Raleigh, N.C. — A whopping 33 percent of lawmakers are serving their first term in the state legislature, making it the biggest freshman class in recent memory.
Sixteen of the 50 members of the Senate, and 41 of the 120 House members won office after redistricting crowded out former lawmakers and Republicans built on gains made two years ago.
Rep. Chris Malone, R-Wake, was sworn in Wednesday representing the new 45th House district in north Raleigh. A former member of the Wake County Board of Education said he plans to sit back for a while and learn.
"There's some very weighty issues that we're dealing with, and we have to go out there, we have to do the will of the people, we have to do something good for North Carolina," Malone said. "So, that weighs on your mind, but it's balanced by this great excitement and opportunity. It's an historic moment."
Sen. Mike Woodard, D-Durham, said he's expecting a challenging session, but he's hopeful that the tidal wave of freshman will bring change.
"I hope what we can do is bring some fresh ideas and fresh ways of looking at things," said Woodard, a former Durham City Council member. "I hope we will have the opportunity to ask some of the hard questions and look at how we do business here, and I hope that, where we can, a lot of the newer members will bring a spirit of bipartisanship."
He said he thinks the incoming freshmen will be more likely to be bipartisan thinkers than lawmakers that have been in office a long time. Democrats can only hope so, since Republican numbers in both chambers leave them with very little leverage over the next two years.