Graig Meyer was a longtime follower of politics but only seriously considered holding public office when Valerie Foushee moved to the N.C. Senate in September, leaving a vacant seat in the N.C. House of Representatives.
Today — a little more than one month later — Meyer will be sworn in to fill that seat as the new representative of District 50.
“It was a pretty quick decision,” Meyer said. “I started to think about what kind of leadership I wanted for my own district, and I came to the realization that I thought I could do it.”
Meyer will represent Durham and Orange counties in his new role. Last week, the Democratic parties from both counties nominated Meyer from seven candidates to fill the seat left vacant by Foushee.
Four representatives, two from each district, split their votes among five candidates in the first round, and unanimously chose Meyer in the second round of voting. Gov. Pat McCrory then officially appointed Meyer.
With a Republican majority in both the House and Senate, Meyer said he recognizes challenges Democrats face, and he can help be part of new Democratic leadership for the state.
One of Meyer’s main goals will be improving the quality of education across North Carolina.
“I really want to make sure North Carolina values its teachers and its students to get the state to a place where education is really driving economic prosperity,” he said.
For the past 15 years, Meyer has worked to close the achievement gap and currently serves as director of student equity and volunteer services at Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools. Meyer said the role helped him better understand the needs of students and the importance of teachers.
“Every teacher wants their students to be successful, and to get to that place, we need to support our teachers. We need to see them as the most important part of improving our education system,” he said. “We really have to start listening to teachers about what the state does to improve education, and we need to build positive, collaborative working environments.”
Meyer said he is focused on the upcoming session, but already plans to run for re-election when his term expires December 2014.
Matt Hughes, chairman of the Orange County Democratic Party, said he expects Meyer to provide steady leadership and a progressive voice for the district.
Meyer will benefit from serving beside veteran Democratic leaders in the area and will have time before the session begins in May to learn the General Assembly rules, Hughes said.
“I think Graig’s transition will be a really smooth one,” he said.
Foushee, who is in the middle of a town hall series to meet with and speak to her new constituents, will swear Meyer in today, upon his request.
“I’m excited for him and the people of District 50. Graig is very thoughtful, caring, intelligent and engaged,” Foushee said. “I think he’s ready, and I look forward to big things from him.”
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