Capping off 12 terms in the state House, Rep. Verla Insko (D-Orange County) yesterday announced plans to retire at the end of her term in December 2022. She’s one of the longest-serving Democrats in the North Carolina General Assembly, holding her seat for 24 years, or before the iPhone was invented, as she put it.

“It has just been an enormously gratifying career,” Insko told her fellow legislators on the House floor Wednesday. “I’ve been proud of actually being able to make a contribution to the difference that we make for people.” 

Insko has long been a progressive political champion for the Orange County area. She served as an Orange County Commissioner for four years and on the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education for nine years before she was elected to the North Carolina General Assembly in 1997. 

Insko is known for her work on health care, including on policies surrounding mental health issues and universal health care, as well on climate change, education, and civil rights. In her retirement speech on the House floor, Insko highlighted the ongoing educational disparities that still persist in North Carolina public schools. 

During Insko’s time serving in the House, the chamber, as well as the state Senate, became controlled increasingly by Republican lawmakers, as she noted.

“Our differences are really important,” Insko said. “I registered as a Republican. Both parties make mistakes. I thought the Republican Party had left me and so I became a Democrat, but those things go back and forth. That may change someday, and be just the opposite. So, keep true to your values. We have our differences, but one thing we have in common is we have those 80,000 people back home that are depending on us.”

Following Insko’s announcement, Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger praised her long service in a statement: 

“We are deeply grateful to Representative Insko for her dedicated service on behalf of our entire community and wish her well as she retires,” Hemminger said. “For the past 24 years, she has stood up for our community in the General Assembly, working hard to make sure that people have the resources they need and protecting the election process for voters across our state.”

Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle also released a statement: 

“Verla has had a remarkable tenure as our Representative, and I so appreciate the energy with which she has represented our community,” Lavelle said. “This has been even more important the last ten years, with the Democrats in the minority. During this time, Verla has had to speak even louder to make our voices heard, and we have all benefited from her continued advocacy on the House floor.”

Insko explained that she was making her announcement early to give legislative hopefuls time to make a decision about running in 2022 ahead of the December filing deadline. She posted on her Facebook account that she will “continue working to help elect more Democrats to the N.C. House as well as to other key state-level positions.”

“With all things in politics,” Insko wrote, “timing is everything.”

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