Governor Patrick McCrory met with supporters and local officials Monday evening (January 7). The event, held at the Crest Center in Woodfin, provided an opportunity for McCrory to address Western North Carolina directly.
McCrory was joined by Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy, US Congressman Patrick McHenry, and State Representative Nathan Ramsey. Also in attendance were Woodfin Mayor Jerry VeHaun, Woodfin Aldermen Debbie Giezentanner, Don Hensley and Jackie Bryson, as well as many other local officials.
McHenry led off the speech, stating, “Growing up to the west of I-77, as a child, we all knew that according to Raleigh, North Carolina ended at I-77,” he said. “It is a very significant thing that our new governor, after being sworn in to office, his first order of business was to travel directly to Asheville. That is a statement of past priorities for the State of North Carolina and Western North Carolina. He knows we exist. He understands that the beauty, the economic potential and economic power of Western North Carolina and he knows that Asheville is the hub.”
Bellamy introduced the Governor, by lauding his past accomplishments as Mayor of Charlotte, which included lowering property taxes and lowered crime rates. “When the state legislature was looking at how to deal with gangs and crime within the state of North Carolina, they were wrestling with the issues in a way that was inappropriate for cities.” She continued to describe the efforts that McCrory went to gather other Mayors, including Bellamy herself, police officials to protest the methods that the state legislature were discussing. “He said, ‘Let’s not just talk about the issues, let’s show Raleigh, let’s show them what’s happening in our communities because they [were] out of touch.” She also crediting McCrory for investments made to Downtown Charlotte and the resulting improvements to the local economy that followed.
McCrory took the stage to ovations from the gathered supporters and elected officials. “In the past, the inauguration was usually just inside the belt line in Raleigh.” He continued “What I want to do is something different, what we wanted to do, then, is visit the rest of the state, and listen and learn from the people throughout the state of North Carolina.”
He noted that economics in the state are not what they should be. “There are college graduates from our great schools,” he said, “who are graduating, and the kids can’t find jobs right now. To me thats not the North Carolina that my parents brought me to.” He added that “there is unlimited opportunity in North Carolina, and all we got to do is unleash that opportunity.”
Along similar lines, McCrory noted that he needs to identify and recruit talented problem solvers to his administration. “I needed people who could change and fix a broken government and a broken economy in North Carolina. One of the first things you have to do, is recognize that you have a problem. Right now we have the greatest state in the United States of America and we have serious problems that we have to fix.” In regards to the broken government operations, he stated “we have some real breakdowns, especially when it comes to information systems, communications, efficiencies.” He indicated that these “structural breakdowns” were exposed during the 2008 recession.
Noting his appointment of Sharon Decker to the position of State Commerce Secretary, he noted that the last long term economic development strategy implemented in the state was 1985. He hopes to develop an integrated commerce plan that applies to all of the state’s businesses.
He also announced that he has set up committees that are reviewing policies that impact the state. “We are doing it with a sense of urgency,” he said adding that he will present on the findings within the month of January.
Concluding, McCrory relayed a phrase that his father, a former elected official in Ohio, used. “We must walk the fine line between continuing our economic prosperity while also protecting the quality of life and environment that brought many of us here.”