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Graig Meyer Appointed To N.C. House District 50 Seat

HILLSBOROUGH- Democratic Party representatives from Orange and Durham counties met Thursday to appoint Graig Meyer to fill the N.C. House District 50 seat formerly occupied by Valerie Foushee.

Meyer is a Chapel Hill-Carrboro school administrator and coordinator of the Blue Ribbon Mentor Advocate program. He says he’s ready to usher in a new wave of Democratic leadership to help win back control of the General Assembly.

“We need Democratic leadership for the state of North Carolina that does more to promote our future than to think about where we are today or our past,” says Meyer. “We need Democratic leadership that thinks about where the state of North Carolina is going to be in twenty, thirty or fifty years.”

Meyer thanks the committee following his appointment to the N.C. House.

Meyer thanks the committee following his appointment to the N.C. House.

Meyer was one of seven candidates seeking the appointment. In the first round of voting, the four member executive committee split its votes between Meyer, attorney Drew Nelson, Orange County Commissioner Bernadette Pelissier, Chapel Hill Town Council member Laurin Easthom, and Durham Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor Danielle Adams. Candidates Travis Phelps and Tommy McNeill did not receive any votes.

After just a few moments of negotiation, the committee united behind Meyer, appointing him unanimously in the second round of voting.

Meyer’s appointment fills the House seat left vacant when Valerie Foushee was named last month to represent N.C. Senate District 23, taking the place of long-serving former State Senator Ellie Kinnaird.

The term of office expires in December of next year, but Meyer says he plans to run to keep the seat representing most of rural Orange and Northern Durham counties.

“To win the seat in District 50 requires you to get out and get to know people all across the district,” says Meyers. “This district is like microcosm of North Carolina: urban, rural, farmers, scientists- it’s a real mix. You have to make sure you can represent all those people and be aware of all the issues that impact the different communities in District 50. If you can do that, you can solve the problems faced all across North Carolina.”

Because the General Assembly is not in session until May 14, 2014, Meyer could find himself defending his new position in the May 6 primary before the legislature even convenes.

The Democratic Executive Committee will submit Meyer’s name to Governor Pat McCrory for appointment. The governor has a week to make the appointment official, but should he fail to do so, Meyer would automatically assume the office.


Field Of Potential Nominees Likely Set For Dist 50 House

CHAPEL HILL – Matt Hughes, Chair of the Orange County Democratic Party, says the field of potential nominees is likely set for the now vacant N.C. House of Representatives District 50 seat.

Names on that list include Orange County Commissioner Bernadette Pelissier, attorney Drew Nelson, and Graig Meyer, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools’ Director of Student Equity and Volunteer Services. Hughes says one additional person is still contemplating throwing their name in the hat, but he can’t reveal anything more.

At noon Wednesday, Valerie Foushee’s resignation from the State House took effect. She was then sworn into the state Senate District 23 seat, previously held by nine-term senator Ellie Kinnaird.

A selection committee is charged with nominating a replacement for Foushee in the House. The group is made up of four Democratic officials from District 50, which encompasses parts of rural Orange and Durham Counties.

Meyer resigned his seat on the committee to seek appointment to the House. Once his spot is filled, a date will be set to choose who will take the seat in the House.

“We will be having a meeting on October 1 to select the fourth committee member that will help in turn to select the new member of the House of Representatives from District 50,” Hughes says.

Hughes hopes to have a new District 50 representative named by October 14 or 15.


“Domino Effect” For Local Senate And House Seats

ORANGE COUNTY – We’ve had some shake-ups following former state Senator Ellie Kinnaird’s resignation. In less than a month, Representative Valerie Foushee was appointed to the Senate, and in turn, the process to fill her seat is underway.

Ted Benson, Chair of the Fourth Congressional District, is charged with overseeing these complicated processes. It has been a busy couple of weeks for him, and the work isn’t over yet.

“When one member of the body resigns and is replaced, it does have a sort of domino effect,” Benson says.

Sunday the District 23 Democratic Party’s Executive Committee announced that Foushee would be the new Senator to represent Orange and Chatham Counties.

