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:
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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