Patricia Roberts (Patti) Julian (1955–)
Patricia Roberts was born in 1955 in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Marion “Mickey” Knowles Roberts, who was a homemaker, and David Earl Roberts, a real estate agent and businessman. She attended public schools in North Little Rock, graduating from North Little Rock Northeast High School in 1973. Attending the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), she received a BSBA in accounting in 1977 and a JD in 1980.
Roberts married fellow attorney Jim Julian in 1980. After graduation from law school, her first job was with Touche Ross CPAs in Memphis, Tennessee. In 1983, she returned to Arkansas and worked for one year at the Arkansas Securities Department and then five years as a governmental affairs attorney for Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield, also serving on the Health Law Committee of the Arkansas Bar Association. In 1989, she became a stay-at-home mom raising their daughter, Katy.
Julian was an active community service volunteer as a board member of Potluck Food Rescue, on the steering committee of Arkansas Race for the Cure, and on the fundraising committees for the Penick Boys and Girls Club and the North Little Rock Unit of the American Cancer Society. She was also a trustee of the Cathedral School and treasurer of the Junior League of North Little Rock. Her first public service position was as an appointee to two terms on the North Little Rock Wastewater Treatment Commission.
Public service was a family tradition. Her father was a member of the Arkansas House of Representatives from 1973 to 1992. She often took phone messages from his constituents and discussed with him how to solve problems and issues surrounding pending legislation.
Julian developed her political skills as the campaign coordinator for North Little Rock City Attorney Paul Suskie in his 2006 Democratic primary race for attorney general. She credited her friend and mentor, state Senator Mary Anne Salmon, as being very influential in her decision to become a candidate for the state legislature.
Julian announced as a candidate for the Arkansas House in 2012 and was unopposed in the Democratic primary. In the general election, her campaign addressed economic development, education, and healthcare. She called for more funding for public education and increased salaries for teachers, as well as committing to expanded Medicaid coverage in Arkansas under the Affordable Healthcare Act. Julian was elected over three opponents: Republican Dean DiMichele, Libertarian Debrah Standiford, and Independent Bill Laman.
In the 2013 session and special sessions in 2013 and 2014, Julian served on the committees on Public Transportation; Aging, Children, and Youth; and Legislative and Military Affairs. She was a co-sponsor of legislation to reduce the state sales and use tax on food (Act 1450 of 2013), and said that she was most proud of her efforts to pass Arkansas Works, enabling the state to provide federally funded private health insurance for low–income families. Julian recommended considering diversion and treatment programs rather than building new prisons, and she argued (albeit unsuccessfully) against the twelve-week and twenty-week abortion bans that were later declared unconstitutional, because they “take choices away from the women in this state.” On the floor of the House, she asked her colleagues “to leave choice in the hands of the people it belongs to—those people who would choose to carry children if they knew they would be healthy, happy, welcomed, loved babies.” Julian was also an advocate for pay equity for women, contending that “ensuring equal pay isn’t just good for women; it’s good for our children and our families.”
Running for reelection in 2014, Julian was unopposed in the Democratic primary. She lost in the general election by 321 votes to Sherwood Republican Reverend Donnie Copeland of the North Little Rock Apostolic Pentecostal Church. She was later hired as the legislative lobbyist for the Arkansas Bar Association.
For additional information:
Martin, Candace. “Arkansas Dems: State Reps Sabin, Julian Outline Goals to Improve Pay Equity in Arkansas.” Democratic Party of Arkansas press release, August 23, 2013.
Patti Julian Biographical Information Sheet, Women Legislators Project, January 17, 2020. Lindsley Armstrong Smith Papers, MC 1910. Special Collections, University of Arkansas.
“Patti Julian Is the Association’s New Lobbyist.” Arkansas Lawyer (Fall 2016): 4.
Wire, Sarah D. “Candidates Outline Goals for State.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, September 23, 2012, p. 17.
Lindsley Armstrong Smith and Stephen A. Smith
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
Last Updated: 05/20/2021