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, or 919-537-9568.

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

To reach Benson and the four members of the District 50 Executive Committee, email: