CHAPEL HILL – We’re less than a week away from finding out who our next state representative will be.
Matt Hughes, Chair of the Orange County Democratic Party, says it’s been a busy couple of months since former State Senator Ellie Kinnaird resigned, setting in motion a chain of events that has led up to filling the now vacant North Carolina District 50 House of Representatives seat.
“I didn’t think we’d have this many games of musical chairs. Particularly if certain candidates are chosen for this House seat, we could continue to see a ripple effect.”
Hughes says that someone will be chosen from a field of seven candidates to fill the seat vacated by Valerie Foushee, which represents parts of Orange and Durham Counties.
In September, Foushee was appointed to the Senate District 23 seat formerly held by Kinnaird, who resigned after 9 terms. Kinnaird said that her time could be better spent outside the legislature lobbying for issues she feels strongly about, such as voter registration.
Five Orange County residents announced their intention to seek the House: Tommy McNeill; Chapel Hill Town Council member Laurin Easthom, who is not running for re-election to the Council; attorney Drew Nelson; Orange County Commissioner Bernadette Pelissier; and Graig Meyer, Director of Student Equity and Volunteer Services for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools System.
Two residents from DurhamCounty, Hughes explains, are up for consideration: Travis Phelps, Foushee’s primary opponent from the House race last year; and Danielle Adams, a soil and water conservation supervisor.
Adams is currently seeking the North Carolina 6th Congressional District nomination as well.
A selection committee made up of four Democratic officials is charged with nominating the new House Representative on Thursday, Oct. 24. This process is the same by which Foushee was nominating to the Senate seat.
“I think we have a well-oiled machine at this point in terms of filling vacancies, and I think it’s going to be smooth-sailing,” Hughes says. “We’ll have a thoughtful and deliberate decision, and we will have a well-qualified House candidate.”
Hughes says he believes the domino effect that was began with the vacant senator seat shows how inter-connected our local elected leaders and state leaders have become.
“I don’t know if you see that in every community—where you see elected officials and citizens as well working so closely on state and local issues, and in some cases national issues,” Hughes says.
The selection committee is set to meet at the Orange County Public Library at 7:00 p.m. next Thursday.