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Advice for North Carolina’s Governor-elect

As Pat McCrory begins the process of moving to Raleigh, and setting-up his team, the editorial board of the Greensboro News & Record [1] offers the Governor-elect this advice:

‘North Carolina needs good jobs, better schools and plans to deliver government services more effectively at less cost. The governor-elect hasn’t spelled out in detail how he’ll accomplish those goals, but he built an impressive record in Charlotte for getting positive things done. Expectations are high that he can move North Carolina in the right direction now. [2]

During his seven terms as mayor, Charlotte launched a light-rail system, developed an appealing “uptown” environment and raised its national profile to the point where it could be selected to host a national convention. McCrory set partisanship aside in the city’s best interests.

Now, when his party will control all of state government except some Council of State offices, McCrory should take the same approach. He wasn’t elected to follow the legislature’s plunge to the right but to find pragmatic solutions that can win bipartisan support. Mitt Romney’s more narrow win in North Carolina shows that this state is still closely divided politically, and McCrory won’t succeed in the long run by ignoring the interests and concerns of nearly half the electorate. Nor should he let Republican legislators, although they have a two-year head start in power, dictate an overly conservative agenda.

That would not have worked for McCrory in Charlotte, and it won’t work in governing North Carolina. The shortcomings of the last two Democratic governors, Perdue and Mike Easley, had nothing to do with partisan politics. They simply didn’t lead with enough imagination and creativity. They didn’t push hard enough to modernize state government to meet the challenges of changing times. Tax reform, infrastructure innovations, education initiatives and 21st century industrial development are not partisan issues. Everyone’s input, Republicans’ and Democrats’, should be considered when setting policies for the next four years and beyond.

McCrory has the potential to be an outstanding governor, as he was a mayor. He gets up this morning with the wind at his back in the form of a strong election victory. But he faces big problems, including a high unemployment rate and an economy that still isn’t generating much tax revenue.

Universities, community colleges and K-12 education have taken enough spending cuts. Roads and bridges need repairs. Medicaid funding is a problem. The state owes Washington a huge debt for unemployment loans. McCrory’s leadership skills will be put to the test from the start, so he’ll have to get out in front of problems and never look back.’