cardi B and Chance the Rapper as motivators.
Scott will have her work cut out for her as the GOP still has a supermajority in the House but her willingness to seek common ground and her desire for more women lawmakers who represent all women, regardless of party, may be a key to success.
“Women sometimes have the incredible burden of operating in a world that’s too often built by, and for, men. Thankfully that’s beginning to change, and I know we’re going to keep pushing.”