Who Is Katie Arrington?
CHARLESTON, SC (MEGAN RIVERS, WTAT-TV) — She’s a political newcomer and just knocked off one of the state’s most experienced politicians. Katie Arrington is now the talk of not only South Carolina but the entire country.
But what do we know about the state representative who has two years of politics under her belt?
Katie Arrington was born in Virginia and her roots spread all the way to the state of New York.
“There’s military brats and federal brats, I was a federal brat,” she said. “Then my parents moved to New York state, back to where their family was from when I was probably 10, 11-years-old.”
Her number one priority — family.
“I am the mother of two beautiful children and one stepdaughter, and the grandmother to three current and one on the way,” she said.
Arrington’s state website shows she attended college in New York in 2001 when she was 31. But the Republican candidate never graduated.
“I joke around I have more college credits than somebody with a masters degree, but I never actually graduated college,” she said.
She started a daycare for children with special needs at her home but it wasn’t enough to cover the bills.
“I worked Thursday, Friday and Saturday night – the graveyard shift – at Denny’s in Watertown, New York and lived paycheck-to-paycheck and even then stretched it some to the point where I had to get assistance; Woman, Infant and Children, I had to get W.I.C. to help feed my son formula,” she explained. “That was probably one of the worst moments of my life. No parent wants to say I I created life and I can’t take care of it.”
She doesn’t believe in handouts but hand ups.
“If you are 27-years-old and on public assistance, what is your way out? We have to have a way out. Do we need to get back into school? Do you need to be retrained? Is there something we need to do to help you become successful? I want the person that needs that — if its disability or something like that and you can’t come off, absolutely we are here to help in that capacity. But if you can, your ready, willing and able, we want to empower you to be able to take care of yourself.”
For a woman with no college education, she does have a lengthy resume.
“Expeditors, yep, came down here and worked for just a little bit and ended up starting a business down here called ‘Breakfast Club of America’ and did that until I sold it,” she explained. “Then I took that money and got into real estate development and did that for quite a few years. I was the first woman-owned land development company in South Carolina. And then the recession came and then I got into Department of Defense.”
“I started at a company that was a large defense contractor and I started in their capture management and business development. One thing led to another and ended up becoming a subject matter expert on cybersecurity on specific software used with the government. That is where I was until I became a legislator.”
We asked her what she thought about college graduates entering the workforce with thousands of dollars in student loan debt.
“You have to look at, when you go into school, the return on investment, the ROI. As a businesswoman, that is what I look on. My time in, what’s it going to get out? As a taxpayer, what I’m putting in, what am I going to get out of it? I think we need to remember that not everybody is meant for a four-year degree. There is nothing wrong with somebody, my mechanic, my cosmetologist, my beautician, me welder is just as important as my doctor and my lawyer. We should value each other and what we can create as communities and not look at a degree as benefice of somebody being worthy of employment.”
The is not the first time Arrington has faced long odds. In 2016 she won the primaries over a Nikki Hayley-backed candidate.
FOX 24 spoke with the Democratic candidate, Joe Cunningham, you can find that interview by clicking here.