former NC legislators in other states: update

A few months back, I posted about three former North Carolina state legislators now serving in legislatures of other states.  Now, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) has written an article in its monthly magazine about those three, along with two former members from other states. That link is probably publicly accessible, a longer version of the article is probably behind a subscription wall.

The former North Carolinians, who all served in the 1989 North Carolina General Assembly, along with the states they now serve in the legislature of, are: Peggy Wilson (Alaska), Richard Chalk (South Carolina) and David Balmer (Colorado). 

Some excerpts from both versions:

For a woman who had “no interest in politics whatsoever, ” Representative Peggy Wilson of Alaska finds herself in the somewhat extraordinary position of having served in not one, but two state legislatures.

It’s not uncommon for the average U.S. citizen to move from state to state in an increasingly mobile society. What is unusual, however, is for state legislators—who tend to be deeply rooted in their communities—to move out of state. Even more rare is when that legislator ends up serving in his or her newly adopted state’s legislature. A recent NCSL survey found that in addition to Wilson, four other representatives have served in two state legislatures each.

Five state representatives who have had the privilege of serving in two state legislatures could never have predicted their unlikely career paths.  Although each possesses a desire to serve, in many cases, serendipity played a big role … Representative Peggy Wilson of Alaska was practically dragged, kicking and screaming, into politics.  Her husband wanted her to run after losing his own bid to serve in the North Carolina General Assembly in the mid-1980s.

“I said, ‘absolutely not!'” she recalls.  “I told him I don’t like politics, I’m not a politician, and I don’t like politicians.”

Wilson believes that attitude probably helped her win her legislative seats, after she reluctantly changed her mind about running. She attributes her success in both North Carolina and Alaska to being “a plain, ordinary person.”

“I don’t pretend I’m a big hot-shot politician,” she says.  “I’m just me.  I like to help people.”

If not for the generosity of a local businessman, Representative Richard E. Chalk, Jr. of South Carolina may never have served in one state legislature, let alone two.  In January of 1984, he lived in High Point, N.C., where he worked and attended local Republican Party meetings.  Just one week before the filing deadline, a fellow Republican told Chalk he’d make a good candidate for an open seat.  Chalk balked.  He’d recently started a new business and had a young family.

“I literally couldn’t pay the filing fee,” he recalls.

A local businessman came forward to pay the filing fee. Chalk won the seat. And a legislative career was born.  He served in the North Carolina House and Senate before moving to South Carolina, where he is now serving his second term in the House …

Working as a student on Republican campaigns led Colorado Representative David Balmer to run for an open seat in the North Carolina General Assembly in 1988.  But his real passion was for the military – he’s a member of the Army Reserve – and the private sector, which he found more rewarding.

In 1996, his company transferred him to Denver and although he was involved in the community, he thought his days of public service were over.  But after 9/11 and a deployment to Afghanistan, he felt a calling to help to secure the homeland. 

“September 11th and serving in Afghanistan changed me,” he says.  “I said, What do I want to do and what do I want to give back?”

With the encouragement of his fellow Republicans, he decided to run for an open seat in 2004.  Re-elected last year, Balmer now is assistant minority leader in the Colorado House.

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