Raleigh, N.C. — A week after he was sworn in to office in a private ceremony, Gov. Pat McCrory took a public oath of office Saturday morning in North Carolina's traditional inauguration ceremonies.
Lt. Gov. Dan Forest and the eight other Council of State members also participated in the inauguration on the south side of the State Capitol.
Previous inaugurations have been held outside the State Archives Building on East Jones Street, but McCrory said he wanted the change to signal more openness in his administration.
"We're here on historic grounds with our majestic and beautiful State Capitol behind us looking out at our capital city and the rest of our state," he said in his inaugural address. "We're at the intersection of government and Main Street."
Main Street was a common theme of his 22-minute address, as he called on state government to get out of the way of small businesses and help the state grow instead of being an obstacle of success.
"Our face and our approach should be outward, not inward," he said. "Today, we are setting 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 promised his audience that state budgets would continue to be lean and taxes low so that families would have more of their own money to spend. Instead of taxing and spending on programs, he said, state government would work in partnership with businesses to promote economic growth.
"Government cannot solve all these problems alone because there is no new money falling out of the sky," he said. "Government must work with business as partners – not against them as adversaries – to identify and eliminate burdensome taxes, rules and regulations that stifle economic growth."
North Carolina's public schools need to take advantage of technology to change the way students learn and to prepare them for the jobs that businesses need, McCrory said.
"There is no limit to what every student in North Carolina can learn and achieve, and this leads to more efficiency as well, which will save our state money," he said. "I believe there are two core functions of education: We must exercise and use our brains and ignite the spark of potential that each of us have that will lead to success."
Enola Lineberger, a member of the Moore County Board of Education, said she hopes the governor backs up his support for classroom technology.
"We hope there will be some funding for that this year," Lineberger said. "We hope he is supportive of education of our students. He seemed to be – that's what we heard from the podium anyway."
McCrory emphasized teamwork, from his cabinet to families across North Carolina, to expand opportunities for success for all residents.
"Working together, we can make North Carolina the place of unlimited opportunity, a place where anyone who studies hard, works hard and lives a life with high values can fulfill and even exceed their potential," he said.
Changing the government culture in Raleigh has been a longtime priority for McCrory, and many who attended the inauguration support the effort.
"It's a new frontier for North Carolina," said David March, of the College Republicans at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
"We're going to unleash the entrepreneurship of the state of North Carolina," inauguration attendee Ed Strickland said.
Like McCrory, Forest took his oath of office early in a small ceremony Monday. The two wanted to be installed before the General Assembly convened on Wednesday for its 2013-14 legislative session.
After the inauguration, state officials moved to a reviewing stand on the east side of the Capitol for the inaugural parade, which wound through downtown Raleigh. McCrory and his wife, Ann, rode in the early part of the parade in red 1957 Chevrolet convertible.
The parade included a performance by marching bands from Ragsdale High School in Jamestown and Catawba College in Salisbury, the governor's alma maters. Other parade participants included a flyover by the North Carolina Army National Guard, Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler leading a team of antique tractors and an RV promoting North Carolina agriculture and Durham Bulls mascot Wool E. Bull leading a float celebrating the state's tourism industry.
The McCrorys held an open house at the Executive Mansion on Saturday afternoon. The governor spent much of his first week in office at similar open houses in Asheville, Charlotte, Greensboro and New Bern.
"We also wanted to make the whole week an opportunity of getting to know North Carolina and meeting the people, and then having the final celebration here in Raleigh," he said recently.
On Saturday night, the Foundation for North Carolina Inc., a nonprofit formed to promote McCrory positions, was hosting an invitation-only fundraiser dinner with the governor and first lady at Carolina Country Club.