Less than a week after becoming the new governor of North Carolina, Pat McCrory visited New Bern to talk with constituents and cast his vision for North Carolina's future.
North Carolina is now under the leadership of the newly elected Governor, Republican Pat McCrory. Last Saturday, He was sworn in at the Old Senate Chamber in Raleigh. He didn’t waste any time getting to work. On his first official day in office, McCrory signed an executive order that dissolves a non-partisan commission formed by former Gov. Beverly Perdue that nominates appeals and superior court judges for judicial positions.
Gov. McCrory also announced three new appointments to his staff: Chris Estes will serve as the state’s new chief of information officer, Fred Steen will be his legislative liaison, and Tony Almedia was named the governor’s top economic advisor. The state's 74th governor spent the first half of this week traveling around the State and meeting with local and state elected officials to hear their concerns and ideas to improve North Carolina’s economy, education system and infrastructure.
“It’s very important to me as the state’s chief executive officer to have this dialogue with state and local officials on their home turf as opposed to them coming to Raleigh.”
On Tuesday, the Governor made stops in Greensboro and New Bern as part of his statewide inauguration celebration tour. He spent his time in New Bern meeting constituents and hearing their concerns. In a brief interview with McCrory, he said getting North Carolina’s struggling economy back on track is his main concern.
“I think that we first have to admit that we have a problem and that our brand has been tarnished. And that we’re living off of the past great brand of North Carolina that was booming in the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and the first decade of 2000’s. But the fact of the matter is Virginia, Tennessee, and South Carolina took some major steps in reforming their economy that has made them in some ways beat us for jobs which has never happened before. The last economic strategy we can find in my first two weeks or week was from 1985. That plan needs updating.”
Currently, North Carolina is ranked fifth in the nation for the highest unemployment rate though Gov. McCrory didn’t offer any concrete solution on how he plans to reenergize the economy. During the interview, he did mention other short term goals and challenges - such as solving the passenger ferry toll increase.
“I think we need to come up with a long-term solution but I am going to give my new DOT secretary a chance to review not just a short term fix but a long term solution and so I don’t have a response to what our answer will be but I want to give Tony an opportunity to review all the options. We can’t just keep putting it off… not wanting a solution. We’ve got to deal with it.”
During the inauguration celebration tour, McCrory said he’d like see a voter identification bill on his desk requiring identification such as voter registration cards or other required identification in order to cast a ballot in person. While at Tryon Palace, he also briefly mentioned changes to the school year calendar.
“An internal argument in our state between the travel and tourism industry and the county school board that want some adjustments. And what’s ironic is they all live next door to each other. But what I hope to do is… I like to give counties as much flexibility as possible so maybe there’s some middle ground here. But it is an argument that is sure going to open some wounds that were just settled 4 to 6 years ago. And I’ve got to pick my battles… and my number one battle is the economy.”
McCrory also held a closed door meeting with local, county and state officials where he listened to their concerns and shared his plan on issues like protecting military installations, the future of the state’s agriculture industry, and the ports in Morehead City and Wilmington. He also took a private tour of Tryon Palace, which served as the state’s capital until 1794.
At 6pm on Tuesday, he gave a speech to a crowd of about 250 people at the Tryon Palace History Center where he promised this wouldn’t be his only visit to eastern North Carolina.
“There are a lot of people hurting in this state right now. We are still the fifth highest unemployment rate in the country, and we have people barely hanging on to their homes, we have people that are having difficulty paying their rent, business people hanging on and barely paying their loan, and the list goes on and on… we have kids graduating from our great universities and moving back into their parent’s and the parents don’t like that and neither do the kids… so we have a lot of work to do.”
The former Charlotte mayor wrapped up the statewide inaugural celebration tour with a stop in the “Queen City” on Wednesday. The official inauguration ceremony takes place Saturday night at the Raleigh Convention Center. I’m Jared Brumbaugh.