Long-serving Democrat from Orange County to retire from NC legislature

N.C. Rep. Verla Insko speaks as a rally held at the Student Stores on the UNC campus on Monday, Nov. 30, 2015.

N.C. Rep. Verla Insko speaks as a rally held at the Student Stores on the UNC campus on Monday, Nov. 30, 2015.

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A long-serving Democratic state representative from Orange County will retire from the North Carolina General Assembly after this term.

State Rep. Verla Insko, who has represented Orange County since 1997, announced her decision Wednesday. Her term ends Dec. 31, 2022. She is currently the longest-serving Democrat in chamber.

Insko has been a consistent, liberal voice on expanding health care access and reforming mental health services. The Orange County representative also was a top budget writer on health issues when Democrats controlled the House.

She helped lead a committee in the early 2000s focused on improving ballot security, especially with the rise of electronic voting system.

“I’m proud of the work I’ve done over the last 24 years, especially in education, health care and election law,” Insko said in a statement.

Insko, 85, has been an elected official for decades, serving on the Chapel HIll-Carrboro Board of Education from 1977 to 1985. She was on the Orange County Board of Commissioners from 1990 to 1994. She worked for U.S. Rep. David Price in his district office and was chair of the Orange County Democratic Party.

She also worked for Smart Start when former Gov. Jim Hunt started the program.

Insko, a retired health care administrator, was known for her work on mental health issues in the legislature.

“Few understand the long hours and late nights she has put into committee meetings, House sessions, and meeting and communicating with constituents,” said former House Speaker Joe Hackney in a statement. “Her expertise and experience in health care and public education, in particular, will be missed.”

Her announcement comes weeks before the GOP-controlled legislature draws General Assembly districts for the next decade. Her departure will give mapmakers more flexibility to set boundaries in Orange County. Candidate filing begins in December. The Democratic primary winner in March almost assuredly will get elected to the seat in November 2022 given the area’s leftward electoral leaning.

For more North Carolina government and politics news, listen to the Under the Dome politics podcast from The News & Observer and the NC Insider. You can find it at or wherever you get your podcasts.

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This story was originally published September 15, 2021 11:21 AM.

Brian Murphy covers North Carolina’s congressional delegation and state issues from Washington, D.C., for The News & Observer, The Charlotte Observer and The Herald-Sun. He grew up in Cary and graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill. He previously worked for news organizations in Georgia, Idaho and Virginia. Reach him at [email protected]

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