Gov. Pat McCrory will give his first State of the State address on Monday. As the first Republican governor elected in more than 20 years, Republicans and Democrats alike have their own ideas about how he should set his first agenda for North Carolina.
With his party controlling the lawmaking for the first time since the 1800s, its an agenda that has a good chance of becoming reality. When Wilmington resident Michael Wooten, 60, voted for McCrory in November, it was the first time he voted for a Republican candidate for governor in his life, he said. And it had little to do with McCrorys politics: Former Gov. Perdues administration saw too much political head-butting, Wooten said.
I have spent my entire life looking at this from the center to the left of center, and Im just tired of the political gridlock, Wooten said. If McCrory can break this, then thatll be fine. But if he doesnt, or if he starts pushing the radical right agenda, then hes going to have to go, and thats just how I feel about it.
Wooten said what he would like to see most is McCrory addressing the issues with more than just platitudes but specific plans.
Nearly everyone interviewed in spot checks on Saturday expressed concern for job creation in North Carolina, where the statewide unemployment rate hangs at 9.2 percent.
Bill Edwards, 62, owns North Raleigh Guns, and said he voted for McCrory as a small business owner before he considered gun politics. Hes been operating his business for nearly two years, and as hes begun expanding, he says hes faced state regulations that have made it difficult.
Edwards has opened two locations in two years and is working to open his first shooting range, Triangle Shooting Academy, but said he has been frustrated dealing with parking and signage regulations.
Were going to hire 50 to 60 employees, and Im not asking for anything from the city or the state; Im just asking for them not to put too many roadblocks in my way, Edwards said. Weve got to be small-business friendly: The regulations that they impose on us need to be relaxed a little bit so we can expand.
Raleigh resident Leon Sanderson, 73, said he hopes McCrory will address making North Carolina a competitive business environment, especially compared with surrounding states.
Debate on jobs has led to debate on higher education McCrory grabbed statewide attention in January after he said on a radio program that he doesnt want the state to subsidize liberal arts courses like gender studies when they wont result in graduates getting jobs.
Bob Hulbert, an assistant district attorney in Snow Hill, said he hopes to see McCrory explain the details of exactly what hes planning to do to higher education.
I hope he gives a good explanation of exactly what he meant in those remarks, because if he says Were going to reform the funding so that we cut down liberal arts programs, thats bad, Hulbert said, adding that he studied history at Wake Forest University. I can understand that you are always going to have some courses that arent going to get you a job, but the good outweighs the bad.
Chris Frey, an environmental engineering professor at N.C. State University, echoed Hulberts comments.
I teach a lot of North Carolina residents who go out and get jobs. But theyre not just robots: Theyre trained to go out and think, Frey said. I dont have much hope for what (McCrory) is going to say, but what I would hope he would address is his public statements on education, which are not well founded Im not sure he understands the importance of higher education.