The Daily Tar Heel

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Sunday December 5th

Kinnaird, Lee Face Off Again on UNC Campus

Kinnaird and Lee are running against each other in the Sept. 10 Democratic primary for the 23rd District N.C. Senate seat, which encompasses Orange County. Wednesday's debate came a day after the candidates faced off at a Young Democrats forum.

The candidates focused much of the debate in a congenial discussion on how the state budget crisis will affect the University and specifically non-faculty staff at UNC-CH.

Though the two highlighted some differences in their beliefs and legislative styles, both stressed their friendship and partnership in the N.C. Senate and said it is difficult to run against each other.

Kinnaird made note of her career as a state employee in North Carolina, saying she worked at Wilson Library, where Wednesday's debate took place.

She said her colleagues in the N.C. General Assembly too often neglect the interests of state employees while giving tax breaks to large businesses.

"We have a tax structure every year that gives loopholes and tax incentives for big corporations," Kinnaird said. "We have a tax structure that is not fair to the average citizen."

Kinnaird said this imbalance is especially clear in the budget proposal under debate. She said the legislature should have included pay raises for state employees. Kinnaird was the only Democrat to vote against the Senate's budget proposal.

While Lee also said the budget is not perfect, he said he voted for it because it does provide funding for key programs even in the economic crisis. "This state is in tough condition," he said.

When asked by UNC-CH office assistant Katherine Graves about state employees' status, Lee contested Kinnaird's assertion, saying their interests are weighed the same as other state programs. "I want to refute that (state employees) aren't considered until the last," he said.

He said he would be the better senator because he has more experience as a leader and more clout in Raleigh.

Both candidates said they support non-faculty employees of UNC-system universities forming a statewide group similar to students' UNC-system Association of Student Governments.

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