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Ask Anything: 10 questions with Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory

Posted August 25, 2009

Are you going to consider running for governor again or maybe even running for Senate? – Cecil Woodall, Smithfield

Yes. Running a state-wide race was a great experience (except for election night!!!) and I am proud of the campaign we ran. We participated in (and most believe we won) every debate and proved that a candidate can run an effective, positive campaign. We lived within our fundraising means, didn’t take any loans, and ended the campaign without any debt, just in the same manner I promised I would govern.

Dear Mayor McCrory, first I hope that you take another run at the governor’s race in about three years. What do you think of the term so far of the current administration? – Mandy Poole, Knightdale

I believe the appointments for Secretary of Commerce (J. Keith Crisco) and Secretary of Transportation (Gene Conti) were actually quite good. However, the current administration has done an about face on about everything she promised during our campaign. Our new Governor has raised taxes, reduced mental health care, laid off teachers, and closed much needed prisons. There has been no effort to change the culture of how state government decisions are discussed behind closed doors. Campaign violations by the past and current Administration continue to be exposed well after the election.

How would you have handled the budget differently than our current governor? What would be your top three priorities at this time? – Lynn, Cary

Before ever considering tax increases, I would have initiated major reforms of state government. I would have first made the budget process more transparent and open to scrutiny by both the public and media before the budget was adopted. My major priorities would have been:

1) Not to not raise taxes in order to maintain private sector jobs

2) Education reform

3) Strengthen public safety.

The new N.C. budget unfortunately has a tax increase and you vowed not to raise taxes in your race versus Perdue. What specifically would you have cut from the budget to prevent a tax increase? – Glenn Oliver, New Hill

I would have reduced bureaucracy and duplication in the University system, eliminated perks, such as state airplanes, and begun selling assets to reduce operating costs, in areas in which the state government does not need to be directly involved. For example, I would have transferred retail operation of the ABC liquor store system to the existing private sector stores, yet retained the much-needed revenue from those sales. The operation savings and the sale of assets would have been transferred to the budget deficit and to help retain teachers. I would have vetoed any effort to continue to subsidize out-of-state athletes with in-state tuition. I would have also started the process to allow offshore oil drilling to create much needed jobs and generate new revenue for the State.

Mayor McCrory: I am a life-long Democrat who seldom votes for a Republican because I ordinarily find my opinions to be diametrically opposed to the GOP's. You are different from most Republicans and I voted for you. I probably would vote for you again if I agree or see that your philosophy concerning health care reform is that it has to be changed. Therefore, my question is: What is your position concerning policy that N.C. can institute that will make health care universally accessible to all citizens, affordable and better than our current system which I see as a failure? – Chris David, Raleigh

We need healthcare reform at both the federal and state level. However, many of the solutions coming out of Washington, D.C, would cause an even greater deficit and could actually rob the Medicare system of already limited revenue. I would propose major tort reform, especially to assist emergency room doctors in rural areas, reduce the number of state-required mandates so young people can afford to buy insurance in N.C., and I would look for more competition among insurance companies.

Mr. McCrory, how would you handle the gas tax situation? Would you have done what Gov. Perdue did? I now wish you would have won the election. – Andrew Demchak, Benson

I was a proponent of capping the gas tax, especially during these tough economic times. I would make sure our transportation expenditures are based upon four major factors:

1) Safety

2) Traffic congestion

3) Environment, and

4) Economic development, which is presently not the case.

I am an advocate for the State planning and partnering with local communities in developing a transportation plan with many choices, including roads, greenways, bikeways, and sidewalks to complement the needs of both small towns and large cities. Unfortunately, our State DOT is not as flexible as it needs to be and we still have a political formula of where and how we build and maintain roads in N.C. This must change.

PLEASE run again for governor in the next election. You came so close last time and I think you could win next time. I voted for you the first time, but many of my fellow educators thought Perdue was better for education. Could you please briefly explain what you would do for education? Thanks! – Beth Meyers, Benson

Education runs deep in my family. I obtained my N.C. teaching certificate after college and my sister was a teacher with Wake County schools until the latest round of budget cuts. My vision for the K-12 level is to decentralize the decision making and bureaucracy to allow principals and teachers more flexibility in teaching the basics, instead of just tests. I want to ensure teachers are backed up when addressing discipline problems in the classroom. I support immediately lifting the cap on charter schools to allow more choice for parents and students.

I believe the community college system needs to return to putting more emphasis on trade and technical education, as opposed to junior college curriculum. At the university level, we first must remove the politics and the culture of creating numerous levels of management outside of the classroom. I would also look at a process to eliminate duplication, course work among schools and introducing shared curriculum through more efficient, long-distance technology.

To what extent do you think that the major political parties are marginalizing their candidates and nominees by requiring them to march in lockstep with party lines rather than allowing them to speak/vote with their own conscience/values? If you do not, please explain. – J.B. Jones, Raleigh

The major problem with political parties is that they continue to gerrymander districts to guarantee elections at the local, state and federal level. This gives limited choices to voters at election time and also discourages any bipartisan cooperation. Most elections for state legislators are determined in the primary because of this political scheme. I believe party affiliation does give voters information as they go into the voting booth, but I hope people are also evaluating candidates based on past performance and the values they espouse and live up to.

What do you think was your biggest mistake in your campaign? – Lisa Elliott, Raleigh

We thought our opponent was Beverly Perdue, when in fact, we underestimated the role and impact of the Obama organization and their ability to impact the Governor’s race by encouraging straight ticket voting. We didn’t know at the time that the Obama campaign had more than 300 paid staff members spread throughout the state and were pouring literally millions of dollars to make North Carolina competitive with a message to vote a straight-party ticket. We simply didn’t have the money to overcome those resources.

