With grad school in its final six weeks, and the big oral comprehensive exam coming up on Wednesday, it's probably a good idea to step back a bit and focus on trying to get graduated.
Today's contribution to the Blogland is our Inside Interview with Lexington County State Rep. Nikki Haley.
Her political career got started in the most unusual of ways when she toppled former Rep. Larry Koon, who was then the longest-serving member of the State House with over thirty years' service. Nowadays, she is considered by many to be a rising star and one of the more outspoken conservatives in the House, where she is wrapping up her second term.
According to her bio on her website:
Born in Bamberg, S.C., Nikki graduated from Clemson University with a B.S. degree in accounting. She currently serves as Chief Financial Officer for her family’s clothing company, Exotica International, Inc. Nikki also currently serves on the board of directors for the Lexington Medical Foundation, Mt. Horeb United Methodist Church Medmission, and the Lexington County Meth Taskforce. She is a member of the Lexington County Chamber of Commerce, Lexington Rotary Club, National Association of Women Business Owners, West Metro Republican Women, Lexington County Republican Party and the NRA.
Not only that, but she's also a regular Blogland reader, which means she's pretty cool in our book.
Recently, she decided to sit down and take a few questions from us ... so let's see what she had to say for herself ...
Q - What have been your biggest accomplishments as a legislator?
1. My hope is that I have given a stronger voice to small businesses and working people across this state. I believe in the value of a dollar and consistently work to fight against wasteful spending in Columbia. We should stretch tax-dollars as much as we can. We live by a budget in our home, and it’s time we started doing the same in the State House. I have been a consistent voice on that front for the past three years.
2. Small business owners are unsung heroes in this state that we should appreciate for all that they contribute to our economy. I worked towards true workers comp reform in this state last year to level the playing field by allowing for more accountability and fairness in the system. The workers comp reform we passed lifts an unfair burden from small business owners and helps them create new jobs for our families.
3. We heard the cries from the coast as we watched families losing their homes due to the rising costs of insurance. I worked on coastal insurance reform. We were able to maintain a healthy market while allowing relief to coastal residents to protect their homes and their wallets.
I continue to believe those three issues alone helped improve the quality of life for residents across the state, and I was proud to participate on those fronts.
Q - Your first race was considered a long-shot against a long-time incumbent, but you prevailed anyway. To what would you attribute your win? What did you learn from that race?
That race will always serve as a reminder to me of the goodness of people. The residents of District 87 respected and appreciated the service of the incumbent who had been in office for thirty years; however they allowed me the opportunity to talk about what I would bring to the table that would be different. It was a long and hard race.
More than anything it taught me that even when races go negative, people are smart enough to see through that. My promise to the people of District 87 was that the work ethic that they saw from me in the 2004 race would be the same that I would show if given the opportunity to represent them at the Statehouse. I have worked to keep that promise, and hope that I have made them proud.
Q - Which issues are priorities for you and/or your District?
Priorities in spending and tax relief will always be important to me. Road funding is becoming more crucial given that our roads and bridges are among the worst in the country. Growing districts like mine struggle with traffic needs and maintaining the growth of the area without sacrificing quality of life.
Small business health care reform is also important. We need to work harder to allow business owners to offer employee benefits so that they can maintain their competitiveness with larger corporations.
Education reform is also important so that all children across this state have the same opportunities as the children who live in Lexington District 1.
Q - What do you see as issues which aren’t being addressed, but should be?
I don't think that enough emphasis is being put on our tax structure in this state. It has been piece-mealed for years and we are starting to pay the price. Tax reform on all levels will continue to be an issue I care about and work on. Small business issues are key to the economic strength of South Carolina. Whether it is allowing them to be competitive in benefits, to workers comp reform, to tax relief I think that government continues to take for granted small businesses that work so hard to be productive and contribute to our state's economy.
Q - Do you have any thoughts about bloggers and other “new media” outlets?
I think that bloggers have become an interesting dynamic in the world of politics. They have the ability to be unfiltered in a way that the mainstream media can't. Dialogue in a way that allows people to get involved and express themselves is a great way to encourage people to realize their voice as it pertains to government. I think the most valuable part of the blogosphere is the fact that they are showing people the power of their voice and how they can influence those that represent them in government.
Q - What are your plans for 2008?
My hope each year is to be a better person. I want to be a better wife, mom, daughter, friend, business person and legislator. I try to learn from my mistakes and make each year better than the one before it. I have a need to feel that I am contributing to the quality of life of those around me in some way. My goal continues to be to let the people of South Carolina know that I am here for them and that hopefully I can make their lives a little better for it through my service.
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?
My musical tastes are all across the board. Music is an outlet for me so I am always listening to something different. Currently in my disc changer I have cds by John Mayer, the Killers, Snow Patrol, Hinder, Plain White T's and Lenny Kravitz. I love the 80s and will listen to an 80s station every chance I get. I can't say that I have a favorite at the moment. My music reflects my mood, so often it depends on the day!
... wonder what we might get on a bad day? Black Sabbath?
Seriously folks, this is a great interview and we appreciate Nikki taking the time to share it with us.