Rep. Tippi McCullough Brian Chilson

Rep. Tippi McCullough (D-Little Rock), a teacher for over 30 years, knows how to stand up for herself and her values. Now she takes her experience and resolve to the legislature to stand up for Arkansas and the people she represents in District 33. McCullough answered my questions on how to fix what she believes is the biggest problem facing Arkansas, her thoughts on the expectations of women and what music she finds motivational as she prepares for her first term in the legislature.

McCullough believes the biggest problem facing our state is the combination of poverty and lack of education. As a teacher and former coach who has worked across Arkansas, she says this is an issue shared by both rural and urban areas. Focusing on shrinking the income gap and reestablishing the middle class will lead to less poverty, more education and will open up more economic opportunities. The result will be less division and our communities will thrive.

“Statistically speaking when someone lives in poverty, he/she gets less education, earns less money over a lifetime, is more likely to be hungry, live in inferior housing, more likely to turn to drugs or crime and less likely to have health care or insurance. Poverty shuts down dreams, leads to a sense of hopelessness and divides communities.”

When asked about carrying the hopes and dreams of women on her shoulders, McCullough points out that no single woman carries the dreams of all women, but, rather, our power lies in our unity. She credits her mother, grandmother, aunts, cousins, teammates, friends, educators, wife, mentors and campaign volunteers for buoying and supporting her throughout her life and says she intends to do the same for others by mentoring and raising them up. McCullough believes we are at a turning point in society because women are “empowering each other in our uniqueness and diversity.”

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“I just had a conversation with several women at the Capitol yesterday, and we spoke about the power and talent that women have always had but have had to shift our thinking to realize that we not only belong ‘in the room where it happens’ but that we can make a difference there.”

McCullough has a long list of music she currently looks to for inspiration, including “My Shot” and “The Room Where It Happens” from Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical Hamilton. One of her favorites during the campaign was “&Run” by Sir Sly. “Walk on Water” by 30 Seconds to Mars reminds her that no one has all of the answers. When she wants her spirits lifted, she turns to “Make Me Feel” by Janelle Monáe. McCullough credits The Avett Brothers and their “sincerity, fun, and translation of life’s issues” for teaching her something new each time she listens.