RALEIGH, N.C. — Gov.-elect Pat McCrory said Thursday that he is busy building a network of advisers and staff to help with the transition to his administration in January, and he wants to work closely with Gov. Beverly Perdue and top lawmakers.
McCrory met with Perdue Thursday morning to discuss issues addressing the state, including the potential economic impact of mandatory federal budget cuts to a looming deadline associated with the national health care reform law.
Perdue was "incredibly gracious and cooperative," he said, adding that she's also working with him and his wife on their move to the Executive Mansion when he takes office.
"I can't tell you how much I appreciate that continuity that's very, very important for leadership in North Carolina," he said, noting that he's also gotten insights from former Govs. Jim Holshouser, Jim Martin and Mike Easley.
McCrory said his staff has been assembling a transition team over the past month so he could hit the ground running once the election was over.
Thomas Stith, a former Durham City Council member and one-time mayoral candidate, will direct the transition team. A former vice president of the Civitas Institute, a conservative think tank, Stith is the program director for economic development at the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise in the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The team will scour the public and private sectors nationwide to find the best people for leadership positions in the new administration, McCrory said. They already have set up a website, www.workforpat.com, to solicit applications for people seeking to work or volunteer.
The team also will review government policies and the operations of cabinet agencies to determine what can be reorganized or streamlined, he said. He cited the departments of Commerce, Transportation and Environment and Natural Resources are agencies where he plans to pay particular attention because of their respective connections to economic development, infrastructure and regulations.
McCrory said every member of his transition team and steering committee has signed an ethics pledge. He wants his administration to operate transparently, he said, and with a culture of customer service.
"We treat each other as partners, and the No. 1 goal is to help North Carolina," he said, adding that he plans to instill that attitude across state government.
One service McCrory has gotten for himself already is a security detail and a state-paid car.
Perdue spokesman Pearse Edwards said it's not standard procedure for an elected official to get a security detail until he or she is sworn in, but the McCrory campaign requested one and the Perdue administration approved it.
McCrory declined to discuss the request.
"One thing I learned as mayor is I don't talk about security," he said. "My biggest concern is my family – that's all I care about – and I'm not going to talk about security anymore. I didn't as mayor, and I'm not as governor."
Spokesman Brian Nick said McCrory hasn't received any threats, and the security is just a precaution.
"He's going to be having very high-profile meetings and visits and things like that, (so) security does become an issue," Nick said. "It's the same reason why our current governor has security (and) the previous governor had security."
When Perdue was elected, she already had security as lieutenant governor.
Neither McCrory's campaign nor Perdue's office could provide the cost of the security detail, but it will be paid for by taxpayers through the transition fund set aside for the new administration.
The fund is usually $420,000, but Republican lawmakers this year raised it to $750,000. At the time, McCrory said he didn't expect to need the extra money, but now, he's not so sure.
"My goal is not to (use it all). I do want to recognize that we're going through a very unique transition," he said, referring to the fact that he's the first Republican governor in 20 years and comes from outside state government. "I'm having to start from scratch."
McCrory declined to outline any legislative priorities Thursday, but he said he already has spoken with House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and plans to talk next week with top Democrats in the General Assembly. Republicans control both the House and Senate, but he emphasized that he wants to forge bipartisan efforts to address issues.
"This is going to be a team approach, and North Carolina is our customer," he said. "I'm looking for solutions. I don't think problem-solvers necessarily have (political) labels on their foreheads."
McCrory still hasn't set a date for his inauguration, saying he's trying to tackle first the other details of taking the reins of state government.
"I'm more interested in governing, rather than dealing with the other minutiae (of the transition)," he said.