Local Politics

Perdue set to make history as N.C.'s first female governor

Posted January 10, 2009 6:00 a.m. EST
Updated March 9, 2009 5:12 p.m. EDT

— When Beverly Perdue takes the oath of office Saturday morning as North Carolina's 73rd governor, she will become the state's first female chief executive.

Having shattered every glass ceiling placed over her head during 20 years as a legislator and eight years as lieutenant governor, Perdue already is well aware of her place in history and what her inauguration means to all North Carolinians.

"I've always believed, in North Carolina, we elect our leaders because of the belief our voters have in them doing a good job, not because they are Democrat or Republican or men or women," she said.

Perdue is aware of the symbolism of her inauguration day, but she said she doesn't want to get caught up in it.

"I am committed ... and will say this in the speech to not have this historical moment become only symbolic," she said, noting that she wrote most of her inaugural address herself.

The weather will give Perdue a bright start to her governership.

"It does look like it'll be pretty nice out there through the morning hours. We'll see mostly sunny skies and warming temperatures," WRAL Meteorologist Mike Moss said. "At inauguration time, around 10 a.m., we'll probably be in the mid or upper 40s."

After the festivities conclude this weekend, Perdue will face a growing budget deficit – from $1 billion this year to as much as $3 billion next year – record unemployment levels and management problems in the departments of Health and Human Services, Correction and Transportation.

Still, she said she's eager to get started on addressing the problems.

"I'm going to live up to the privilege that the voters of North Carolina have given me," she said. "I'm going to try and be the best governor – I tell (former Gov.) Jim Hunt that – that North Carolina's ever seen. That's my goal."

Part of being the best includes the constant reminder of her accomplishment not only as a politician, but as a woman, she said.

"We are halfway there, but we have so far to go," she said. "If I can get there in North Carolina, if an African-American can be sworn in as president, this country has turned a major, big, heavy chapter in our history, in our focus as a people."