Who would you choose for 2013 Orange County Person of the Year?

For this first of three year-end/year-beginning posts, we are stealing an idea from long-time OP poster Mark Marcoplos.

Over on Facebook, Mark started a thread on who would be Orange County Person of the Year if we were to have such a thing and so, we thought we'd bring that question over here and see what others had to say (thanks for the idea Mark!).

The Chapel Hill Carrboro Chamber of Commerce awarded Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership Executive Director Meg McGurk Person of the Year for our two towns (a wonderful choice).

So, who would you want to see as Orange County Person of the Year and why?

[Look for our posts asking for your '2013 Stories of the Year' and 'What to Watch for in 2014' later this week and next.]


Del Snow ...for her leadership in approaching decision making in the county, especially Chapel Hill, in an analitical way and for  always being true to her beliefs that the strength of Mother Nature and the strength of Chapel Hill are intertwined and cannot be broken without grave concequences. You may not agree with her, but her honest and intellectual approach to the decision making process helps all of us see more clearly with results we can be proud of.

Paige Johnson is Vice President of External & Governmental Affairs at Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina. She spent what seemed like an endless year fighting against gender discrimination watching the GOPGA interfere in women's personal decisions to choose adoption, raise a child or end a pregnancy. Paige was at the GA on a daily basis fighting to keep Medicaid coverage for low-income women stating that denial of coverage is "blatantly cruel" setting up NC to be in disaster mode for generations to come. Paige was there to fight the now infamous SB353 better know as the "motorcycle vagina" bill and continues to stress the fact that Gov. McCrory went back on his campaign promise and has done more harm to women's rights by blocking funding for basic health care including annual exams, life-saving cancer screening, breast exams, STD screening and birth control.I will work with Paige to continue the fight for women's comprehensive health care in NC and that includes safe legal abortions.  I vote for Paige - OC Person of the year.   

Mark showed many kinds of leadership this year from rallying local elected officials to particpate in Moral Monday, to making room for new leadership in Carrboro after many years of service as a fantastic mayor. I also think Paige Johnson rocked out this year, but her service is to all of NC, not just Orange County. And Meg also had a wonderful year - I love the direction she is taking the Downtown Partnership.

There are so many great leaders making positive changes for Orange County but this year my pick is Valerie Foushee. While representing us in the NC House, she managed to get things done for our County even though the Republicans were in charge and in a vile temper.  She successfully lobbied to keep the Orange County Jail open after the Senate budget proposed closing it. Valerie also was instrumental in the passage of an economic development bill for Chapel Hill that will allow the town to participate in economic development projects outside of downtown. In collaboration with Senator Kinnaird, Valerie helped pass a local bill that gives the town of Carrboro greater flexibility in filling vacancies on the Board of Aldermen. Since becoming a Senator, she's already held three town hall events in Orange County.   Valerie has been a champion for our community for decades, but I thought her contributions in 2013 really stood out. I look forward to seeing what she can get done in the Senate in the short run with uncooperative leadership and in the long run when the forces of reason take back control.


I completely agree with your assessment, Mia. I think Valerie's approach to the NCGA has been refreshing and has truly benefited our community. I look forward to seeing what great things Valerie will do for us during her tenure in the NC Senate.

It's a tie for me. No-one else is remotely close. Mark has always found a way to simultaneously expand our understanding of the issues while still retaining credibility with enough folks across the political spectrum to actuall get stuff done. His leadership in the Moral Monday movement capped off a great chapter in his service. Ellie has simply been the most dedicated progressive representative in NC Legislative history. She always spoke out for fairness, justice, and environmental protection. She has often been the lone voice reminding us of our better political nature. She is the only candidate in my lifetime that I have ever voted for
with 110% enthusiasm and support every time.   

I absolutely agree with Mark. I think that Mark and Ellie are the most deserving of the nod this year. Mark end this season of his public service in a great way, and Ellie's long term effects will make OC a better place to be well into the future...

I'm not sure what the criteria are for this award, but my vote would be for Gene Nichol and the work he has done on making poverty a front and center part of the political dialogue. The UNC Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity has blossomed into a productive organization under Gene's leadership. His series in the News and Observer has inundated the public with facts about the extent of a problem that we should all hang our heads in shame over. While he doesn't focus exclusively on Orange County, his work serves to highlight the problems not just in the state and surrounding counties, but here in our own county. 

Gene was willing to come to our Sunday School class on poverty and was his usual self for an hour with us.  Really appreciate how he highlighted churches that are doing it right around the state and the challenges we have.


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