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'We are more connected than we ever imagined': Cooper calls for unity in inaugural address

Posted January 9, 2021 10:00 a.m. EST
Updated January 9, 2021 6:40 p.m. EST

— Roy Cooper got a scaled-back inauguration ceremony to start his second term as North Carolina's governor. On Saturday, the ongoing pandemic meant, again, Cooper saw no crowd of supporters, no parade and no public parties.

Cooper saw his first inaugural shifted indoors and scaled down by a snowstorm in 2017.

Saturday's events featured recorded musical performances, including one from Australia by Ben Folds, and the administration of the oaths for Cooper and members of the Council of State on the grounds of the Executive Mansion, followed by Cooper’s pre-recorded inaugural address.

In his speech, Cooper cited accomplishments in job creation and efforts to improve health care access and public schools across the state. He praised the response to the coronavirus pandemic as well.

"Our state deserves a collective pat on the back," he said.

"When the pandemic forced classrooms to close in March, schools and volunteers made sure our kids got fed at home. When weary health care workers needed a boost, communities sent meals and care packages. When personal protective equipment ran short, North Carolina manufacturing companies pivoted to produce face shields, gowns, masks and more."

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler didn't attend due to virus-related concerns. Footage of Troxler taking his oath earlier was aired.

First-time council members — Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, Labor Commissioner Josh Dobson and Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt — all already sworn in, took oaths again and in person at the event on Saturday.

The event wasn't open to the public.

North Carolina: Strong, resilient, ready

Cooper cited the state's history of recovery after the Spanish flu pandemic 100 years ago in his theme for the day: North Carolina: Strong, Resilient, Ready.

"Now, a century later, that cycle of challenge-and-response confronts North Carolina again," he said.

"We are living it. We can see it, and we can solve it. ... The challenge of emerging from this pandemic smarter and stronger than ever.

"As we enter 2021, we carry the imprint of our people’s frustration and loss as well as our determination and resilience. I hold close the memories of the suffering and the heroic North Carolinians," Cooper said.

He called for unity and integrity.

"We are all North Carolinians," Cooper said. "These times of triumph and trial have shown us that we are more connected than we ever imagined."

Coronavirus trumps policy in Cooper's first term

Cooper's first term was marked by tension between public safety and supporting the economy as he attempted to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus when the pandemic arrived in March 2020.

Before the pandemic claimed much of Cooper's focus in the final year of his first term, the governor had at least mixed success in delivering on campaign promises, as tracked in the WRAL News Gov. Roy Cooper campaign promise tracker.

The @NCCapitol team graded him in 31 areas based on promised made in 2016, finding he accomplished or made progress toward about half of the goals he set out during that campaign. For most of the rest, he worked toward the goal, in WRAL’s judgment, but was blocked by the General Assembly or by circumstance.

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