Perdue lays out goals at inauguration

RALEIGH - An historic inauguration, a lively parade and a show of support for the Democratic party in North Carolina gave a taste of what to expect when President-elect Barack Obama takes the oath of office next week.

Bev Perdue was sworn in as North Carolina's 73rd governor Saturday, making her the first woman to hold the state's highest office. The inaugural ceremonies were held on the balcony of the State Archives building in downtown Raleigh.

"My presence before you represents a departure from our past-it is a new beginning... much more than symbolic," Perdue said in her inaugural address, adding that "North Carolina has sometimes been slow to answer history's call."

Perdue acknowledged the state's past problems with poverty, discrimination and lack of education. But she cited the 1795 opening of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill-the first public university in the country-as an historical example of progress in the state.

Perdue said similar progress is carried out today with the Research Triangle Park. She also noted Kannapolis's new North Carolina Research Campus, of which a portion is sponsored by Duke.

"Prosperity is coming back to the old textile town of Kannapolis with the creation of a world-class bio-tech center that will provide thousands of jobs to our people," she said.

Perdue called overseeing the North Carolina education system the "most important role I will have as governor," and her speech focused heavily on themes of ingenuity and innovation.

"No other state can claim to have turned the practice of hauling moonshine into the high-tech, fast-growth engine known as NASCAR," she said. "This is North Carolina. Here, in this great state, anything is possible."

Perdue mentioned the global economic crisis and other challenges she will face as governor-particularly overcoming recent corruption scandals in the state legislature.

"The state's business must be conducted in sunshine. That will inspire confidence, not cynicism," she said. "Let's all raise our expectations."

The day's ceremonies also featured a 19-gun salute to the new governor and an F-15 fighter jet flyover during the national anthem.

After Perdue completed her speech, actor Andy Griffith took center stage to read a poem written by his wife Cindi Knight and dedicated to the new governor. Griffith, a North Carolina native best-known for his role in "The Andy Griffith Show" and the television series "Matlock," was featured in television advertisements endorsing Perdue during the campaign.

"North Carolina is my home. I no longer have to roam. When I see our morning sun, I know there's work to be done. Gov. Bev Perdue is the person we choose. Because there's so much she can do," he read.

Perdue's inauguration was a reminder of the sweeping Democratic election victories in North Carolina. Newly inaugurated Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) was among those in attendance.

"It's nice to be in a state where people elect Democrats," said sophomore Ben Bergmann, president of Duke Democrats.

Bergmann, who attended the inauguration with several other members of Duke Democrats, said the event was an exciting realization of their work and support for Perdue's campaign.

"We all sort of felt some partial ownership of the victory," he said, adding that the event was a preview for next week's presidential inauguration.

Sophomore Anthony Sanderson, who attended the rally with Duke Democrats, said Perdue's tough election victory over former Republican Charlotte mayor Pat McCrory was boosted by Obama's strong campaign in the Tar Heel state.

"It was a great experience, but definitely much smaller than what is going to happen in a few days," he said.


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