Benson says he mailed an official letter to N.C. Governor Pat McCrory the morning after Foushee was nominated. McCrory has seven days to accept the nomination, after which time it will go into effect immediately by law.

As Foushee steps into her new role as Senator, her House seat becomes vacant, and another nomination process begins with a different Executive Committee. The group is made up of officials from District 50, which encompasses parts of rural Orange and DurhamCounties.

The four-member committee will vote and make the nomination for Foushee’s replacement. Graig Meyer and Phyllis Mack-Horton will be representing Orange County, and Will Wilson and Ann Hedgspeth will represent Durham County. Benson will oversee the process but will not vote.

“We would move with reasonable speed, but also taking time to make sure that we get the candidates who want to get in and that the public gets to know who they are and gets to know who the committee members are, and most importantly that the committee members get to know the candidates.”

Benson says he expects to hold a public information session within the next two weeks to discuss the vacant House seat and to appoint a new Representative within the next 30 days.

“While this [the special appointing process] doesn’t happen normally within any given district, but if you look across North Carolina, this kind of thing happens every year somewhere.”

Benson, who has a professional background in science as a field biologist and biochemist, has been a volunteer with the Democratic Party for years and worked on several campaigns in the state. He credits Don Davis, a state Senator and Chairman of First Congressional District, for being a resource in navigating through complicated procedures.

“It has actually been a really good experience. The state senate piece was a lot of work. It was unexpected and it was a logistical challenge,” Benson says.

Registered Democrats living in the district who are over the age of 21 are eligible for the House District 50 Seat.

If you’re interested in putting your name forward for Orange County or would like to know more about the process, contact Chair Matt Hughes at matt.hughes@orangedems.com, or 919-537-9568.

For Durham County, contact Chair Tracey Burns-Vann at durhamcountychair@gmail.com, or 919-627-1621.

To reach Benson and the four members of the District 50 Executive Committee, email: NCHousevacancy@gmail.com.



Replacing Valerie Foushee’s State House Seat

ORANGE COUNTY – It’s a case of musical chairs for our local state leaders. Now that Valerie Foushee has been appointed to fill Ellie Kinnaird’s vacant Senate seat, the process to find a new representative for N.C. House District 50 has begun.

Matt Hughes, Chair of the Orange County Democratic Party, explains that “three or four people” have contacted him, expressing interest in the House seat, which covers parts of rural Orange and Durham Counties.

Registered Democrats living in the district who are over the age of 21 are eligible.

“The folks who have approached me are still in their private deliberations. They are talking with friends, families, and supporters,” Hughes says. “They are determining if going to the Legislature is something they’d like to do, and if so, if this is the seat that will allow them to go to Raleigh.”

North Carolina Democratic Chair Randy Voller told WCHL’s Elizabeth Friend Sunday that the process to fill the House District 50 seat will kick off as soon as Governor Pat McCrory officially names Foushee to the Senate.

Hughes says Chair of the 4th Congressional District, Ted Benson, will preside over a House of Representatives District Executive Committee to appoint someone to serve the remainder of Foushee’s term. Graig Meyer and Phyllis Mack-Horton will be representing Orange County.

“The Sixth Congressional District is undergoing a leadership change at the moment, so it will fall into the lap of Fourth District Chair Ted Benson again to oversee this process,” Hughes says.

Benson will moderate the meeting, as he did Sunday night when Foushee was appointed to the Senate seat, but he will not vote.

“I’m going to have a better sense of what all the moving parts are earlier on and a better sense of how to set it all up,” Benson says.

Hughes says that the committee members’ votes are based on population and that the numbers mirror the split that was used in the Senate District 23 appointment process: one vote for every 300 people residing in the county, which gave Orange County about two-thirds of the vote.

“Orange has a similar proportion of the votes in this House District Committee and actually the district is slightly more favorable [in number of votes] to Orange and the Senate district,” Hughes says.

If you’re interested in putting your name forward for Orange County or would like to know more about the process, contact Chair Matt Hughes at matt.hughes@orangedems.com, or 919-537-9568.

For Durham County, contact Chair Tracey Burns-Vann at durhamcountychair@gmail.com, or 919-627-1621.

To email the House District directly, email house NCHousevacancy@gmail.com.