Greensboro, NC -- North Carolina's new leader, Gov. Pat McCrory, didn't pull any punches when he talked to a big crowd -- and WFMY News 2 -- at the Empire Room in Greensboro on Tuesday morning.
"I don't believe there are quick fixes to anything," Gov. McCrory, North Carolina's first Republican chief executive in 20 years, said. "This problem that North Carolina has got itself into -- I mean the fifth-highest unemployment rate [in the country] -- has been a gradual breakdown of the functions of state government."
In his first week in office, Gov. McCrory is touring the state, shaking hands, sharing hugs and hearing exactly what's on people's minds when it comes to fixing state government.
The stop in Greensboro was his first trip home to Guilford County since being sworn in on Saturday. He grew up in Jamestown.
And while he got a warm welcome back from those people at the Empire Room, some critics who lean left have questioned his Cabinet picks.
"This is a team that I've worked with in the past," McCrory said of his Cabinet. "A team of people who understand economic development. A team of people who understand how to read a budget. A team of people who understand the state."
But some critics say the former Charlotte mayor, who's known for moderation, has top advisers who teeter too far right -- and that choosing former Duke Energy colleagues for his inner circle might mean breaks for big business.
"I worked for Duke Power the whole time I was mayor of Charlotte -- for 14 years," he said. "And no one ever even assumed that would happen and it never did."
He says it won't now, either. And when it comes to the balance of his choices, the governor points out four of his Cabinet members are Republicans. The other four aren't.
"We worked on some committees together," former Greensboro mayor and current mayor pro tem Yvonne Johnson said. "We worked well together [as mayors]. The whole issue of partisanship didn't come up."
Johnson is a Democrat who was among the crowd that cheered McCrory Tuesday morning. She says he has a history of reaching across the aisle -- and she has no doubts he'll do the same in Raleigh.
"The only way to address and to solve some of the situations that we have is to work across the lines and put partisanship aside and put issues and people first," Johnson said. "I have no doubt he will."
McCrory says the critics now are banging the same untruthful drums they did during the campaign.
"The people who elected me by a pretty large majority knew of my background," he said. "And I'm proud of my business experience, and I'm proud of my leadership experience. And those two things together will make me a more-effective governor."
McCrory told the Empire Room crowd that he'll be governor in the same bipartisan way he was mayor. He also said his top priorities are upgrading the state's IT system, connecting people with jobs and paying off North Carolina's debt to the federal government.
WFMY News 2