6 days left to lobby the 4 Dems who will pick our next state senator. They want to hear from you at ncsenate23vacancy@gmail.com.


(If you've written to the commitee, I'd love to see your letters here as well regardless of what they say.)Dear executive selection committee,I am writing to express my strong endorsement of Mark Chilton for the N.C. Senate seat recently vacated by Ellie Kinnaird. Thank you so much for making this process public and taking the time to hear from the people of Orange and Chatham Counties about our concerns.I have lived here (in both southern Orange and northern Chatham) since 1973, and have been involved in local politics for more than two decades. In fact, I worked on both Mark and Ellie's campaigns in the past. I think Mayor Chilton is our best choice to fill this seat because he would bring a wealth of practical political skills, energy for civic engagement, and the same idealism and passion that made Senator Kinnaird the Conscience of the Senate.As a woman, I know that that Mayor Chilton will go to bat for my reproductive rights, as he has done for decades including working for NARAL-NC in their early days. As an environmentalist I know he will work to stop fracking and the many other assaults on NC's precious ecosystems. As a person concerned with human rights, I know he will work hard for better treatment of immigrants just as he has done for many Carrboro residents that are day laborers and residents of substandard housing. As a person against racism, I know he will continue to address persistent institutional racism as well as the GOP's unconscionable attacks on voting rights. As the father of two school-aged boys, I know he will take attacks on education personally. And I also know he will work hard for student enfranchisement as he is one of only a handful of people who has been both a student and an elected official in North Carolina at the same time.But I don't just support Mayor Chilton's appointment because of his strong support of the issues that I care about, I also think he will be an asset to our region and the entire state by being an energizing force that will help target vulnerable Republican districts, raise money for Democratic campaigns, and engage activists and potential candidates from across the state.I truly think that Mark Chilton is the very best person for this job, especially at this time. He is our best hope to take back seats in the General Assembly in 2014 and 2016. If you appoint him, it will send a powerful message that Democrats do not intend to take the past year of attacks on our state lying down. He will start the first wave of what will be a growing movement to reverse the retrograde agenda of Art Pope and the Tea Party Republicans currently in control of the General Assembly.Thank you for your time and consideration.Sincerely,Ruby Sinreich  

