North Carolina’s new governor, Republican Pat McCrory, was sworn in this weekend as the state’s highest office holder. The former mayor of Charlotte took the oath of office publicly on Saturday, though he took the oath privately the weekend before. The ceremony- which also included the swearing-in of ten Council of State members- was held on the grounds of North Carolina’s historic Old Capitol building.
Thousands of people gathered in downtown Raleigh on Saturday to celebrate Governor McCrory’s inauguration. As the North Carolina National Guard 440th Army Band played, dignitaries seated themselves on a special stage where the ceremony was held. In his inaugural address, Governor McCrory said we face challenges as a state.
Pat McCrory: "And today we are setting a new strategy and vision, a new strategy and vision to unleash the strength of our industries, and the entrepreneurial talent and energy of our citizens. We will lead the way once again right here in North Carolina."
McCrory said there are ways to fight an unemployment rate that is the fifth highest in the country. He wants to get rid of what he calls burdensome taxes, and rules and regulations stifling economic growth. He hopes to make state government more efficient, expand agricultural exports, unleash energy resources and harness new technology in education…but on a budget.
McCrory: "Government cannot solve all these problems alone, because frankly there is no new money falling out of the sky. Like struggling families across our state, government has to live within its means. We should not ask for more money from you because the result will be more pain to families and small businesses on Main Street."
That could prove to be difficult. The state is in a better financial situation than it was four years ago, but revenues aren’t exactly booming. McCrory is the first Republican governor in 20 years, and he’s backed by a Republican-controlled legislature that’s opposed to traditional tax increases. Republicans at the ceremony were in a celebratory mood. The master of ceremonies, former Republican Lieutenant Governor Jim Gardner, made a joke after former Democratic Governor Jim Hunt’s name was mentioned.
Jim Gardner: "Is this not a great day in North Carolina? I’m even up here clapping for Jim Hunt."
Gardner lost a gubernatorial bid against Jim Hunt in 1992. The next guest on the program, Bishop George Battle of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, was quick to parry back.
George Battle: "I would just like to say to Lieutenant Governor Gardner: we have something in common. I used to serve you at the country club. So you be careful how you talk about my Governor Hunt."
After the ceremony, an inaugural parade wound its way through the streets of downtown Raleigh. Cary resident Jonathan Martin was watching with his kids. He says he’d like to see Governor McCrory usher in an era of greater civility to North Carolina.
Jonathan Martin: "Just feels like there’s a lot of partisanship that’s been going on, and hopefully people can put that behind them and do what they were elected to do, and bring some positive change to the state."
Down the road, Greta Smith of Raleigh stepped out of her job at a furniture store to catch sight of the governor and his wife as they waved to crowds from a vintage red convertible. Smith says she didn’t pay much attention to the gubernatorial campaign, but she says she hopes Governor McCrory has families like hers in mind.
Greta Smith: "I just hope for fairness for all. Not leaning towards the rich, but not leaning towards the poor, you know, bringing a broad perspective to all."
Smith wishes the Governor well in his quest to improve the state’s economy. She says that’s something she’d love to see happen.