BY LOGAN MCCOURTNEY –
One of the greatest things about a Democracy is that it gives people the opportunity to voice their concerns and desires. Throughout generations, men and women have been appointed to be the voice of a segment or group of people. For over 40 years now, Terry Scott has been a voice for many in Polk County. Terry serves as a Justice of the Peace [JP] on the Quorum Court, a position he has held since the Court’s inception in Polk County.
The Quorum Court is the voice of the people concerning the county issues in their districts. The Court can vote to make ordinances or resolutions that pertains to county issues such as road, budget and finance, and public safety. The Court’s inception was 1976 and their first official meeting was on January 3, 1977. This was also Terry’s first year to serve as JP. Since the first year, he has served as a JP for each and every year without any lapse in service. That accomplishment is very rare, even in local politics. “I had a cousin who worked at the courthouse, he contacted me and said there was a new system and they needed a representative for the Cove area. I had never been interested in politics, but I thought I would try it out,” recalls Terry. For somebody that was just ‘trying’ it out, Terry’s service has proved to be exceptional, as voters continue to elect him to represent them on the court.
Terry was born in Mena and graduated from Cove High School. He and his wife, Joan, raised their family in Cove as well. They have two kids, one boy and one girl, both of whom competed at Cove in basketball and track.
Politics was not always on the front burner for Terry; early on in his life he was quite the businessman. After his time in the Army, he worked in various settings, always learning and pursuing the next business opportunity. Terry chuckles talking about his work experience, “I worked at a chicken plant and drove a truck, then I owned a mechanic garage, Scott’s Garage. When it burned down, we rebuilt and made it a parts house. My old building is actually City Hall now.” Later, Terry started selling videos, as well, in Cove. “I actually got in selling videos when it was popular and still a thing,” laughs Terry. Possibly Terry’s biggest business adventure was Scotty’s convenience store in Cove. The store was built in 1996. The ‘business bone’ runs through Terry’s family, his son worked as a manager for Walmart for many years before buying TJ’s convenience store in Hatfield, and his daughter is a superintendent. “I always wanted to be my own boss. We have just been fortunate that it has worked out the way it has,” says Terry.
Many things in politics have changed during Terry’s time of service, but his desire to be loyal and a voice for the people has not changed. “I started in politics because they needed somebody, but what has kept me in it has been wanting to do the right thing. When I started, I thought that there were unfair taxes and I wanted to speak up for the working man. Early on there were only 9 JP’s, often the vote may be 8-1 because I wanted to stand up for what people wanted and needed,” states Terry. It isn’t very often that politicians stay in office as long as Terry, some of this is due to restrictions on how long someone can serve for, but it may also be because it is such demanding work at times.
Terry is now in his 41st year of serving the residents of Polk County, there have been countless times he has served people well by speaking for them when they personally can not speak for themselves. “I have done this for so long because it means a great deal to me that I get to represent the people. I have viewed this like a job, I felt obligated, I wanted to honor my word and honor the people who have appointed me,” says Terry. His tenure has allowed for many friendships to be formed with other JP’s and to really grow in understanding and appreciation for the community. Terry is thankful for the time he has had as a JP. “I am thankful for the community’s respect to continue to place me in the position I am in. It means a great deal that over and over again they would desire for me to be their voice,” explains Terry.
It is clear that no matter what party a community or people embraces, politics needs more men and women like Terry Scott. His service as a JP and his faithfulness to speak up for the working people of Polk County is important. “I cherish that people trust me the way they do. Trust me to be a voice and be logical and wise in all of our dealings,” says Terry.