Names surface to fill Kinnaird seat
State Rep. Valerie Foushee, the Democrat elected to represent House District 50 in 2012, is looking to move to the state Senate.
On Wednesday, Foushee became one of the first to publicly express interest in being appointed to the state Senate District 23 seat vacated by Ellie Kinnaird on Monday.
Other names emerged as the day went on, including that of Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton who tweeted that he is tossing his name into the ring.
In an interview, Chilton said he made his decision after consulting with other possible candidates for the post and learning that they did not intend to vie for the appointment.
“There were a few people I felt like I wanted to find out if they were going to go forward, and if so, I would have supported them,” Chilton said.
He said the appointment would be a great opportunity to begin the hard work of recapturing the Senate, which is now dominated by a Republican majority.
Mayor of Carrboro since 2005, Chilton did not seek re-election.
Alice Bordsen, who served in the state House for a decade representing Alamance County, has also been mentioned as a candidate for the appointment.
Bordsen did not seek re-election in 2012, citing her frustration with Republican-controlled redistricting.
In a news release to area media, Foushee pointed to her experience as an Orange County commissioner and Chapel Hill-Carrboro school board member as qualifications that make her “uniquely qualified” to serve in the state Senate.
“I’m pursuing this seat because Orange County is my home and I want to be able to represent the entire county, as well as Chatham, in the legislature,” Foushee said. “I understand the tensions between the rural and urban areas and as a former representative of both, I am uniquely qualified to represent Senate District 23.”
Kinnaird resigned Monday amid her ninth term, citing frustration with the Republican majority in the General Assembly that she contends is rolling back many hard-won progressive measures.
She said she plans to advocate for citizens from outside her former perch in the state Senate and work to ensure everyone has proper identifications so they will not be denied the right to vote as a result of the state’s newly adopted VoterID laws.
Kinnaird has said that she wants to see a woman replace her in the Senate.
Matt Hughes, chairman of the Orange County Democratic Party, said Kinnaird’s replacement would likely be named no more than 30 days after her resignation.
A four member district committee of the Democratic Party made up of two members each from Chatham and Orange counties will appoint a replacement to complete the remainder of Kinnaird’s term, which expires next year.
Committee members will have one vote for every 300 residents, giving Orange County about two-thirds of the votes in the selection process.
If Foushee is appointed to fill the vacant Senate seat, the process would be repeated to fill her House seat, which represents segments of both Orange and Durham counties.
In 2004, Foushee became the first African-American woman elected to the Orange County Board of Commissioners. She was re-elected in 2008, and served as the board’s chairwoman from 2008-10.
Foushee was elected to the school board in 1997 and re-elected in 2001.