The North Carolina gov has almost won over the Queen City. But there is still work to do
Photo: Governor Perdue's approval ratings may be in the dumps (25 percent as of July), but at least she's paying attention to Charlotte.
Promises, promises. Governor Bev Perdue made a lot of them when she campaigned to be the state's first female governor in 2008. She promised to open an office in the Queen City. She promised to put the brakes on politics in transportation (and do her best to get Charlotte's roads fixed). And promised to give more love to Charlotte when other state lawmakers focused on other North Carolina cities.
It's pretty hard to keep some promises when the economy hasn't been this depressing since, well, the Depression. But in spite of the bruised economy, we still want to know this: has Perdue come through on her promise to pay more attention to Charlotte?
Perdue says the economy has forced her to reprioritize, but she insists that doesn't mean reneging on campaign promises -- at least not all of them. Her Queen City office is small but up and running. Plus she's been to Charlotte more times in her first six months as governor than her predecessor Mike Easley was in the eight years he filled the top office.
"She certainly has lived up to the promise to spend more time in Charlotte, pay more attention to our issues," says Bob Morgan, president of Charlotte's Chamber of Commerce. "She is very engaged in economic development and our transportation issues," he says.
One naysayer on Perdue's consistent visits to Charlotte? Former rival candidate, Pat McCrory. While he acknowledges that Perdue has certainly been in town often, he's quick to add: "[Perdue] coming into town is usually about making a public announcement about jobs, not about being engaged in any real decision making in Raleigh that affects us."
Still, Perdue's efforts have been well received. Matthews Democratic Mayor Lee Myers, a twenty-year veteran of the Mecklenburg Union Metro Planning Organization (MUMPO) -- which essentially decides what roads get repaired when -- says Perdue's choice for secretary of transportation, Gene Conti, is showing a lot of promise. "In twenty years I do not remember a transportation secretary coming to Mecklenburg County," says Myers. "He has been here at least five times already since being appointed, trying to help us with our local transportation issues, and Perdue is the one who appointed him."
Perdue received a huge round of applause earlier this year when she promised to get I-485 done … pronto. Only problem: to keep that promise, local leaders may end up looking like the bad guys when they're forced to push other important road projects aside (i.e., Independence Boulevard) to pay for the 485 connector. And that has them calling her promise to finish 485 an empty one.
In the end, though, it comes down to making good on the promises. "I think what we want to see is more delivery of promises," says Republican state Senator Eddie Goodall of Weddington, who adds that Perdue's approval rating -- 25 percent as of July -- are significantly low for a new governor. "She has a lot of people asking where are the solutions she promised?"