Kinnaird's would-be successors meet public
The public got a chance on Wednesday to meet the seven applicants seeking to fill the state Senate District 23 vacancy created by the resignation of Ellie Kinnaird.
Party officials held an information session at the old courthouse/post office on East Franklin Street to explain the nomination process and to give candidates an opportunity to give brief statements about why they are seeking the senate seat.
Officials have called a Sept. 8 meeting to name Kinnaird’s successor.
As she already had done in published reports, Kinnaird gave her support to Alice Bordsen, a former state representative who spent 10 years representing Alamance County in House District 63.
“Alice [Bordsen] has served for five terms in the House and knows the system,” Kinnaird said. “She and I, most importantly, worked on several issues that are crucial to the children of North Carolina.”
One issue included raising the age for children to be charged as adults for criminal misconduct.
Bordsen noted during her presentation that she has also worked on legislation important to senior citizens.
Bordsen said she has a longtime relationship with Orange County and Chapel Hill, but acknowledged that she would have to work to establish contacts in Chatham County.
Heidi Chapman, a Chapel Hill attorney who represents people who have been injured on the job, said the current legislature doesn’t know the negative impact their policies are having on working people in the state.
“The folks in that legislature don’t know about working class people,” Chapman said. “They don’t know how much they’re putting people in jeopardy, or don’t care.”
Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton said he would focus on changing the composition of the senate if he is appointed to the seat.
He said Democrats need someone who can help identify winnable Senate races and recruit outstanding candidates to help win nine senate seats and retake control of the Senate.
“The current majority is not open to our input or collaboration, so our mission is clear – to rid ourselves of the current majority,” said Chilton, who is not seeking reelection to the mayor’s seat he currently holds.
State Rep. Valerie Foushee touted her experience as a school board member, county commissioner and state legislator as justification for making her Kinnaird’s replacement.
“I believe that my service to my community, my tenure as a local elected official and my experience in Raleigh uniquely qualify me to serve as your state senator,” Foushee said.
Lynette Hartsell, a Cedar Grove attorney, said the state Senate needs someone who is not afraid to speak strongly in favor of lesbian and gay rights.
“We in the LGBT community have seen what happens when people in positions of power do not act with the full force of their office and the full force of the position they have to protect the rights of those who are at the mercy of those who hate,” Hartsell said.
James Porto, a former mayor of Carrboro, said he is mad at the state GOP and its policies that are eroding 50 years of progress.
“What we have in Raleigh is an alien force taking over our state,” Porto said.
Amy Tiemann, a Chapel Hill educator and author, said she has close ties to Chatham and Orange counties – she lives in Orange and owns a business in Chatham.
Tiemann also said she is an accomplished fundraiser whose skills would be valuable in the fight to regain control over the state legislature.
“We need funding to defeat the Republicans,” Tiemann said.
Kinnaird’s replacement will be appointment by the four member N.C. Senatorial District 23 Democratic Party Executive Committee.
The committee is comprised of two members from Chatham County and two from Orange County.
The two Orange County members will control 446 votes and the two members from Chatham County 212 votes.
Each county is allotted one vote for every 300 citizens counted in the most recent census.
To be eligible for appointment, a candidate must be a resident of Senate District 23 and a registered Democrat.
Kinnaird, who was in her ninth term as a state senator, cited her frustration with the Republican-controlled General Assembly as the reason for her resignation on Aug. 19.
She believes she can be more effective working outside of the legislature, and intends to focus on ensuring citizens have the proper identification to vote in the wake of the state’s new voter ID law backed by the state’s Republican majority.