Democrats in New Hanover and Brunswick counties have picked a replacement for N.C. Rep. Susi Hamilton, who resigned from the legislature to become Gov. Roy Cooper’s secretary of natural and cultural resources.
Deb Butler, a Wilmington attorney, will serve the remainder of Hamilton’s two-year term. She’ll be formally appointed by Cooper based on the recommendation of the local Democrats, who chose her over nine other contenders for the seat.
Butler, who is gay, will be the second openly LGBT member of this year’s legislature. When the legislature approved House Bill 2 last year, no openly LGBT people were serving. Chris Sgro, director of the LGBT advocacy group Equality NC, was later appointed to serve the remainder of the 2016 session. After he left, Democratic Rep. Cecil Brockman of High Point announced he is bisexual.
Butler ran unsuccessfully for an N.C. Senate seat in 2012. She was endorsed by Equality NC in her bid for Hamilton’s seat.
Butler’s appointment leaves one seat to be filled in the House. Durham County Democrats haven’t yet selected a replacement for Rep. Larry Hall, who is now Cooper’s secretary of veterans affairs.
According to the Wilmington Star-News, Butler said she plans to fight “regressive policies” of the current legislature. “If you know me at all, you know it’s going to be a firestorm, so watch out,” she said.