Freshman Rep. Nicole Clowney (D-Fayetteville) took time out of her schedule recently to answer a few questions about her expectations of others, the biggest problem facing Arkansas today and what she’s listening to as she prepares to represent District 86.

Clowney, along with Rep. Jamie Scott (North Little Rock) and Rep. Tippi McCullough (Little Rock) defeated male opponents in their Democratic primary races and inspired progressive women across the state early on in the 2018 election cycle. When asked how she plans to handle so many women looking to her with high expectations for change, Clowney immediately acknowledges how thankful she is for the excitement and support she receives while pointing out that she, like other legislators, “will have to prioritize and strategize and ultimately legislate in ways that are bound to disappoint some of our constituents.”

Clowney’s motivation is to “do good” and wants to hear from those she disappoints. She promises to explain herself, but adds to get through the “very real, and very hard work” of evolving and growing with her constituents, she asks that she be given the benefit of the doubt.

“It is possible to challenge a policy position rather to personally attack the politician. Too often these two things are confused. It’s easy, particularly when it’s not face-to-face, to move from being disappointed in a policy position to ascribing the most nefarious of motivations to anyone who holds that position. Disagreement does not have to equal distrust.”

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Clowney, an attorney, educator and mom of two, is the founding lead of the Fayetteville chapter of Moms Demand Action, but education is her pick for the No. 1 problem facing the state. She warns now is the time to get serious about investing in public school teachers and believes is our “moral obligation” to ensure all Arkansans have the opportunity to receive a quality education from pre-K through college or trade school.

“No child’s chance of success should be determined simply by the zip code or the body they happened to be born into. There is no equalizer like quality education. And there is nothing more morally urgent, more fiscally responsible, or more certain to lead to long-term success than an investment in quality public education.”

As to how to fix the problem, Clowney explains, “Any fix is complicated, of course, but one thing I do know; it does not involve cutting taxes for the wealthiest Arkansans.”

As to what she is listening to as she begins her first term, “Run the World (Girls)” by Beyoncé is her current musical motivation. She explains, “Well this may change depending on the week, but after seeing the newest round of leaders be sworn in Washington D.C. and heading into a session with a record-tying number of women, what else?”