Kinnaird seat draws a crowd

Posted August 21, 2013

— The list of contenders seeking the state Senate seat of resigning Chapel Hill Democrat Ellie Kinnaird is growing by the hour.

Kinnaird's district is one of the few "safe" Democratic districts drawn in the GOP's 2011 redistricting maps, so whoever is tapped to take her seat is considered likely to win election to a full term in 2014. 

The first contender to publicly announce her interest was freshman state Rep. Valerie Foushee, D-Orange. Foushee was the first black woman elected to the Orange County Board of Commissioners. She chaired that board as well as the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Board of Education before she won her first House term in 2012. She's been endorsed by fellow state House freshman Rep. Deb McManus, D-Chatham. 

Early Wednesday afternoon, Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton added his hat to the ring with an announcement on his Facebook page. Chilton, mayor since 2005, became the state's youngest elected public official in 1991 when he won a seat on the Chapel Hill Town Council as a 21-year-old University of North Carolina undergraduate. Chilton's been an outspoken critic of the legislature's Republican leadership and was arrested at a "Moral Monday" protest in June. 

Amy Tiemann is also seeking Kinnaird's seat. Tiemann holds a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Stanford University and is a well-known author and blogger on politics and parenting. She was one of the founders of the progressive advocacy group Moms Rising. She and her husband, Michael Tiemann, a vice president at Red Hat, have been active in Democratic politics and philanthropy for many years. 

Former Democratic state Rep. Alice Bordsen is also seeking Kinnaird's seat. Bordsen represented Alamance County and part of Orange County in the state House for five terms from 2003 to 2012, when she opted not to run for re-election after GOP mapmakers redrew her district to make it more Republican. Bordsen lives in Chapel Hill and is a longtime friend to Kinnaird. 

Kinnaird, 81, announced Monday she had resigned her seat, effective immediately, to work on outreach efforts to ensure people had the required photo identification to vote under a new state law. She was in her ninth term in the state Senate. In an interview with WRAL News, she did not endorse a potential successor. 

A four-member committee of local Democratic party officials will choose Kinnaird's replacement, who will then be appointed by Gov. Pat McCrory to fill out the remainder of Kinnaird's term, expiring December 2014. The panel's decision is expected within the next 30 days.


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