Orange-Durham committee to fill House District 50 seat Thursday

tgrubb@newsobserver.comOctober 22, 2013 

  • What’s next?

    The N.C. House District 50 Democratic Party Executive Committee will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Orange County Library, 137 W. Margaret Lane, Hillsborough.

— A Democratic committee will meet Thursday to fill state Sen. Valerie Foushee’s recently vacated N.C. House District 50 seat.

Two additional Durham County candidates have joined the slate – Danielle Adams and Travis A. Phelps – bringing the number to seven.

Chapel Hill Town Council member Laurin Easthom, businessman Tommy McNeill, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools administrator Graig Meyer, lawyer Drew Nelson and Orange County Commissioner Bernadette Pelissier previously announced their interest in the seat.

Foushee, a first-term representative, was sworn into the Senate District 23 seat Sept. 25, replacing former state Sen. Ellie Kinnaird. Kinnaird resigned in August to devote her time to helping voters prepare for the state’s new strict voter ID rules.

The House and Senate terms both expire in December, 2014.

Phelps, 23, ran unsuccessfully against Foushee in the 2012 District 50 primary election. He is an employee of Reckless Paints & Accessories in Durham.

The Durham County native is a Liberty Christian School graduate who studied political science and U.S. government at Durham Technical Community College.

He plans to enroll at N.C. Central University in the spring. He’s also studying for his real estate license. Phelps said he has the time to do that and represent the district.

“I felt the district needed to be represented by someone who is energetic, who is outgoing and who has the goals to achieve economic growth, education and stability,” Phelps said.

The state needs forward-thinking leaders who value equality, openness and respect. Job growth and security are important to many of the state’s residents, he said. His youth is an asset, because it gives him drive, initiative and an understanding of how to get more young people involved, Phelps said.

“We need to get the politicians out and say we want jobs here and growth here,” he said.

Adams, a 30-year-old Durham resident, is the office coordinator for the Institute for Southern Studies in Durham and is serving her second four-year term as a Durham County Soil & Water District supervisor. She also is the local Soil & Water District secretary and treasurer, secretary of the N.C. Association of Soil & Water Conservation Districts and represents her 12-county district on the association’s legislative committee.

In July, she signaled her intent to run next year for Congressman Howard Coble’s Sixth District seat in the U.S. House.

Adams also has worked as an ambassador to Oxfam America’s Sisters on the Planet Advocacy Program and a board member with the Upper Neuse River Basin Association.

She has a degree in political science, with a music minor, from N.C. Central University. Last year, she earned Spectacular Magazine’s Emerging Leader Woman of the Year award and the N.C. Association of Soil & Water Conservation Districts’ Outstanding Supervisor of the Year award.

She did not return calls seeking comment.

Each candidate will have three minutes to speak at Thursday’s meeting. A four-member N.C. House District 50 Democratic Party Executive Committee will vote to appoint one nominee to the office.

The committee has four members – two from Orange County, Dave Gephart and Phyllis Mack-Horton, and two from Durham County, Will Wilson and Ann Hedgspeth. It has a total of 269 votes – 97 for Durham’s members and 172 for Orange’s members.

The number of votes is based on census population data, with one vote for every 300 residents.

The committee’s nominee will be forwarded to Gov. Pat McCrory for official appointment.

Grubb: 919-932-8746

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