Senate Seat Hopefuls To Meet Wednesday,With Final Vote Sept 8

By Elizabeth Friend Posted August 26, 2013 at 12:15 am

CHAPEL HILL- Democratic Party officials will take two weeks to decide who will replace former state senator Ellie Kinnaird.

Matt Hughes, chair of the Orange County Democratic party, says plans are in place to appoint someone to fill the empty seat.

“I’m very optimistic that most of the concerns and the things that people are uncertain about will be cleared up pretty soon,” says Hughes.

The four-member committee charged with making the appointment will hold an information session for the public and potential candidates this Wednesday at the Post Office/Courthouse on East Franklin Street. Then, the committee will meet in the Chatham Community Library on September 8 to make nominations and formally vote.

Ellie Kinnaird announced last week she would step down from her seat in the Senate representing District 23, a position she held for 17 years.

Since then more than half a dozen people have put their names forward for consideration. The decision will be made by the Democratic Party’s District 23 Executive Committee, made up of two representatives from Orange and two from Chatham County.

But depending on whom the committee chooses, the selection of a successor could launch a new round of appointments.

Carrboro mayor Mark Chilton is not seeking re-election, but his current term runs through December. If he were to take the senate seat, the Board of Aldermen could choose to appoint someone to serve as mayor until the winner of the November election is sworn in. Current mayor pro-tem Lydia Lavelle is the lone candidate in the mayor’s race.

Hughes says if current House Representative Valerie Foushee makes the move to the senate, state party leaders will once again be responsible for choosing a replacement.

“There’s another committee of the Democratic Party, two representatives from Durham and two representatives from Orange, who would move forward with the process to fill that vacancy for House District 50,” says Hughes.

In addition to Chilton and Foushee, five others have declared their interest in the open Senate seat, including former State Representative Alice Bordsen, former Carrboro mayor Jim Porto, attorney Heidi Chapman, author and activist Amy Tiemann, and attorney Lynette Hartsell.

However, that list could grow, as eligible candidates can come forward at any time up until the start of the September 8 meeting.

At Wednesday’s information session, candidates will have three minutes each to make a statement. They’ll also face questions from the committee and there is time set aside for public comment. That meeting starts at 7 o’clock in the old Courthouse at 179 East Franklin Street.

To learn more about the appointment process, click here.

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