A dispatch from Clayton News-Star's Amanda James: Wearing a Carhartt jacket and hiking shoes, Gov. Pat McCrory ate Tuesday at Jones' Lunch, a historic diner in downtown Clayton. "I need a hot dog, a red hot dog," McCrory shouted as he walked into the 54-year-old restaurant.
The visit to Clayton was the first visit to a "Main Street," after McCrory's State of the State address Monday night when he told North Carolinians that he wanted to help revitalize small towns across the state.
The governor said the reason he visited Clayton is because he told his scheduler on Monday that he wanted to visit a Main Street the next day. The scheduler chose her hometown for the visit. "You've got to hear from people outside the bubble," said McCrory. "You kind of lose sense of reality in the bubble," referring to the political zone in Raleigh. "I'm living in a big house now," said McCrory. "There's no reality in that house."
While eating crinkled fries, McCrory stood at a table in Jones' and took questions from the people in attendance, a crowd of about 75 people. Councilman Art Holder asked the governor how he planned to get programs started for people to get back to work. McCrory responded that one of his plans is to "export more of the products from this area overseas including to Asia, India, and South America." He said that he plans to work a lot with the agricultural community.
Holder followed up with his question saying that "we still need to create jobs that graduates can have." McCrory said he spent much of his five weeks in office so far meeting with companies, and has found that many employers are hiring. He did not name any of the companies that were hiring.
Rep. Leo Daughtry, a Smithfield Republican, attended Jones' lunch and encouraged McCrory to implement his tax reforms. "One of the things you've been talking about for a while is tax reform," said Daughtry. "That's gonna be hard for you to get done because you're going to step on a lot of people's feet."
McCrory said, "I agree completely."
Mayor Jody McLeod asked Governor McCrory to talk more about his plan for Main Streets across the state.
"Mayor to Mayor, the health of Main Street shows the health of your whole community," said McCrory. He said when a Main Street has boarded up businesses, it shows the economic decline in that area. The governor did not detail his plan for how to fix up struggling Main Streets.
When asked his plan for how to help communities like Clayton, specifically, the governor said his policies on infrastructure, tax, and streamlining the government will all help the community in Clayton. "Those impact Clayton and many other areas like it across North Carolina," said McCrory. "I come from local government."
McCrory said he keeps hearing from the media that "I haven't addressed specifics and I have."
McCrory's press secretary Crystal Feldman said they have not chosen the next Main Street for McCrory to visit.
Burr Jones and his father Curtis Jones, owner of Jones' since 1958, said they are supporters of McCrory. Though the restaurant normally closes at 2 p.m., it stayed open until 5 p.m. for the governor's visit. They said the only other famous politician to visit the restaurant in its history was Elizabeth Dole.