(My old colleague Adam Searing sent me a copy of his letter as he knows I have been following this. He gave me permission to post it here.)Dear Executive Committee:I appreciate your willingness to balance the competing interests in a district full of good candidates to fill our vacant Senate seat for the short session next year.  I don't envy your task!  Having both grown up in Chapel Hill and spending the last 16 years working in the public sphere for progressive change in Raleigh with a large nonprofit progressive issue advocacy organization, I hope you will consider a few thoughts I have on the vacancy.  These are simply from my personal viewpoint as a district resident (and for you Chatham folks, forgive my CH viewpoint although I've spent my share of time in the county) and don't reflect any special insights into any individual candidates. They also do not represent in any way the views of my employer and are mine alone.First, I have seen too many legislators come to Raleigh and do very little to make change happen.  These are often people who are very popular back home and keep returning year after year, but who either do not spend the time to be effective in Raleigh or don't have the skill to be effective as much as they enjoy being in the Capitol.  It would seem to go without saying that none of us would want someone like that as a representative, but I am amazed over the years as to how many legislators fall into this category.  As my reporter friend Jena Heath said many years ago [she had some male legislators in mind at the time], "Why would some of these guys ever want to go back home?  Here they have someone hanging on their every word and saying how smart they are.  Back in their hometown, their wives are telling them to take out the trash and mow the lawn.  Of course they'd rather be here!" Our new Senator should know important issues very well and be willing to put the time into learning those they don't.Second, I think that messaging about the actions of the Republican majority and Governor is an absolutely key part of the post in a way that it never was when the state was under Democratic control.  This includes a commitment to the time it takes to use social media, but also the ability to relate effectively and build relationships with reporters and editors, the ability to deliver timely and informative sound bites, the willingness to master policy areas enough to be seen by the press as a reliable source for an opposing viewpoint, and the ability to think fast when responding to an emerging story. Last session, almost every day, the majority in Raleigh provided an opportunity for an opposing viewpoint to be aired simply because of the radical nature of many of their actions.  While there are very effective public policy news and opinion operations in North Carolina,  these simply cannot replace the need for respected, smart and articulate Democratic leaders who know how to get their message out in all the various forms of media available.  This is one of the most pressing needs I believe at the moment and our new senator could lead the way in this along with leaders like Josh Stein and Rick Glazier.  While we may not retake the House or Senate for a while, showing the shallowness and hypocrisy of the majority's actions day after day will play a key role in winning back the Governorship, keeping our US Senate seat, and, eventually, more seats in the General Assembly.Third, a willingness to spend the time it takes to raise money for other good candidates around the state is another key attribute.  Again, this is an obvious one, but I think there is a special skill here as well needed for our new Senator.  The unique characteristics of our district, where many people live who are progressive and have plenty of ability to contribute to candidates, but who pay (or maybe at this point at least used to pay!) little attention to state politics presents a unique challenge and opportunity.  We all know people who spend much more time reading the NY Times than the N+O while they assume that state politics will "take care of itself." They also may have little faith in the state party and are much more focused on national races.  Being able to communicate to these district residents the importance and effectiveness of participation in the state political process and why they should care enough to write a big check involves being able to make an effective argument to people who are more politically active in a different area.  This requires an understanding of both national and state politics, the intersection between the two, and the ability to make a compelling argument for participation.Fourth and finally, I know that you will consider strong community connections as a important piece of the job. From my viewpoint this means someone who truly loves our communities, both rural and urban, here in the district.  I know that finding someone with deep connections to both Chapel Hill and Chatham is a big task.  To me though, this would be someone who cares about our land, our cities and our people enough to not only provide great constituent service, but also brings a passion to represent the interests of everyone in our district.Thanks for considering my input and again, I appreciate your hard work and commitment to our community. Sincerely,Adam 

Ruby, yours is much more eloquent than mine.  This was mine:Dear Selection Committee,I urge you to select Mayor Mark Chilton as the replacement for Senator Kinnard.  Mayor Chilton has a long history of public service and is a strong advocate for the progressive causes supported by local Democrats.  Furthermore, I find Mayor Chilton to be a compelling an persuasive communicator which would allow him to be an influential member of the senate during these difficult times. If appointed Mark will be well positioned for re-election for many terms in the future, an outcome which will serve the interests of local constituents.Best regards,Jeff DannerChapel Hill, NC

Dear Selection Committee,I am writing, once more, to express my strong endorsement of one of the women candidates to replace Ellie Kinnaird in the NC Senate. Women constitute roughly 52% of the North Carolina population. And yet, there are only seven (7) women in the North Carolina Senate (14% of the total Senate). Young girls need to see strong women serving in public office, if we are ever going to reverse the trend of low representation. Your appointment is more than likely not going to be a 1-year appointment. Incumbency brings benefits that last for decades.I would not be making this argument if the candidates for Ellie's seat weren't all strong, competent leaders. Competence is my top priority. But given multiple, equally competent candidates, I can think of no feasible reason for not selecting a woman. The role-model effect alone has ripple effects from now through the next many years. And then there's the assault launched against women's health in this recent session. For centuries, men have been making policies impacting reproductive rights and other women's health issues. We need women to take charge!I encourage you to vote for equal representation, for women's health, for our future daughters and granddaughters. Please, appoint a woman.Sincerely,Terri Buckner

Nice letter, Terri - glad to see there are other progressives in Orange County who are concerned about the lack of diverse representation in our state government! I'll be writing something in the next couple days as well.

Dear Selection Committee:

I write today to strongly urge you to select Valerie Foushee to be our next state senator.

We are fortunate to live in a community with an abundance of qualified, progressive individuals capable of representing us in the NC Senate, but I firmly believe that Rep. Foushee is the best candidate for the job.

