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A progressive leader returns to N.C.

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Chris Fitzsimon, former executive director of the Common Sense Foundation, is back in North Carolina. Fitzsimon had left his post at the Raleigh-based progressive policy and lobbying group to move up to Washington. But after a year in the capital, working for the Campaign to Protect America's Lands, Fitzsimon said he felt called to come home. "Frankly, I just feel like there are a lot of things in North Carolina, a lot of social justice efforts here, that I want to be a part of. This is my home, and I would much rather be working on things close to home that affect North Carolina right now."

One of those issues is the effort to pass a death penalty moratorium in the General Assembly. Legislation has already passed the Senate, and Fitzsimon has been hired as a consultant to work with the Center for Death Penalty Litigation, in cooperation with other groups, to lobby the House. North Carolina executed seven people in 2003, and already has executed one in 2004. "This is a historic opportunity to work on an issue I've cared about my entire life." He says he learned a lot while working in Washington, and hopes to bring that knowledge to the effort.

After the summer's legislative session is over, Fitzsimon says he's not sure yet what he'll do. "David Mills [who replaced Fitzsimon as executive director] is doing a great job at Common Sense, and I certainly want to do everything I can to help them. I just have to figure out where I can fit in the progressive movement in the state now. There are a lot of people doing great things, and if I can figure out how I can be of some help, that's what I want to do." Meanwhile, you can catch Fitzsimon on the TV show, "NC SPIN," where he will return as a regular panelist starting this week.

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