Local Politics

Perdue gets down to business

Posted November 5, 2008 4:40 p.m. EST
Updated November 5, 2008 5:18 p.m. EST

— Hours after celebrating her historic win at the North Carolina polls, Governor-elect Beverly Perdue was shifting her focus Wednesday to taking over a state facing a growing budget deficit and agencies in need of reform.

The first woman to lead North Carolina, Perdue said she would draw on her legislative experience to work with the General Assembly on a budget next year that takes account of lower tax revenue in a sluggish economy. Fiscal analysts have said the budget deficit could grow as large as $2 billion by next year.

"I am not at all intimidated ... by challenges, tough decisions (and) standing up and making tough choices," she said. "I've done that."

A decade ago, she said, she was a chief budget-writer in the state Senate and had to work with former Gov. Jim Hunt to trim $85 million from the budget after Hurricane Floyd devastated much of eastern North Carolina.

Perdue said she knows that having a Democratic-controlled General Assembly doesn't guarantee her agenda will get approved.

"There will be some harsh confrontations ... but I know (the legislative process) from the inside and out," she said. "At the end of the day, you take the battle to the grassroots – to the communities of these folks that elect the General Assembly – if change becomes difficult.

"I am determined we are going to change North Carolina. We are going to transform the way this state does business," Perdue said.

Noting six women are on the Council of State, the body that includes the governor and the nine officials elected statewide, Perdue said she would like to see the state and nation move past an election that also saw the first African-American elected president.

"I'm so hopeful that all those conversations will be put on the back burner and Republicans and Democrats, women and men and racial issues and that we can come together," she said.

After a brutal Democratic primary battle against outgoing State Treasurer Richard Moore and Tuesday's victory over Republican Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory, Perdue said she has no regrets about how she campaigned.

"All of the hard work, all of the challenges – the tough campaigns against two talented opponents – nothing was hard in terms of the end goal," she said. "Once again, we have shown that nobody can lock you out if you try hard to get in."