To what do you attribute your loss in the governor's election of November 2008? I thought you won the debates, and your experience topped Perdue's. Was your loss attributable to Obama's coat tails? – Beverly Rush, Durham

Most political experts would say that we won the debates and ran an effective and positive campaign – all without incurring any debt while being outspent by 3 to 1. Most political pundits would agree that we lost for four primary reasons:

1) First and most important was the Obama campaign and their unlimited resources to make North Carolina a contested state and encourage straight-ticket voting

2) The third party, libertarian candidate taking limited, but very important and valuable votes from our efforts

3) Weaker Republican national ticket which had little or no coattails

4) The economic meltdown in September and October while President Bush was in office no doubt also impacted the election.

Unfortunately, some voters believed the Perdue campaign’s shameless, inaccurate, and negative ads on radio and TV stations during the last four weeks. Despite these factors, I am very proud we received over 60 percent of the vote among those who voted specifically on election day. No matter the outcome, I am proud that our integrity and reputation are intact after the campaign. Overall, it was a wonderful, yet heartbreaking, experience.

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43 Comments

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  • ncwebguy Sep 3, 12:50 p.m.

    It is exactly this kind of playing fast and loose with numbers and facts that we *don't* need in the governor's mansion.

    He counts money spent by third parties against Perdue, yet money spent by other groups for him did *not* count. It is a tricky use of words and is intellectually dishones, but a lot of people don't care.

    McCain and Palin *didn't* have coattails in North Carolina in the campaign? Hardly. He made the decision to keep his distance, and deserves no sympathy for it.

    He thinks ABC stores will return the same profits if private companies run them. Wrong.

    Keeping the gas tax cap somehow magically generates enough revenue to combat congestion? No.

    It is amazing that people would vote for someone so wrong so often, but at least was in lock step with President Bush. Charlotte prospered due to the deregulated banks HQ'd there, not his "leadership".

  • leehuntley3 Sep 1, 11:53 a.m.

    I would like to say I am a democrat, and I do feel as if I made the wrong choice of voting a straight party ticket, because it brought so many unprepared people into the system. I feel that McCory would have been a better Gov for this state. I do hope he will reconsider and run again, he will definitely get my vote. Bev is destroying what little self-pride we do have and causing us more grief.

  • kuzin11 Aug 31, 7:50 p.m.

    RLW, I would agree with you if so many people both Democratic and Republican did not vote a straight ticket. Any reasonable person does not connect with everyone running for different offices in one political party. Straight ticket voting is the easy way out. We do not independently investigate the people running for office. We listen to these tainted ads on TV and believe everything that is said. We deserve everything we get. Once we get tired of it (politics as usual) then maybe we will get off our lazy buts and explore the people running to represent us. Our pay to play political system is broken. We cannot rely on our current representatives to fix it. We can fix it by voting every single one of them out of office. This is the first step in taking the money factor out of the political equation. Will it take the falling of America such as Rome did to wake everyone up? Probably. God help us all.

  • Here kitty kitty Aug 31, 6:21 p.m.

    xxxetc must be a dem...I believe Pat McCrory could have turned this state around. Too bad Gov Bev rode in on Pres O's coattails. Oh well, hope all those who voted for her are happy especially with our sales tax increase tomorrow!

  • luvbailey Aug 31, 9:53 a.m.

    A class act. Let's hope he gives it another shot in 2012. I wish we could take a mulligan on the 08 election. And for the post re: high taxes in Charlotte, McCory has NO vote on the county rate and only 1 vote for the city rate on property taxes. And, if I'm not mistaken, the county sets the entire sales tax rate (although I'm not 100% because Charlotte gets and extra 1/2% for transportation but I think this is decided by referendum rather than vote of city council or county commission - mabye someone will clarify that.)

  • RLW Aug 28, 7:11 p.m.

    It amazes me how many credit the president's and the governor's victories to race and sex, respectively. Apparently the only people with any sense are the ones who vote republican. Not!! People vote their needs and beliefs. The times are too serious for any sensible person to vote for someone because they are black, female, former POW, because they were mayor during a city's boom time. I truly believe that people voted for who they wanted bc they were inspired, bc they related to the candidate, they found a connection. To say that Obama took advantage of new voters discredits the voters' ability to make sound decisions and does not account for the many middle aged folks who also voted for him. This like saying Bush took advantage of the ALL the christians in order to get elected. I hope McCory runs again, but if a better candidate runs against him, that candidate will get my vote, gender and race aside. I believe that was the case in this election despite what the losers believe.

  • FoxtrotUniformCharlieKiloakaCALM Aug 28, 10:47 a.m.

    Yes the Obama administration took advantage of all the new voters(and i dont just mean young people, but those who were in there 80s and just voting bc it was a black man) and there ignorance towards voting and got all those straight ticket votes

  • Keepin_it_real_in_NC Aug 28, 9:56 a.m.

    It is amazing how many voters now have "buyers remorse" since last November. They are learning that voting for someone only because of race or sex, just because it will "be historic," does not play out well in how these people will lead.

    Here is your hope and change baby.

  • hpu92 Aug 27, 11:28 a.m.

    GOT 2 votes from my family!
    Since Bev is a one "termer," hopefully you can help fix this mess BEVERLY is making if you do run!!!

  • ToTheBeach Aug 26, 11:32 a.m.

    I don't understand why the voting for a Govenor can be "straight party ticket voting" and people don't have to vote separately like they have to for President. I think it is too important to a state to let a Govenor ride in on the coattails of any party. Maybe straight party voting is okay for others, but not for President and Governor elections.

    I voted for Pat before - and I'll do it again. This state needs a change! Too bad we have to wait over three years!! I think the next elections will be much different.

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