Lindsley Farrar Armstrong Smith (1963–)

Lindsley Smith was a state representative from Fayetteville (Washington County) in the 85th, 86th, and 87th Arkansas General Assemblies, serving from 2005 to 2010.

Lindsley Farrar Armstrong was born on September 8, 1963, in Birmingham, Alabama, to Jewel Dean Ott, who was a homemaker and secretary, and Lewis Munn Armstrong, a civil engineer. She attended public schools in Birmingham and graduated from Woodlawn High School in 1981. She received an AA in business administration from Jefferson State Community College in 1984. While living in Birmingham, she sang in the choir at Stockham Memorial Methodist Church, was active in community theater, and played clarinet in the Birmingham Civic Orchestra. She received a speech and debate scholarship to the University of West Florida, where she was in student government and the Socratic Society. She earned a BA in public relations and advertising (1986) and an MA in communication (1989). She then taught on the communication faculty at Ferris State University (1989–1990) and Clemson University (1990–1994).

In 1994, Armstrong married Stephen Smith, a professor at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville. After moving to Fayetteville, she earned a JD degree from the University of Arkansas School of Law in 1998. While in law school, she was editor of the Communication Law Review and held internships with the prosecuting attorney, a circuit judge, the Arkansas attorney general, the Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute, and the White House. After graduation, she served as a law clerk for Judge John Earl Jennings at the Arkansas Court of Appeals and for Judge Richard S. Arnold at the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, before working as an associate at Martin and Keiklak Law Firm in Fayetteville.

Smith returned to academia in 2002 when she was appointed research assistant professor of communication at the University of Arkansas, teaching legal and political communication courses. She was a visiting scholar at Oxford and Cambridge universities, taught in the Junior Statesman program at Yale and Stanford universities, and attended the Executive Education Program at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. She served on the board of directors of the American Communication Association and the Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute, and on the board of governors of Harris-Manchester College, Oxford University. Her research was presented at national and international conferences, winning several top paper awards, and her research was published in Communication Teacher, Journal of Communication Studies, American Communication Journal, Communication Law Review, The Encyclopedia of American Law, and Free Speech Yearbook.

After serving as president of the Washington County Democratic Women, Smith announced for an open seat for representative from District 92 in Fayetteville when Representative Jan Judy was term-limited. Her campaign platform included a commitment to “strengthening public schools and higher education, protecting our environment, funding public libraries, enhancing cultural resources, preserving our community heritage, improving the quality of life for working families, assuring open government, and implementing ethical campaign practices.” She was unopposed in the 2004 Democratic primary and general election. She won reelection in 2006 with seventy-three percent (4,280–1,591) in the general election. In 2008, Smith was again unopposed for reelection to the House, and she was elected as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention. During her three terms in the House, Smith served on the standing committees on Transportation; Agriculture, Forestry, and Economic Development; Revenue and Taxation; Judiciary; and State Agencies and Governmental Affairs. She was also chair of the Joint Performance Review Committee.

Smith’s first bill expanded coverage of the Workers Compensation Act to include work-related neck injuries that had been previously excluded (Act 1250 of 2005). Her major legislative accomplishments included two measures intended to enhance citizen participation in government and public affairs by protecting citizens exercising First Amendment rights from frivolous strategic lawsuits against public participation (Act 1843 of 2005) and awarding expenses to citizens who prevail in Freedom of Information Act enforcement litigation (Act 440 of 2009). On environmental issues, she sponsored legislation expanding the Arkansas Wetlands Mitigation Bank (Act 476 of 2007), requiring utility net metering provisions for renewable energy sources (Act 1026 of 2007), and establishing the Heritage Trails System (Act 728 of 2009). Smith sponsored several bills to protect victims of domestic violence (Act 1875 of 2005, Act 682 of 2007, and Act 619 of 2009), as well as protecting women’s health by requiring health insurance policies to cover prescriptions for contraceptives (Act 2217 of 2005) and requiring employers to provide unpaid break time and reasonable locations for expressing breast milk (Act 621 of 2009).

Appropriation measures to benefit citizens of Fayetteville sponsored by Smith included bills providing General Improvement Funds for KUAF Public Radio, the UA Diane D. Blair Center of Southern Politics & Society, the Special Collections Department of UA Mullins Library, the UA Pryor Center for Arkansas Oral and Visual History, Seven Hills Homeless Shelter, Fayetteville Scull Creek Trail, Fayetteville Fine Arts Festival, Peace at Home Family Shelter, Ozark Guidance Center, Single Parent Scholarship Fund, and the Fayetteville Public Library.

Among other legislative efforts that Smith considered significant were her unsuccessful attempt to add sexual orientation to the classes protected by the Arkansas Civil Rights Act (HB 2751, 2005) and her sponsorship of the unsuccessful effort to secure ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 2005, 2007, and 2009.

Smith was named National Legislator of the Month in October 2005 by the Center for Policy Alternatives and was honored as Arkansas Sierra Club Legislator of the Year for her one-hundred-percent environmental voting record in 2005. Other honors included the Visionary Leader Award from the NWA Workers Justice Center, the ERArkansas People’s Hero Award, the American Association of University Women Mary McDorman Burton Award, the Arkansas Coalition Against Domestic Violence Legislative Award, and the Business and Professional Women of Arkansas Recognition of Service to Women’s Equality. In 2013, she was honored as a Washington County Woman of History.

Smith was director of the “Women in the Arkansas General Assembly” biographical project, funded by the UA Women’s Giving Circle and supported by the Diane D. Blair Center of Southern Politics & Society. After being term-limited in the House of Representatives, Smith served as communication director for the City of Fayetteville for six years. In 2015, she became president of Oxbridge Research Associates, a research, consulting, and academic publishing firm.

For additional information:
Gill, Todd. “Lindsley Smith Hired as Communications Director.” Fayetteville Flyer, August 7, 2009. https://www.fayettevilleflyer.com/2009/08/07/lindsley-smith-hired-as-communications-director/ (accessed September 4, 2021).

Hightower, Lara. “Lindsley Armstrong Smith: Learning, Law Shape Her Legacy.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (Northwest), June 4, 2017.

Lindsley Armstrong Smith Papers, MC 1910, Mullins Library Special Collections, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.

Rice, Maylon. “Democratic Divas: A Trio of True Blue Democrats amid Arkansas’ Red Sea of Republicans.” The Sound (Fayetteville, Arkansas), January 2005, pp. 12–14.

Stephen A. Smith
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

Last Updated: 09/04/2021

Entry