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Three candidates seek appointment to Messer's District 2 seat

Three candidates are seeking the appointment to the seat on the Henderson County Board of Commissioners made vacant by the death of Charlie Messer.

The Republican Party’s executive committee meets on July 30 to choose a party member who lives in District 2 to fill Messer’s unexpired term and to appear on the ballot on Nov. 3 as the Republican nominee.
The candidates are Daniel Andreotta, cofounder and managing partner of Integrity Financial Group; Jennifer Capps Balkcom, who has been a banker and mortgage loan officer for the past 22 years; and Sheila Franklin, a middle school career tech teacher who serves on the Fletcher Town Council.
The executive committee meeting on July 30 is not open to the public, said Republican Party Chair Merry Guy. The committee is made up of elected officials, party officers and the chairs of the county’s 35 voting precincts.
“We will take nominations from the floor and the nominations must come from a voting member of the executive committee, as will the second," she said. "The person who makes the nomination will be allowed three minutes to speak and then the candidate will be allowed to speak for five. We do not plan a question and answer at this meeting."

Messer, who died July 10, had filed for re-election for a sixth term on the Board of Commissioners. Party leaders hope to nominate one person to fill the unexpired term and run for the seat in the fall.
“That is certainly our desire,” Guy said. “There will be a motion from the committee to approve the same person. If there is no objection, that will be the same name.”
The nominee must win 50 percent of the vote plus one, so if no one wins a majority on the first ballot, the top two will run on a second ballot. Executive committee members vote secret ballots that are “turned into the tally committee, who will count them in front of everybody.” The name then goes to the Board of Commmissioners, which under state law must appoint the person party leaders have chosen.
“All three of the people I have talked to are very qualified and would fit in well with the existing board,” Guy said. “It’s a good problem that we’ve got so many people qualified that are interested.”

Here are sketches of the candidates:

Daniel Andreotta

A native of Henderson County, Andreotta, 53, is chair of the Northeast Hendersonville precinct and has served on the executive committee since 2015.
“I want to be a good steward of the taxpayer because it is the people’s money,” he said in an interview. “The county doesn’t have any money to spend until they collect it from the people. It is the people’s money."
“Growth is here to stay,” he added. “I want to see us have positive growth that will benefit everyone one including everyone when I’m gone.”
In a resume he sent to party leaders, Andreotta said he supports law enforcement and first responders, knows how the county works and knows finance and economics. He says he “can and will win in November.”
Andreotta and his wife, who live in Windsor Hills off Clear Creek Road, have three children and six grandchildren.

Jennifer Capps Balkcom

A Henderson County native and graduate of East Henderson High School, Balkcom has been a banker at Mountain 1st Bank & Trust, United Federal Credit Union and Mountain Credit Union and was a mortgage loan officer at Movement Mortgage before moving to Alcova Mortgage a year ago.
She is currently treasurer of the Mortgage Bankers Association of Western North Carolina, a member of the Henderson County Chamber of Commerce, the Henderson County Board of Realtors, Hendersonville Women’s Club, the Fletcher Area Business Association, the Henderson County Republican Women’s Club, the Lions Club and the Henderson County Planning Board. She serves on the board of directors of the Henderson County Education Foundation and AdventHealth, and volunteers at St. Gerard House, the school for autistic children. She earned an associates degree in business administration, banking and finance from Blue Ridge Community College. She lives on Canterbury Way in Naples with her husband, Clint, and their son, Douglas.
The daughter of Kathy Ward and Ronnie Capps, Balkcom has deep roots in the county. Her great-grandfather, Zollie Ward, served in the Hendersonville Police Department for more than 25 years. Her grandfather, Milo Ward, served as a Henderson County commissioner and was one of the founders of the Dana Fire Department along with her grandmother, June Ward, who “was critical in building what you know today as Blue Ridge Community College.”
“My family also donated the land to Henderson County, for what you know as the Dana Community Center & Park,” she told executive committee members in an email. “With that said, I too, want to serve and give to my community.” She asked for committee members’ support, adding, “I can win the ticket come November!”

Sheila Franklin

Franklin, a board-certified career tech teacher at Apple Valley Middle School, counts Charlie Messer as a friend and mentor.
“I wouldn’t even have considered this and I hadn’t considered it until I was contacted by some very influential leaders in the community who I have a high amount of respect for,” she said in an interview. “There was one and then there was another and then there was another.”
She was honored to be recruited “because Charlie’s shoes, you can’t fill them,” she said. “He was like a mentor to me. I was involved with incorporation and a couple of different boards,” including the Fletcher Zoning Board of Adjustment and Planning Board. “All the while Charlie was a mentor during those early days,” she said. Messer and another former board member urged her to run for the Fletcher Town Council in 2009.
A native of Buncombe County and a 1978 graduate of T.C. Roberson High School, Franklin has family roots in Hoopers Creek, has lived in Henderson County since she was 22 and has been a teacher for 20 years. She earned a bachelor’s degree in business management from Mars Hill University. She lives on Jackson Road in Fletcher.
She serves on the boards of Henderson County Water & Sewer Committee, the Henderson County Partnership for Economic Development and the Fletcher Fire Department. Among her achievements on the Fletcher Town Board, she said, are the new town hall, initiating the recycling program and starting a shred event/pill drop.
“The passing of Charlie Messer was such a shock and it’s only been days since family, friends and many in our county have been in prayer and paid respect to a man who was truly one of the strongest advocates the community has ever had,” she said in an email to executive committee members. “His work and legacy will always be evident in our schools and parks as these were areas he felt strongly about. I will forever be grateful for his encouragement, mentorship and supporting me when I became actively involved in municipal government many years ago.”
“We all understand the need for a strong, experienced presence in this position. I consider it an honor and am humbled to be called upon,” she added. “While working in the Fletcher community, my mission has always been to maintain/improve the quality of life for its residents through our services and making difficult decisions to balance town growth and infrastructure. I have a personal interest in the safety and security of our county and economic development.”