Ask Anything: 10 questions with Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory
Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory answers your questions about his political future, his thoughts about Gov. Perdue and more.Posted — Updated
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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