CHAPEL HILL- Newly-appointed State House Representative Graig Meyer will take his oath of office this Thursday, and the person he’s chosen to swear him in is the last to hold the position.
“State Senator Valerie Foushee is going to swear me in. Valerie held the seat before I did,” says Meyer. “But the real reason I asked her is that Valerie has always been a mentor to me, both in terms of the work that I’ve done in education and in my political aspirations. I really hope to follow in her footsteps and live up to the example that she set for me.”
Meyer takes Foushee’s place representing House District 50, which covers most of rural Orange and Northern Durham counties. He was appointed by a committee of Democratic Party officials in October.
Foushee herself went through a similar process when she was appointed in September to fill the N.C Senate District 23 seat left vacant by the resignation of Ellie Kinnaird.
Orange County Democratic Party Chair Matt Hughes says Meyer’s appointment will help bring stability to the local delegation, which has seen the retirement of three long-time leaders in the past year.
“Three of our legislators we had last year are no longer serving in the legislature: Bill Faison, Joe Hackney and Ellie Kinnaird,” says Hughes. “I think that we are at a point where we are settling down with our legislative delegation and it’s starting to solidify. I think Graig and Valerie and Verla [Insko] will all be able to work together really well in the legislature to produce some good work for Orange County.”
Looking ahead, Hughes says Orange County Democrats are in a strong position to help candidates who might face tight races in other parts of the state next year.
“Orange County is one of those places that, once you take care of a little housekeeping, you can go elsewhere and really help other counties and other candidates that are just a few points away from declaring victory in certain key races,” says Hughes.
Meyer says he hopes to help re-energize local progressives during both the May primary and the November election.
“Having a little period of uncertainty in the local area has made loyal democrats feel uneasy in knowing who’s going to fight for us, so I do believe people feel really relieved and excited knowing we have a strong delegation going into 2014,” says Meyer.
Meyer’s swearing-in ceremony will take place Thursday at 6:30 at the historic courthouse in Hillsborough.http://chapelboro.com/news/state-government/new-house-rep-meyer-to-be-sworn-in-on-thursday/
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 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.http://chapelboro.com/news/state-government/graig-meyer-appointed-to-n-c-house-district-50-seat/
CHAPEL HILL- The four-member committee that will pick a replacement for former state senator Ellie Kinniard heard from the seven people who have put their names forward to fill the vacant seat.
Ellie Kinnaird announced her resignation August 19. She was on hand at the forum and spoke briefly, endorsing former Representative Alice Bordsen. Kinnaird said Bordsen, who served five terms in the House and is the current first vice-chair of the Orange County Democrats, has the experience necessary to step into the position right away. Bordsen also touted her experience representing Alamance County, citing her work to help children and senior citizens.
Heidi Chapman, a personal injury attorney in Chapel Hill, said she’s seen the positive impact the community college system can have in the lives of people who are out of work, but she worries the system is being undermined by the current education budget.
Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton argued that the role of the appointee should not just be to lobby for specific issues, but to work to win back the legislature from Republican control. He said his campaign experience in Chapel Hill and Carrboro municipal elections can help get the Democratic Party organized in 2014.
State House Representative Valerie Foushee said since being elected to the General Assembly last year she’s built relationships with Republican members of the House that helped move OrangeCounty’s agenda forward. Nonetheless, she said she’d fight to tip the balance back to Democratic control.
Lynette Hartsell, an attorney from Cedar Grove, said she’d champion equality as an advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens. She called for Democrats to stand up for LGBT civil rights.
Jim Porto, former mayor of Carrboro, said he would not run for re-election if appointed. Instead he would focus on rebranding the Democratic Party to appeal to moderate voters alienated by the GOP’s agenda.
Amy Tiemann spoke of her local business ties to Chatham County and her ability to raise money for Democratic candidates. She said she’ll bring a science background to issues like fracking and climate change.
Committee members also had a chance to ask the candidates specific questions, and while they did touch on policy issues like restoring education funding and protecting women’s reproductive rights, much of the conversation revolved around the need for fundraising and organizing to shore up the Democratic Party ahead of next year’s election.
The courthouse at 179 East Franklin was standing room only for much of the three hour meeting, with many staying until the end to hear public comment. Of the fifteen who addressed the committee, more than half spoke in favor of Valerie Foushee.
The committee will make nominations and vote on September 8 at the Chatham Community Library. The two Orange County representatives control 446 votes between them, while the Chatham representatives control 212. Committee members can split their votes any way they choose. The winning candidate will need 330 votes to secure the appointment.
RALEIGH- Governor Pat McCrory says he will sign into law the controversial abortion bill passed by the House earlier this week. McCrory had previously said he would veto the Senate’s version of the bill, which called for abortion clinics to be regulated as ambulatory surgical centers. It also mandated that a doctor be present for all stages of an abortion procedure.
The House version of the bill is slightly less stringent. It calls for the Department of Health and Human Services to develop new regulations that do not limit access to abortion services. In a statement released on Friday, McCrory called the House version “an improved bill which will better protect women while not further limiting access.”
McCrory has drawn fire in recent weeks as critics say he has abandoned a campaign promise to not support any measure that would restrict abortions.
However, the governor’s approval might not matter much in the long run, as Republicans in the House and Senate have large enough majorities to override any veto.http://chapelboro.com/news/state-government/mccrory-says-hell-sign-new-abortion-bill/