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The Daily Tar Heel
View from the Hill

Ellie Kinnaird urges students to advocate for change

After resigning from the N.C. Senate last month, Ellie Kinnaird continues to have an active voice in local and state politics.

Kinnaird led an informal discussion with students on Monday, instructing them in ways to advocate for change in state policies. The discussion was sponsored by Advocates for Carolina, a group dedicated to advocating for UNC students with disabilities.

“I never intended to run (for office),” Kinnaird said. “I assumed early that civic duty was a part of my life.”

Kinnaird talked about her 26-year political career, which began as mayor of Carrboro before she ran to represent Orange County in the N.C. Senate — a seat she held for 17 years.

Kinnaird encouraged students to engage in their civic duties and join student groups. She also told students to get involved with networking, a vital part of reaching more constituents.

Kinnaird also encouraged her audience to find out who their legislators are and to contact them to be active constituents.

Kinnaird said she supported the Moral Monday demonstrations, which started as a small group of protesters at the N.C. General Assembly in the summer and has now expanded and occurs at different parts of the state each week.

“At first we thought it was a media circus, but as more people gathered, we saw it as being more important,” she said.

Though no longer a senator, Kinnaird said she wants to continue work on voting rights and is starting a voting project and meeting with church and civic groups like the NAACP.

Kinnaird’s voting project aims to encourage people to become informed, not only about the changes to voting laws, but also the names on the ballots. The projects hopes to educate people on how to obtain a now-required state-issued ID and determine constituents’ voting precincts.

Junior Katie Savage, a political science major, reached out to Kinnaird this summer about having this discussion with students after Savage proposed legislation concerning students with disabilities.

Savage, a member of Advocates for Carolina, said she was sad to see Kinnaird resign, but wants to work with her in the future to develop stronger legislation for people with disabilities.

Joey Bozik, a junior psychology major and fellow member of Advocates for Carolina, said he hoped to see more enforcement of previously passed legislation on disability.

Kinnaird said the most important thing students could do is to get involved and be informed because in a changing nation, students will be the ones who are most affected.

“All of these things affect you one way or another — the most important thing you can do is get involved.”

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