Rep. Foushee is a lifelong resident of Chapel Hill with an impressive record of public service in our community. Throughout her 16 years of service, she has represented both the urban and rural areas of Orange County on the Chapel Hill-Carrboro School Board, the County Commission, and now in the NC House.

In each of these roles, she has worked hard to make our community a better place. Most recently, as a state representative, she put the interests of her district first by working with members on both sides of the aisle to help House District 50. This allowed Rep. Foushee to play an integral role in keeping the Orange County Prison open, saving not only jobs, but a volunteer center that has seen hundreds work with inmates and help them assimilate into the world. She also skillfully guided an economic development bill for Chapel Hill through both the House and Senate.

And Rep. Foushee possesses another skill our next senator must have: Demonstrated fundraising experience. If Democrats are ever to retake the majority in either house, we must have folks in office already who can raise the money needed to help other candidates successfully compete. As a candidate in 2012, Rep. Foushee raised nearly $100,000 -- just imagine the potential success Rep. Foushee can achieve for Democrats with a larger district, more constituents, and a bigger platform.

Rep. Foushee's track record in the NC House demonstrates the kind of pragmatic, effective leadership that District 23 needs and deserves in a state senator. I sincerely hope you will select Valerie Foushee to fill this vacancy.

Thank you for your service throughout this process, and for your time and consideration.


Travis Crayton

I strongly support Mark Chilton. He is an authentic progressive leader
who also has the ability to communicate with those of various other
perspectives. He has the creativity and energy of a successful activist
blended with the pragmatic instincts necessary to be effective as an
elected official.

The most impressive quality that I've observed over his many years of
public service is that he does not waiver from a principled commitment
to fairness and justice. To cite a few examples, he worked thoughtfully
and creatively with police and demonstrators at the occupied CVS
Pharmacy site to resolve that potentially incendiary situation. He stood
up for justice by committing civil disobedience as part of the Moral
Monday movement. He has maintained a strong and successful advocacy of a
walkable, bike-able Carrboro. He was instrumental in leading Carrboro to
become the first local government to put its money where its mouth is by
committing town funds to pay for water & sewer connections for the
beleaguered Rogers Road community.

Valerie Foushee has a troubling history of supporting economic interests
over the interests of communities and citizens who need help in the face
of more powerful forces. This past February, she was one of just a few
Democrats that joined with the overwhelming Republican majority in the
House to vote in favor of a Hwy. 540 bypass route that ignored the
issues raised by the affected community in Garner (HB10). Insko,
Michaux, and Harrison voted for a fair process and against over-riding
the desires of the community.

Last year as a County Commissioner, she voted over the protestations of
the community in the Eno Economic Development District to fast-track
rezoning before their issues were fully addressed. As Barry Jacobs said
during the proceedings (I’m paraphrasing here), we in Orange County have
never run roughshod over the interests of a community.

A few months ago, the State House had the opportunity to vote yea or nay
for Gov. McCrory’s choice to head the Public Staff, a unique agency of
state government that is charged with representing consumers and
rate-payers in matters before the Utility Commission. McCrory’s choice
was Chris Ayers, a guy who spent his entire career as a lawyer
representing utilities. The vote was 112-4. Only Representatives Michaux
and Luebke from Durham, Rep. Pricey Harrison from Greensboro, and our
own Verla Insko voted against this appointment. Thirty nine Democrats,
including Valerie Foushee, voted for McCrory’s guy. This is particularly
disturbing since it is so clearly a case of voting for the fox to guard
the hen house.

These troubling times require someone who understands the need to
advocate for ordinary citizens, to empower local communities, to take
principled stands to preserve and enhance environmental protection
against the rapacious business interests that installed their puppets in
Raleigh, to fight for women's rights, and above all to focus on taking
back our government from the radical Republicans that are damaging our

Mark Chilton is far and above the other candidates in terms of his track
record on the right side of the issues and his recognition that there is
no higher priority than changing the make-up of the legislature.

