Inside Interview: Nathan Ballentine

State Representative Nathan Ballentine has represented a big piece of northwestern Richland County since 2006. A fellow blogger, he took his House seat by knocking out then-Majority Leader Rick Quinn in what was considered an unlikely upset.

A native of Richland County’s Dutch Fork area, he lives in his home turf with his wife Karen, along with three kids: Sarah Katherine (11), son Jonathan Carroll, Jr. (3), and daughter Emma Logan (2).

As we always do in the Blogland, we like to turn the mike over to our guests and see what he’s got to say for himself …

Q - The House starts session in a couple of weeks. What do you see as the big issues when they come back into session?

Personally, it’s Earmark Reform. Everyone who knows me, knows I’m a budget hawk and very tight with my money and our taxpayers money. (I even drive a 1995 car with a broken odometer at 195,000 miles in February last year. The transmission is shot and even some of my colleagues here know it takes a good 3 minute to get into drive before I can move). My constituents have known for years that I want more sunshine in government and less “pork”. We’ll pass something but I want it to have teeth and not be a “feel good” legislation that doesn’t accomplish what the intent is. Outside of fiscal issues, there’s the illegal-immigration issue to address. Although a federal issue, everyone locally wants to do something. To what extent? We each have our own thoughts on that.

Personally, I was alarmed to find a loophole that would allow illegal immigrants to receive scholarships/instate aid. I will file a bill to help tighten that loophole on Day One.

Of course, there’s always education too. Seems everyone is afraid of the “choice” word now. Used to just be one side against “private choice”, now it appears some “public choice” critics are out too. Let’s do SOMETHING and give it a chance. As I’ve said from the floor of the House, I was sent to do SOMETHING, not nothing!

Q - Which issues are priorities for you and your district?

In addition to the above, Earmark Reform (H4356) is a top priority. There’s some other local matters but nothing too earth-shattering.

Q - What do you see as issues which aren’t being addressed, but should be?

We need to do better with Economic Development and we need to do better with “education”. That word is very vague but in general, we need to look at funding (which we finally are), we need to look at testing, we need to look at getting the money to the classroom. We’re gonna continue to meet about these issues but we’re not “addressing” them.

In this election year, I don’t see too many bold stances being taken and certainly not enough time to have the House/Senate/Governor all agree on one approach. Sadly, it appears we’re more re-active than pro-active. Everytime we try to be progressive with some concept/idea to advance our state, the nay-sayers come out of the wordworks. “No” seems to be the default-answer from most officials.

Q - As a blogger yourself, what do you think “new media” brings to the world of politics?

Any elected official or political junkie who says they don’t read the blogs is only lying to himself. Personally, there’s no better way to keep up with the pulse of the entire state than to check the blogs. You do need to be aware of any bias that could exist in some but hey, there’s bias in the main stream media as well. I think blogs are one more way to let more sunshine in. Everyone knows who the writers are but I do wish some of the anonymous posters would be more accountable for what they write, etc. The replies are mostly opinions anyway so why not let yours be heard without hiding behind a screenname? That’s one thing I’d like to see changed.

Q - One of the best things about life in the Midlands is the BBQ. Tell us where you go for BBQ.

I’m not one for pork in our state budget but when it’s my dime paying, I’m ok with either Farm Boys (Chapin) or Hudson’s (Lexington). Now, closer to the State House, you have to admit Maurice Bessinger not only has great BBQ but some pretty good hush puppies too! Pork rinds….gotta mention those.

Q- As you know, music is a big part of what we talk about in the Blogland. What’s your favorite album and/or artist?

Without a doubt, my favorite band is Boston! Of course, their self-titled/debut album is a classic in anyone’s book. I gotta share how great my wife is. The day after we got married, Boston was playing in the Lakewood Amphitheater in Atlanta, GA. Not many new wives would sacrifice a week in the Caribbean for their husband’s favorite band but Karen did. It was one of the best concerts I’ve ever attended!

Outside of that, I’m pretty much a child of the 80s. My friends laughed at me when a few years ago I had my “flashback summer” and saw Buffett, KISS, Def Leppard, and Poison. Who would think a conservative, Southern Baptist like me has that diverse a taste. Sure, I listen to country occasionally, but let’s be honest, most politicians (outside of Texas) who give that answer usually are just playing it safe.

One day, I’d like to get an ipod so I’d be ready for “the question” but I guess I’ll leave that up to my kids for now. Now that I think about it, the last concert I went to was The Wiggles….and I’ve seen them 3 times. That’s what having kids will do to you. It actually was fun seeing it through their eyes though. I passed on the concert T-shirt myself but JC had to have one.

5 Response to "Inside Interview: Nathan Ballentine"

  1. Speaker's mafia 2/1/08 08:25
    You forgot the ask where his loyalties are. The Speaker worries about this one. He seems too independent for our liking.
  2. 67chevy 2/1/08 08:45
    It all sounds pretty good. It would be nice if these "budget hawks" would turn their keen sight and sharp talons towards excessive waste in the military as well.

    Wasteful military spending hurts our troops on the ground and is responsible for many American lives lost.
  3. Nathan 2/1/08 10:54
    Thanks, Earl. Look forward to seeing others interviewed this year and staying up to date on your blog!

    Nathan
    www.nathansnews.com
  4. saint louis missouri moye 2/1/08 20:14
    I have always liked Rick Quinn but I sure wish this dude the best. Hope he gets somewhere in the 1995 car with the bad transmission. Next thing you know he will be sleeping at the state house on a couch. Is he kin to the governor.
  5. Anonymous 3/1/08 00:14
    This is pretty cool stuff. You're doing some good work on your blog. Keep it up.

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