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One News Now

Sen. Ellie Kinnaird Resigns N.C. Senate Seat

By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
August 21, 2013

Sen. Ellie Kinnaird

Sen. Ellie Kinnaird

RALEIGH — Eleanor Kinnaird resigned Monday after 17 years in the N.C. Senate, announcing plans to spend her time helping Democrats to get elected statewide and working to ensure that Tar Heel residents are not disenfranchised by the recently passed Voter ID bill.

“I have greatly appreciated serving with my fellow legislators and all the elected officials in the District as we have worked for the good of our constituents. I also have appreciated the many people who have contacted me over the years as we worked together for good legislation,” said the ninth-term, 23rd District Senator as she announced her departure.

The Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, said he has great respect for Senator Kinnaird.

“It’s no secret that we starkly stand on opposite sides of many issues and differ in our perceptions of how best to improve the great state of North Carolina, but I’ve never questioned Sen. Kinnaird’s passion for the people of this state,” said Dr. Creech. “I so appreciate the times when we found common ground to work together.”

Sen. Kinnaird opposed the Marriage Amendment, supported the Racial Justice Act and was frequently endorsed by Equality North Carolina and Planned Parenthood Action Fund among others. Her district, which included Orange and Chatham counties, is arguably the most liberal area of the state.

Nonetheless, for years she worked side by side with the Christian Action League and other organizations passionate about stopping human trafficking, efforts that resulted in two significant bills passed this year: S 122, which places those convicted of trafficking on the sex offender registration; and S 683, which offers immunity for minors forced into prostitution, toughens penalties for traffickers, pimps and johns, and helps victims receive services and restitution.

Among the most recent of her dozens of awards for legislative and community service work, Sen. Kinnaird received certificates of recognition from Partners Against Trafficking Humans in N.C. (PATH) in 2012 and 2013.

An 81-year-old mother of three sons and grandmother of three, Sen. Kinnaird worked as a legal services lawyer and later in private practice. She is also a former educator and music librarian. An advocate of electoral reform and environmental protection and a vocal opponent of the death penalty, she has been involved in community service since she joined the League of Women Voters in 1964.

As a Senator, Kinnaird prided herself on working for the people of her district and not special interests.

“I have fought for open and honest government, for a quality education for all, for a robust economy with good jobs in the industries of the future, for a healthy environment, for equal opportunity and equal protection under the law and as an advocate for those with little hope,” she wrote on her web site.

Frustrated by the Election Reform Bill passed by Republicans this year and signed by the Governor Aug. 12, Sen. Kinnaird told reporters she wanted to spend her time working aggressively against what she called “voter suppression,” with a project to help people get the photo identification required to cast a ballot beginning in 2016.

As early as 2007, she had talked about ending her Senate career, with hopes that a female candidate would take up the torch in 2008. When none did, she ran again in 2010 and 2012 as well.

It will be up to a Democratic committee in District 23 to choose Kinnaird’s replacement.

“While we would hope for a lawmaker with a more conservative philosophy, we could not hope for a better person than Ellie Kinnaird,” said Dr. Creech. “You don’t have to always agree politically to recognize a decent human being when you see one. I commend Senator Kinnaird for her public service and the Christian Action League wishes the Senator all the best.”