Henderson County News: VOTER’S GUIDE: NC House District 117

VOTER’S GUIDE: NC House District 117

Henderson County has two open seats for the Legislative Assembly thanks to incumbents’ decisions to attempt an ascension.

State Senator Chuck Edwards created an opening when he filed for Congress, prompting State Representative Tim Moffitt to run for the main chamber of the General Assembly. This created an open seat of State House District 117. The candidates are Jennifer Capps Balkcom, who won a three-way primary in May to win the Republican nomination, and Michael Greer O’Shea, a music producer and realtor from Mills River.

Balkcom, 43, is married and the father of two boys. A seventh-generation Henderson County native, she grew up on the family farm and has lived here her entire life. She describes herself as “the grateful daughter of Kathy Ward and Ronnie Capps and the lucky daughter-in-law of Dickie King”. A mortgage lender, she also manages the family home building business. Balkcom has served on numerous community boards, currently including the Henderson County Planning Board. The family lives in Naples and belongs to the Hendersonville First Baptist Church.

O’Shea, 35, lives in his hometown of Mills River with his wife, Jennifer, and their two rescue cats. He has spent most of his career in the music and film industries as a producer and sound engineer, and also has a background in real estate as an investor and licensed real estate broker. O’Shea graduated from Western Carolina University in 2009.

Why are you running for the North Carolina Legislative Assembly?

Balkcom: I want to be a sensitive voice at the General Assembly for the citizens of Henderson County. I am inspired by our long tradition of effective representation in both the State Legislative Assembly and the Board of Commissioners, and I will rely on their wisdom and guidance if fortunate enough to be elected. For over 20 years I have held leadership positions, built partnerships and worked closely with others to achieve positive results for Henderson County. And I believe that my long experience of community service and public policy will serve our community in Raleigh well.

O’Shea: I’m running because we need representatives who will prioritize the needs of ordinary people over special corporate interests. I believe in common sense solutions that work for working families. I’m tired of politicians who sow division among neighbors and a General Assembly that enacts extremist policies against the will of a majority in North Carolina. We need representatives who will focus on pragmatic solutions to the problems we face and put people above parties.

There is a lot of talk locally about the preservation of agricultural land and natural open spaces. What do you think the Legislative Assembly can do to protect these lands?

O’Shea: Growing up in Henderson County, I saw too many green spaces and family farms turn into sprawling housing estates over the years. The General Assembly must use economic incentives to promote green space conservation and create incentives and regulatory pathways for housing development that utilizes high density best practices to preserve our open spaces. I also think it’s time for the state to legalize cannabis and do it in a way that prioritizes small growers for permits so that its cultivation is the new cash crop saving the many family farms in Carolina. North instead of being another gift to big farming.

Balkcom: I know firsthand how important family farms are to our food production and food security. Unfortunately, we are losing too much to commercial, industrial and residential overdevelopment. The preservation of agricultural land is very important to me. Representative Tim Moffitt is working on an innovative solution that will solve this problem by creating a trust fund to purchase development rights at no cost to the taxpayer. This will keep the land for agricultural purposes, free from financial pressures to develop it. I support this effort and look forward to working with Tim Moffitt next year to make it a success.

The Dobbs Case Overthrowing Roe v. Wade opened the door for state legislatures to ban or impose restrictions on abortion. What changes to North Carolina’s abortion laws, if any, would you support?

Balkcom: I am pro-life and will vote accordingly if elected.

O’Shea: I believe your health decisions should be made by you and your doctor. There is simply no room in your doctor’s office for you, your doctor and the NC General Assembly. The simple truth is that you cannot ban abortion – just safe abortion. Nobody wants to be faced with this extremely difficult decision, but in many cases it is a life-saving medical procedure and if we really want to respect personal freedom, politicians must trust people and their healthcare professionals. health to make health care decisions. .

In 2021, the North Carolina Senate passed the Open Government Act to improve the state’s open records law for public employee firings and/or demotions? Are you in favor of the act?

O’Shea: In general, I believe that greater transparency in government is good for democracy. The North Carolina Press Association and the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters have expressed support for this bill, and I am inclined to follow their lead on this issue. Due to the potentially sensitive nature of the information that would be made public, we need to monitor the matter and ensure that there are protections for employees and an appeals process in place in case managers use these disclosures. in a defamatory manner.

Balkcom: Yes.

Robert M. Larson