(3-minute read) THE LAWMAKER OVERCAME A HUGE CHALLENGE
African-American history was made in January when the first African-American Republican woman lawmaker was sworn in as a legislator in the Alaska House of Representatives.
Rep. Jackson has got style, that much is obvious. But she also has more grit and determination than most Alaskans. Maybe that comes from her six-year stint in the U.S. Army. Or maybe it’s her deep faith in God.
Few Alaskans know that in 2015, Jackson suffered a stroke and was hospitalized. The stroke affected her speech, and she had to retrain herself how to form words again. The stroke also took away her stamina for several months, requiring a lot of bed rest. For a couple of years, she needed plenty of naps and made few public commitments.
But this Army veteran was not giving up. She continued to work for Sen. Dan Sullivan as a constituent liaison with a focus on the needs of veterans. She started a diverse Republican women’s club in Anchorage. She ran for lieutenant governor. All this, while fighting to regain her full power of speaking.
It wasn’t until after the November election that she had her chance again: Gov. Michael Dunleavy appointed her to fill the District 13 spot left vacant in Eagle River when Dunleavy tapped Nancy Dahlstrom to run Alaska’s Corrections Department.
Jackson got caught in between Democrats and Republicans at the beginning of session when Democrats refused to seat her, because she would have been a critical vote for a Republican Speaker. That matter was finally settled after Republicans caved in and allowed Democrat Neal Foster to become Speaker Pro Tem.
You’ll see Rep. Jackson on the floor of the House — speaking with the conviction of someone who has not only served her nation in uniform but one who has fought her way back to full health — if you watch House floor sessions on 360North.org. She is making history in the Alaska Legislature, representing one of the most conservative areas of the state.