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Dems to meet to replace McManus in House 54



Area Democrats hope to put an embarrassing embezzlement scandal for one of their own behind them.

Rep. Deb McManus, who until last month represented House District 54, resigned after she was arrested and charged with embezzlement.

Democratic Party executive committee members in that district, which includes Chatham and Lee counties, will meet Friday, Jan. 24, at 5:30 p.m. at the Historic Chatham County Courthouse in Pittsboro to discuss a replacement. Gov. Pat McCrory is expected to accept the group's nomination.

Party leaders will hold an information session on the vacancy from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday at the historic courthouse.

McManus, a longtime board of education member in Chatham County, was in her first legislative term when she resigned. The replacement will serve the balance of McManus' term, which expires at the end of 2014.

The state Department of Revenue said McManus, who serves as bookkeeper for her husband's medical office, Carolina Family Practice in Siler City, misappropriated $47,369 of state tax money. McManus, who is charged with three counts of embezzlement of state property, is accused of the wrongdoing between January 2011 and last July. McManus did not return INDY phone calls for comment on this story.

Interested candidates thus far include James Heymen, a mental health counselor from Pittsboro; Cedric Blade of Siler City; Robert Reives II, an attorney from Sanford; Kathie Russell, a former Chatham school board member from Moncure; Tim Weiner, a physician from Siler City; and Jeffrey Starkweather, a civil rights attorney and former newspaper publisher from Pittsboro.

Starkweather ran against McManus for the District 54 party nomination in 2012.

According to the state courts' website, McManus' hearing is set for Feb. 6 in Wake County District Court in Raleigh. —Billy Ball

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