Rep.-elect Jennifer Balkcom, R-Henderson, will be taking over the seat formerly held by Reps. Tim Moffitt and Chuck McGrady, representing the majority of Henderson County. She’ll be one of the only people in the legislature who work in the banking industry.
She previously served on the Henderson County planning commission.
What are the current and past jobs you’ve held outside of politics? I have been working in banking for most of my professional life, working my way up from teller, customer service, assistant branch manager, branch manager, vice president, business development manager and now as a mortgage loan officer.
Why did you run for state legislature instead of another elected office you might have considered? I wanted to further serve the folks of Henderson County — where I have lived, worked, and worshiped my entire life. My family goes back many generations here in Henderson County, and I already have strong ties to the community and been active in many area nonprofits. When the N.C. House seat became open due to Rep. Tim Moffitt running for NC Senate, I saw it as an opportunity to serve my community in a new and meaningful way.
If you could enact a single piece of legislation into law today, what would it be? To protect and preserve North Carolina’s farmland. Over the last 25 years, our state has seen an average of 500 farms per year lost to residential and commercial development. It’s an issue that’s near and dear to my heart: I grew up on a farm and my family continues to run our farm today.
Where do you most enjoy taking an out-of-town visitor in your district? If they are inclined to enjoy the out-of-doors, there is no shortage of trails to hike and waterfalls to explore in Henderson County. My favorite is DuPont State Forest. Thanks to the vision and hard work my predecessor, Rep. Chuck McGrady, DuPont State Forest has become the crown jewel of North Carolina’s state parks. And soon, we’ll have the Ecusta Trail — a 20-mile greenway that will connect Hendersonville and Brevard. Chuck McGrady, Tim Moffitt, and Sen. (now Congressman-elect) Chuck Edwards were all instrumental in making that happen.
In the fall, we love visiting all the apple farms along Route 64 — picking out pumpkins and eating apple cider donuts. Henderson County is home to over 150 apple orchards. We grow around 80% of North Carolina’s apples, and our apple production ranks as the seventh-largest in America. I’m very proud of that.
Of course, downtown Hendersonville is just wonderful any time of year, especially around the holidays. In many ways, it still exudes the same vintage small-town charm it had when I was growing up. We have world-class restaurants, great shopping, and a regular roster of parades and festivals, particularly the Apple Festival, which is held over the Labor Day weekend.
What is your favorite hobby outside of work? I really enjoy volunteering to help our community. I’ve been involved with many local groups over the years, including The Store House, a local faith-based nonprofit that provides food and other necessities to the less fortunate. I also help out at my youngest son’s school. When I need to step away and take a break from everything, I enjoy running. It’s great exercise and helps clear the mind.
Who do you most admire, and why? My mom. She’s kind, compassionate, smart, strong, independent, funny, and you can always rely on her. She is and always will be my role model.
What's your favorite snack food or beverage to get through long meetings? Old-fashioned sweet tea, salt and vinegar potato chips, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. It’s another reason I do all that running.