Dear Committee,

I have known Mark Chilton since he was 21 years of age. Mark is always concerned, as was Ellie, about people with developmental disabilities (DD). I happen to know that Mark is the only candidate for State Senate for people with DD. He is the only candidate who will stand up for people with DD. He knows me personally. I have a Cerebral Palsy and have lived in the Carrboro/Chapel Hill area for thirty years. He listens, he cares, and he has a big heart. I helped former Senator Ellie Kinnaird with her first two campaigns and will be happy to help Mark with his first two!

Sincerely yours,

Ellen Perry

Dear members of the State Senatorial District Executive Committee,

I am writing in support of Mark Chilton to be nominated to fulfill the remainder of Sen Ellie Kinnaird's term.  This letter is an unsolicited endorsement.

By way of introduction, I was active in the Chatham County Democratic Party from 2004 through 2009, when I started my family. I held several positions in Hickory Mountain Precinct, served on the county Executive Committee, and served as county chair for the 2008 campaign to elect Kay Hagan to US Senate. Additionally, in 2005-06 I was an active member of the Chatham County ad hoc committee on election integrity in our fight for open BOE meetings and opposing electronic voting machines. (We prevailed against a rogue Board of Elections by winning a summary judgement in District Court.) My professional credentials and experience can be seen in my LinkedIn profile.

Since the birth of my son in 2010, I have been mostly inactive in the Party, but have continued to support strong Democratic candidates, including Kay Hagan, Joe Hackney, Bob Atwater, Ellie Kinnaird, Deb McManus, and Randy Voller.

I will be supporting Mark Chilton because of his proven track record as a progressive elected official. He knows politics. He knows campaigning. But more importantly, he knows governing. And his progressive values are known.

I think an excellent example of Mark's beliefs and strengths can be seen in his role negotiating a peaceful resolution to the anarchists' occupation of the CVS building in Carrboro in February 2012.

Of the seven people who have stepped forward for this position, none is better qualified than Mark Chilton.  He will serve us truly and effectively. And he will win when he stands for election.

Thank you for your service in this assignment, and for your attention to this letter. I hope you will consider my input in making your decision.


John Bonitz 

Pittsboro, NC 

According to an email from Matt Hughes, Valerie Foushee was selected for the open NC 23rd Senate seat.  Congratulations to Valerie and thanks to all who were willing to serve.  

From that same e-mail:

"Senator-designate Foushee's name will be submitted to Governor McCrory for appointment. If he fails to swiftly appoint our new senator, then she will be automatically appointed to the vacanct Senate seat after a period of seven days."

Though she hasn't represented my district for a full term, here near the Orange/Durham County border, I did find her to be an accessible Representative, and look forward to seeing her as a Senator. Mark would have been an amazing choice to have representing me too, I look forward to seeing what he does next as well. 

As I said over on Facebook: I support Valerie Foushee. I always have and I always will. She's been a great School Board member, a great County Commissioner and a great NC Representative. There may well be a state senate primary here in 2014, but it won't be because of me. Go, Senator Val, go! -MarkP.S.I'd be surprised if Matt's statement about a 7 day time limit is correct. I think there have been some significant disputes about that issue in the past (i.e. the Governor having a lethargic response to an legislative appointment). But it hardly matters because the legislature will not reconvene for months and months. And Valerie will be available for her constituents regardless of when she gets sworn in.

Here's the statute detailing the timeline if the Governor doesn't act sooner rather than later. Added it because I'm sure folks would have the question of "what if McCrory doesn't appoint Valerie"? § 163-11.  Filling
vacancies in the General Assembly.

If a vacancy shall occur in the General Assembly by death, resignation, or
otherwise than by expiration of term, the Governor shall immediately appoint
for the unexpired part of the term the person recommended by the political
party executive committee provided by this section. The Governor shall make the
appointment within seven days of receiving the recommendation of the
appropriate committee. If the Governor fails to make the appointment within the
required period, he shall be presumed to have made the appointment
and the
legislative body to which the appointee was recommended is directed to seat the
appointee as a member in good standing for the duration of the unexpired term.

Congratulations to our newest senator and thanks to all the great candidates who put their names forward. Now we need to start working to elect great Democrats across the state in 2014!! Maria T. Palmer


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