The momentum of the Moral Monday Movement was alive and well in Chapel Hill yesterday, where hundreds of citizen activists convened downtown to continue the fight for freedom and justice. After the rally, we attended a candidates forum, where seven committed Democrats presented their ideas and credentials for filling Ellie Kinnaird's seat in the North Carolina Senate.
I came to the forum supporting Mark Chilton for the seat, and I still do. But I also came away confident that if he's not chosen, every one of the candidates would do an extraordinary job.
The best single line of the night was from Jim Porto. He introduced himself saying, "Like many of you here this evening, I am a former mayor of Carrboro." It's a bit of an inside joke, since there was another mayor of Carrboro in the forum, and because Senator Kinnaird is also a former mayor of Carrboro. Porto also described the GOP in North Carolina as a evil alien borg that has taken over our state. I couldn't agree more.
For many I talked with after the forum, the big surprise of the evening was Lynette Hartsell, a fired-up gay lawyer who came ready to kick ass and take names. Given the reality that no Democrat will have any significant influence on public policy in our gerrymandered Senate, I'd be all for a gay, ass-kicking woman lawyer. Phil Berger wouldn't know what hit him.
I don't envy the four-person committee that has to make the decision as to who will replace Ellie. One easy choice is Alice Borsden, Ellie's preferred choice. I found her to be competent and knowledgeable. Another easy choice would be Jim Porto. He said he would not run for election in 2014, guaranteeing an open seat that would be decided by actual voters instead of a committee. Several people I spoke with found his argument convincing.
The candidates from left to right (alphabetical order): Alice Borsden, Heidi Chapman, Mark Chilton, Valerie Foushee, Lynette Hartsell, Jim Porto, Amy Tieman.