On Sunday, March 12, the League of Women Voters of Orange, Durham and Chatham Counties hosted a “changing of the guard” event between retired U.S. Rep. David Price and newly-elected U.S. Rep. Valerie Foushee (D-NC 4th) at the Chapel Hill Public Library.
The event included speeches from both Price and Foushee, as well as well-wishes from community members and an acknowledgment of the district's changing landscape.
Price, who served the district for 34 years, said he was glad to be at the event. He said the League of Women Voters — a nonpartisan organization that works to protect and expand voting rights — has had thoughtful positions on issues such as democracy and voting rights.
During his speech, Price spoke about his time in Congress and the changes he's seen in the district during his tenure. He said the most notable change has been the geographic shift in the district's boundaries, with Wake County no longer being a part of the district. Instead, it is now centered on Durham and Orange counties.
Price said there are many challenges that Foushee and future representatives will face, including reaching out to the entire district and overcoming political differences. However, he said Congress can still be a productive environment.
“The House of Representatives, though, is, compared to most parliamentary bodies worldwide, still a place where there's a good deal of leeway for an entrepreneurial member to find a road,” Price said.
After Price finished his speech, Foushee spoke about her career leading up to serving in the House of Representatives and some of her accomplishments since being sworn in.
“It has indeed been my honor to serve in this community every step,” Foushee said.
Foushee said the first days of her term did not go the way she envisioned due to the U.S. House's inability to select a speaker. However, she said she has already been able to make an impact by serving on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.
“Both of these committee assignments, as I said, were at the top of my list because of their importance to the Fourth District, and I'm excited about this opportunity to bring back resources to the folks at home because that's what's important to you all,” Foushee said.
The event was also attended by local officials, community leaders and constituents who came out to show their support for both Price and Foushee.
“I wanted not to miss an opportunity to honor David and thank him for all he's done for our community and for our country, and to listen to Valerie and wish her well,” Chapel Hill Town Council member Michael Parker said.
He said he hopes Foushee will continue to address issues important to Chapel Hill residents, such as affordable housing and transit availability. He said Price has previously supported these projects by obtaining federal funds for electric buses, for example.
Orange County resident Mary Phillips, who attended the event, said Black Americans were subject to poll taxes and literacy tests when she was young. She said she hopes Foushee will continue making progress on social issues such as voting rights, ensuring high-quality education and women’s rights.
“There's so many issues, and so I hope that she will leave her mark on at least some of those,” Phillips said.
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