All business: Republican candidate for S.C. Congress Katie Arrington has humble beginnings

Katie Arrington (WCIV)

Katie Arrington, current South Carolina House of Representatives for the 94th district, defeated Rep. Mark Sanford in the race for S.C. congress in the Republican primary on June 12.

She edged out Sanford by 2,661 votes, according to the Associated Press.

With hours left before polls closed in her race to defeat Sanford, Arrington got an endorsement from President Donald Trump on Twitter.

Northern roots

Katie Arrington was born in Virginia, but her roots spread all the way to the state of New York.

“There's military brats and federal brats, I was a federal brat. Then, my parents moved back up to New York state to where their families were from, probably when I was 10, 11 years old, and lived in upstate New York,” Arrington said.

Her number one priority is family.

“I am the mother to two beautiful children and one step daughter, grandmother to three current and I have another grandbaby on the way.”

Her state website shows she attended Canisius College in New York in 2001 when she was 31; but the Republican candidate for state representative in South Carolina never graduated.

“I joke around and say I have more college credits than somebody with a master’s degree, but I never actually graduated college," she said.

A lengthy resume

She started a daycare for special needs children in 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. I lived paycheck to paycheck, and even then stretched it some to the point where I had to get assistance, women, infant and children, WIC, to help feed my son formula and that was probably one of the worst moments in my life. I mean no parent wants to say, 'I created life and I can't take care of it,'" she describes.

She doesn't believe in handouts, but hand ups.

“If you're 27 and you're on public assistance, what is your way out? We have to have a way out. Is it we need to go back in school? Need to be re-trained? Is there something we need to do to help you become successful? We want to be able to empower you to take care of yourself.”

For a woman with no college degree, she has a lengthy resume.

She started a business called Breakfast Club of America which she sold and used that money and got into real estate development.

"I was the first woman-owned land development company in South Carolina, and then the recession came in 2007," she said.

She then got into the department of defense and started a large defense contractor company.

"I started in their Capture Management Business Development and then one thing led to another and I ended up becoming a subject matter expert on cybersecurity - specific software used with the government," she said. "That's where I was until I became a legislator.”

She was elected in 2017 to the SC House of Representatives in the 94th district, which includes Charleston and Dorchester counties.

We asked her what she thought about college graduates entering the workforce with thousand dollars in student loan debt.

"You have to look at when you go into school, the return on investment. As a business woman, that's what I look at," she said. "My time in, what am I going to get out? As a taxpayer, what am I putting in, what am I getting out of it? I think we need to remember that not everybody is meant for a four-year degree."

She adds: "There is nothing wrong with a mechanic, a cosmetologist; my welder is just as important as my doctor and lawyer. We should value each other and what we can create as communities and not look at a degree as the benefice of somebody being worthy of employment.”

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off