RALEIGH — Dan Forest took the state’s No. 2 post Monday, pledging as lieutenant governor to have a closer relationship with the governor than his predecessor.
N.C. Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby administered the oath of office to Forest in a private ceremony at the state Capitol attended by family and elected leaders.
“We have these opportunities before us. I truly hope that we will be bold enough and courageous enough to make those things happen,” the Republican said as Gov. Pat McCrory and House Speaker Thom Tillis watched from the audience.
The 45-year-old Raleigh architect is the son of former U.S. Sue Myrick, R-Charlotte. He won his first bid for public office in November, narrowly defeating Democrat Linda Coleman with the help of tea party activists. His election gave the GOP control of the top two positions in state government and the two legislative chambers.
The lieutenant governor’s post has little inherent power, unless the governor is unable to serve. His duties include presiding over the state Senate and serving on a few boards and commissions. But Forest said his role on state boards for education and community colleges gives him ample opportunity to advance his agenda.
“There are a lot of windows open, a lot of doors open to allow us to walk through them,” he said.
Forest moved his swearing-in ceremony to early in the week to allow him to preside in the Senate when the General Assembly convenes Wednesday for a one-day session.
Outside his official role, Forest said he wants to have a more coordinated relationship with Gov. Pat McCrory, a shift from his predecessor, Democrat Walter Dalton.
“We really hope to have a close relationship with the governor,” he said. “…The better that working relationship, the better the opportunity we are going to have to get some things done.”
McCrory said Monday he has talked to Forest about tackling one of his administration’s key priorities – developing a 25-year transportation infrastructure plan – because of his architectural background. He also plans to consult with him on education policy.
“Even though we are not constitutionally connected … we are going to have him play a major role,” McCrory said.
Forest, who is considered more conservative than McCrory, expressed support during his campaign for a constitutional amendment limiting spending and requiring public schools to ask students for proof of citizenship.
In his remarks at the ceremony, Forest emphasized efforts to cut regulations on businesses and reducing taxes, including the possible elimination of personal and corporate income taxes.