More than 100 of the state's lawmakers are serving their first or second terms and on Wednesday the legislative building vibrated with newcomers and their camera-toting relatives in a scene reminiscent of the first day of school. In the notoriously maze-like compound on Jones Street, they scrambled to find their offices and meeting rooms and get to the chambers on time.
“My best friends are the sergeants at arms,” said Sen. Tamara Barringer, a Republican from Cary. “So far I have a desk, I have a legislative assistant and a wonderful intern. So I’m set to go.”
“My office slash closet?,” said a wry Rep. Duane Hall, a Democrat from Raleigh. “I’m very happy to be there. I’m excited to be there.”
Hall ran unopposed in a new district after an unsuccessful bid 16 years ago. He credits early advance work to his success this time. “How much we’ll be able to do, I’m not sure. But the other side seems to be willing to work with us. They’ve all extended a hand and been very gracious and nice to me.”
Sen. Mike Woodard, a Democrat from Durham, said he had a hard time finding the Democratic caucus room. But he echoed Hall’s hope for bipartisanship. “We have lots of formidable tasks,” he said. “I’m looking forward to how we can work together.”
Sen. Chad Barefoot, a Republican from Wake Forest, used to work in the House majority leader’s office. So he, for one, knows his way around the building.
“It’s neat to be on this side of the aisle,” he said. “It’s exciting. It feels historic.”