CHAPEL HILL — Chapel Hill-Carrboro school administrator Graig Meyer and Chapel Hill Town Council member Laurin Easthom and have become the latest candidates to seek state Rep. Valerie Foushees N.C. House District 50 seat.
I have spent my entire career in public service, Meyer said in a statement Tuesday. I have always seen my personal mission as connecting people to the power and opportunities they need to reach their fullest potential.
I just care, Easthom said in an interview Friday. I really want to do what Ive been doing (on the council). I really like helping people out.
The pair join Durham businessman Tommy McNeil, who ran in 2008 for the Orange County Board of Commissioners and in 2012 for the Orange County Board of Education. McNeill, the owner of Mid-South Medical LLC, announced his bid shortly after Foushee was chosen Aug. 8 to fill former state Sen. Ellie Kinnairds District 23 seat.
Kinnaird resigned from the Senate Aug. 19 after 17 years, criticizing the Republican legislative agenda. She plans to spend the next year supporting other candidates and helping voters meet the states strict new voter ID law.
Foushee is expected to formally resign her House seat after receiving word that her nomination for Kinnairds seat has been accepted. At that point, the campaign to replace Foushee will begin in earnest and an N.C. House District 50 Democratic Party Executive Committee will be seated to name her replacement. The committee will include Orange and Durham county representatives.
Orange County Democratic Party Chairman Matt Hughes said last week he has spoken with several people interested in Foushees seat. He declined to offer any names.
Meyer is the director of Student Equity and Volunteer Services for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools. Since 1998 he has been the coordinator of the districts Blue Ribbon Mentor-Advocate for minority students, which he continues to oversee in addition to the school districts new Parent University program.
I have a very simple view of the role of government, Meyer said in a statement Tuesday. Government should educate our children, care for our elders and provide for a safe, healthy and prosperous community for everyone.
In recent years, North Carolina has not had a government which will fulfill these roles, he continued. Should I be appointed to this seat, I am committed to seeking election in 2014 and embarking on a long-term effort to move North Carolina in a direction that will benefit people across the state.
"If you know me, you wont be surprised to know that my top priority will be investing in and improving our systems of early childhood, K-12, and higher education. Our states prosperity has always rested on the success of our educational system, and I believe that we can continue in that path for ever more.
Meyers oldest child was educated in the Orange County Schools. His wife is a teacher in the Durham Public Schools, where both of their sons have spent their elementary school years.
Easthom, a Baltimore native who grew up in North Carolina, is a dentist and has a masters degree in education. She was first elected to the council in 2005 and previously worked as a vocational rehabilitation counselor, helping people with disabilities return to work. She also has served on Chapel Hills Transportation Advisory Board, the Horace Williams Citizens Committee and the Orange-Chatham Sierra Club.
She lives in northern Chapel Hill with her husband and two daughters. Earlier this year, Easthom cited family and career responsibilities for her decision not to seek re-election to the Town Council. On Friday, Easthom said she doesnt plan to work full time after leaving the council, so there should be room in her schedule for family, too.
I just need to do something different, and Ive always wanted to pursue something on a more regional level, she said. The opportunity presented itself.
The changes in state government also inspired her to run, Easthom said. She is concerned about decisions made this year that will harm the right to vote, childrens education and the states Medicaid and medical care systems, she said.
As a mother and a medical professional, she said she has seen firsthand how people are being hurt. As an elected official, she also understands how important it is that people can freely exercise their right to vote.
She said the states legislative war on womens reproductive rights was the last straw.
If appointed to finish Foushees House term, Easthom said she will campaign for re-election next year.
I want to be part of the wave of changes reversing that and, hopefully, gaining back ground in 2014, she said.