Earlier this month I visited again with a the “newest group” of “It Kids” at Dutch Fork High School. By now, you know that a long list of elected officials that have visited Kelly Payne’s classroom over the past several months.

If you think this is some “softball question and answer session”, you’re sorely mistaken.  Also known as the “Den of Payne”, this classroom is full of tomorrow’s leaders and these kids stay keenly in tune to issues at all levels: local, state and federal.

In addition to Ms. Payne’s class, Ms. Laurie Humprhey (Student Government Advisor) works with the Student Council to prepare them to fulfill the school’s motto “Enter to Learn; Go Forth to Serve!”  Serve, they do.  Speaking at this year’s induction ceremony, I saw three Dutch Fork Alumns who now are Student Body Presidents at USC, Clemson and Newberry!


Student Questions for Rep. Nathan Ballentine (9/9/2010)

What has been the most “explosive issue” you’ve dealt with in your political career?

Young people in South Carolina have grown up in an interracial culture. This can be a radioactive topic that sparks negative feelings in older generations. Is there any racial tension within the Legislature, and if so has it affected the ability to make decisions collaboratively?

Ryan McPhail:
How does government maintain the loyalty of the public in a representative republic?

“Politics has poisoned the well.” What is politics? Is it possible to have discussions over policy and over whether to trust governments, that aren’t “political?”

If the problem is that we elect bad officials, should the public blame these officials or start changing what kind of officials it elects?

According to South Carolina state law can you go to jail for harassing someone via text message or on a social networking site like Facebook? How does the Constitution written 200 years before Facebook and texting apply to the digital world today?

Since January 2009, 23 states including South Carolina have increased tobacco taxes. Slapping new taxes on tobacco, alcohol and soda is a good way for states to raise money. But does it change behavior? In other words do sin taxes work and should the government be in the business of regulating behavior?

Do you think it’s more politically attractive to tax tobacco than groceries? Would you support an increase in the grocery tax to generate more revenue for the state?

Kristen Carle

Do you support offshore drilling, and after April’s massive spill in the Gulf of Mexico should the U.S. halt offshore drilling?


A New Jersey law now requires teen drivers to identify themselves by sticking a red decal on their license plates. It’s the first law of its kind in the nation. Some teens think the decals make us easy targets for criminals. Would support a similar law in South Carolina? If so what would your reasoning be?

Josh Driskell

We hear you are a big fan of “Twitter”. Ashton Kutcher has more than 5 million followers on Twitter. How many followers do you have and what sparked your interest in social networking?


You’re known as a Governor Sanford ally. In your opinion what could the governor have done or not done to stay out of South Carolina textbooks as an ineffective governor?


With less than 2 months until Election Day on November 2nd, we’re in the midst of what my teacher calls the “silly season”. Has the media been “rough” on your ally Representative Nikki Haley? If so….are all public servants fair game? Why or why not?


You played a leading role in spearheading government transparency with voting on the record. You endured substantial retribution from the Leadership in the House. Increased transparency, however, doesn’t seem to be a goal shared by much of the political establishment. Do you see a light at the end of the tunnel? And was the good fight worth it in the end?


There are many unintended consequences that have resulted from South Carolina receiving federal stimulus money. How have those unintended consequences affected public school system?


You are a mortgage broker and your industry has been the recipient of recent government regulation. Is it fair for the government to give financial aid to some citizens and not others? Why/why not?


Aside from concern for the environment, what are some other reasons for favoring government support of renewable energy? What are some arguments against it?


If politicians compete with each other by making promises that cannot be fulfilled, is the system to blame, the politicians, or the electorate? Please explain.


What is the difference between believing that our system of government is flawed and believing that the Republican and Democratic officials we have been electing have betrayed public trust? Which of these things do you believe? Which of these things does Nikki Haley believe? And Senator Vincent Sheheen?

20: Dayvon:

What happens to employment when wages are kept artificially high?

Sir Malcom:

What policies do you support that would help us recover from the current recession?


Do you plan on seeking an other political office in the future? If yes, what are your goals?

Kristen Starks:

What would happen if political parties were weakened? Would that be a good thing or a bad thing? Please explain.


What are special interests? Are political parties’ special interests? And do you support them?

Ryan Wilkinson:

Starting soon voters will be challenged to discern who is telling the truth and the motivations behind the ad campaigns. Why is this discernment crucial to self-government?


Why do political parties exist? Why don’t candidates just run independently and vote the way they want? Why do elected officials sometimes go against the wishes of their political parties?


Have you always been a Republican? Would you ever consider changing parties or going Independent?


Should candidates and political parties have more rights to attempt to persuade people during elections than corporations and issue advocacy groups? What about newspaper editors?