As former N.C. Rep. Valerie Foushee prepares to fill Ellie Kinnaird’s vacated seat in the N.C. Senate, Democrats in Orange and Durham counties are starting the process of filling another vacant legislative position.
Foushee was named Kinnaird’s replacement last week by a selection committee, and she will represent District 23 in the Senate through December 2014. Foushee did not respond to multiple requests for comment regarding her new position.
With Foushee’s House of Representatives seat now empty, Democrats from across District 50 are beginning to declare candidacy for the open position.
Matt Hughes, chairman of the Orange County Democratic Party, said a committee has already been formed to choose Foushee’s replacement. The committee is composed of two party officials from Orange County and two from Durham County.
As of Sunday, two candidates have officially declared interest in the position, Tommy McNeill of Durham and Laurin Easthom of Chapel Hill.
McNeill, a U.S. Air Force veteran and owner of Mid-South Medical LLC, said he would primarily focus on advocating for K-12 education, as well as preparing the state Democratic Party for the 2014 election through fundraising and grassroots efforts.
“I think it’s crucial that we ensure our K-12 is fully funded and is competitive in a global manner,” McNeill said. “We also need to assure that all voters have the proper ID and are properly registered to vote in the next election.”
McNeill said his time in the military and on the Orange County Planning Board has given him a wide range of leadership skills that would help him if chosen for the position.
Easthom, currently a Chapel Hill Town Council member, said she would look to foster support for education and health care and help residents adjust to the new voter ID law.