Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson: Dedicated to serving others

Published: Feb. 26, 2021 at 10:54 PM PST
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CARSON CITY, Nev. (KOLO) - From dodging bullets in his Compton, California community to scoring touchdowns under Coach Chris Ault.

Now, Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson is focused on helping Nevadans recover from this devastating pandemic. He has a unique journey to this position, saying he always knew his destiny was to serve and improve the lives of those around him.

Frierson is a family man, “I have two kids, they’re my world. My daughter is 6 and my son is 8, they’re definitely the children of two lawyers,” he states. Also a public servant, adding, “It was because I saw problems that I was frustrated about and felt like the best way to address those was to get in there and advocate to fix them.” And a California transplant that calls the Silver State home, “Nevada has been very good to me both Northern and Southern Nevada.”

As a legislator, Assembly Speaker Frierson has a unique perspective living in our area for a decade before moving to the southern part of the state. Let’s backtrack first to his humble upbringing in between rival gang territory in southern California.

“I had friends I played Pop Warner Football with from both neighborhoods so I’ve always been drawn to that type of advocacy,” he recalls.

Frierson tells me he knew he would leave Compton. Thanks in part to his football skills, he wouldn’t have to travel too far, earning a full scholarship to Nevada, ”I went from a predominantly African American city at the time to a campus of 183 African American students in its entirety and that was back in ’87 and ’88. It’s so different from when I first moved here, and it just tickles me to see the diversity and the community engagement,” he says proudly of Washoe County’s growth.

He played under Coach Ault from 1988 to 1991, until injuring his knee. Eventually law school called his name at UNLV, then he worked up the ranks in Las Vegas public service.

“I was asked to lobby on behalf of Clark County and the public defender’s office in 2007, and at some point then Speaker Barbara Buckley was winding down her legislative career and in front of hundreds of people, asked me when I was running for office,” he explains.

History followed. In the November 2016 elections, Frierson became the first Black person to hold this position, telling KOLO 8, “It is overwhelming. I’m proud. I’m humbled. I recognize that I’ve had life experiences that no Speaker before me has had.”

Obstacles that are far from over, as the nation continues to battle a renewed racial reckoning, adding, “We’ve been waiting for people to be willing to stand up for something, not just because it impacted them but because it was just unjust and so it’s been moving, it’s been inspiring. You see as a public defender firsthand the inequities of the system. I’ve been dodging bullets since 84, I’ve been waiting for everyone else to catch up and care about it, it’s always been real to me.”

Frierson says we’re in a social justice movement that’s not going away, “It doesn’t have to be anti-law enforcement that’s not the point. The point is rethinking how we protect our community and how we partner in our community,” he explains.

For Frierson, hardships are nothing new. He says he’s grateful for his loved ones, his staff members and a resilient group of lawmakers determined to press forward.

“If I’m the last I did not do my job, plain and simple,” he states firmly.

Frierson is hoping that he’s a gateway for more people of color and women to fill the next wall of leaders in the Battle Born state. He is currently serving his third term in the role.

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