The energy from the NAACP-sponsored rally held at Peace & Justice Plaza Wednesday was carried into the Chapel Hill Post Office as the candidates hoping to represent Orange and Chatham counties as a state senator made their case.
Democrat Ellie Kinnaird resigned from her seat in the N.C. Senate Aug. 19 during her ninth term, and her replacement will be picked by an executive committee comprised of four voting Democratic officials from Orange and Chatham counties.
The meeting was held to explain the selection process, introduce committee members and allow candidates to explain their platforms to the public.
Now, committee members have to decide what characteristics they are looking for in a candidate to serve for the 2014 short session.
Alice Bordsen, a former state representative, was recommended by Kinnaird at the meeting, who pointed to Bordsen’s knowledge of the political system and her focus on serving her constituency.
Rep. Valerie Foushee, D-Orange, was praised by several citizens, including Orange County Commissioner Earl McKee, for her fairness and sensibility.
Bordsen and Foushee both relied on their track records in the N.C. General Assembly during the discussion, pointing to their history of support for Democratic policy.
“If we can reach across the aisle, we must reach across the aisle,” Foushee said.
Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton pointed to his interpersonal skills as asset for working with other members of the legislature.
At the meeting, attorney Lynette Hartsell and former Carborro mayor and UNC faculty member Jim Porto seemed less willing to compromise their positions in the name of diplomacy. Instead, these candidates said they were disappointed with the actions of the Republican-led legislature.
“You can’t deal with the Borg, you have to attack it,” Porto said, comparing the Republican Party to the Star Trek villain. “That’s what I want to do, I want to attack the Republicans for what they have become: an alien force hostile to North Carolinians.”
Author and producer Amy Tiemann and attorney Heidi Chapman explained how they would use their educational and professional backgrounds to vote on policy issues.
The committee will officially nominate a candidate at its meeting on Sept. 8.
Ted Benson, the non-voting committee chairman, said it will be a challenge choosing Kinnaird’s replacement.
“I have felt deeply ashamed by the actions of the General Assembly in Raleigh,” Benson said. “On the contrary, tonight I am feeling incredibly proud to be a Democrat with these very strong, very impressive, very diverse candidates.”
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