Democrat Roy Cooper takes state’s top office

Watson Harvey, Staff writer

Although the Nov. 8 gubernatorial election pointed to a win for Democrat Roy Cooper, it wasn’t until a month later that his win became official.

While democrats celebrated the election of Cooper as the 75th governor of North Carolina, previous governor Pat McCrory and his supporters were quick to fight the results, demanding recounts across the state.

McCrory conceded to Cooper Monday, Dec. 5, releasing a video announcement promising a smooth and swift transition of power. The day following McCrory’s announcement, Cooper held a victory rally at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. North Carolina’s new attorney general, Josh Stein, also spoke. The feel in the room was cheery and positive, and Cooper spoke of the hard work to come in the next four years.

Minutes after the clock struck on midnight on Jan. 1, Cooper took the oath of office and plans were made to for a bigger inaugural celebration later in the month. Some have been curious about Cooper’s desire to get into office so quickly, but a spokesperson for the Cooper Transition Team stated that Cooper was “just eager to get to work.”

There is a lot of work ahead for Cooper and his team, work made especially difficult by the fact that the majority of North Carolina’s government is under Republican control.

With the passage of highly controversial House Bill Two (HB2) last March and McCrory’s decision to stand by it, North Carolina lost millions in consumer and corporate dollars. The NCAA even pulled seven championships and the 2017 All-Star game from the state following the bill. Cooper is promising to get this money back, and then some. Plans to persuade some large business contenders to set up shop in the state and higher taxes for richer citizens have been rumored. Most importantly, Cooper is trying to repair North Carolina’s damaged reputation.

Apart from planning significant gains for NC’s economy, Cooper has high hopes for North Carolina’s education; promising that it will lead the nation in educational reform by the end of his term. Cooper stated that he believes in “the limitless power of education” and prioritizes education over all else. Educators can also rejoice, because Cooper wants to give “more pay and respect to teachers,” pay that is well deserved considering that North Carolina is 41st in the nation in teacher’s salaries.

On energy and climate issues, Cooper takes great pride in North Carolina’s initiatives and leadership in renewable energy in the US. “A strong economy and a healthy environment go hand-in-hand,” Cooper said while discussing energy companies in N.C. and steps they’ve taken to reduce fossil fuel emissions and pursue Earth-friendly energy.

Cooper’s two-year budget, released March 1, received bipartisan support when it was announced that he had no plans to add or raise taxes and fees. Some are wary of the $1.1 billion budget increase (more than 5 percent), but many are excited about seeing that money go into expanding Medicaid and raising the wages of state employees, specifically teachers. The main focus of Cooper’s proposal is to make NC a leader in education by 2025. He hopes to skyrocket the percentage of N.C. adults with higher education degrees from 38 percent to 55 percent, also.

While these are just some of Cooper’s plans, there are many more still being put into action. Although Cooper and his team are working hard to improve North Carolina for all people, they have their fair share of resistance in almost all other state offices. Republican Senator Richard Burr took the Senate and the Democratic:Republican ratio is 3:10 in the House, providing Cooper with an uphill battle for the next four years.