Gov. Beverly Perdue's inaugural address focused on the economy.
Speaking to thousands of assembled North Carolinans in front of the state archives on Jones Street, Perdue said that the state is "in the midst of a global economic crisis."
"People are actually worried about losing their jobs, about paying their mortgage, about their own personal future," she said.
She pledged to rebuild the state's economy, citing the creation of UNC-Chapel Hill, Research Triangle Park and a Kannapolis biotech center as precedents. She also earned a laugh by citing an unlikely economic development engine.
"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.
Perdue ended by echoing words she had once used to criticize former Gov. Mike Easley.
"I pledge to be a fully-engaged, hands-on governor," she said. "The people's problems will be solved when we listen to them."
After the jump, the speech as delivered.
Gov. Beverly Perdue's inaugural address
Jan. 10, 2009
Welcome to all of you.
It's a privilege to be here today.
With gratitude we salute my predecessor, Gov. Mike Easley, for his years of public service to the people of North Carolina.
I want to thank so many of you. Especially my husband, North Carolina's very first "First Gentleman," Mr. Bob Eaves. And, my two sons Emmett and Garrett who have been part of this journey every day since I first entered public service.
To all the family and friends and colleagues who are gathered here for this celebration, I say simply there is nothing finer than to be in North Carolina.
Today a new administration begins, one that's actually different from any other. My presence before you represents a departure from our past.
It is a new beginning.
Today, I pledge to you that this new beginning is much more than symbolic. I accept this oath of office to serve as North Carolina's 73rd governor with complete resolve to meet the challenges before us — directly and forcefully.
With a profound sense of duty, I intend to do everything in my power to provide opportunity to all who live here from Murphy to Manteo.
You know, North Carolina has sometimes been slow to answer history's call. For too long, too many of us were held back by poverty, by discrimination and by the lack of an education. Our ability to confront these challenges is what has enabled us to continue to move ahead.
More than two hundred years ago, North Carolina widened the doors of opportunity by establishing the state's first ... this nation's very first state-supported school — the University of North Carolina.
Big thinkers staked our claim as a leader in research and learning, discovery at the Research Triangle Park, and still today the North Carolina is home to that park, the largest research park anywhere in the world.
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.
Our history books tell story after story of bold acts of leadership that brought hope and progress to our people.
Now it's time for us in the Old North State to confront new challenges. We are in the midst of a global economic crisis. People are actually worried about losing their jobs, about paying their mortgage, about their own personal futures.
Now is not the time for us to hunker down. We cannot "just" cut back. And, I will not lower my expectations for you or for the people of North Carolina.
I feel the urgency and I know that you do, too. What we will do is to accept this time of challenge as an opportunity to think big, to dig deep, and to push ahead. What we do in the next four years will literally define our future.
You have a governor who will speak candidly and who will act boldly.
I'll focus on building on our core strengths and building up new strengths.
That's what we do in North Carolina. No other state can claim to have turned the practice of hauling moonshine into the high-tech, fast-growth engine, known as — NASCAR.
It took grit and toughness to establish prosperous industries in agriculture and manufacturing but we did that. With innovation we will take those same economies and create new ones in the life sciences and defense and, yes, in green technology.
We'll remain true to our commitment to education. Let me say that one more time because that is my most important role I will have as governor. We will remain true to our commitment to education. We will retrain our displaced workers and we're going to educate our people for 21st century jobs. No child in North Carolina has permission to drop out of school. No child. We all benefit when learning is seamless from the high chair to the rocking chair.
In this time of tremendous economic crisis the people of North Carolina need and deserve a state government that works for them, not against them. We must take an old, outdated 20th century bureaucracy and bring it into the 21st century. It's time for government to invest more wisely and to run more efficiently.
Government must be, must be more accountable to the people. The state's business must be conducted in sunshine that will inspire confidence, not cynicism.
I pledge to you to be a fully-engaged, hands-on governor. The people's problems will be solved when we listen to them. Really listen to their hopes and their needs and their aspirations.
Now, I can't do this alone. Let's all raise our expectations. You each and every one have a right to have really high expectations from me. And, I, my friends, have high expectations of you.
I call on each of you to engage as citizens. We will accomplish so much more working together, rural and urban, young and old, brother and sisters. And in these tough times your neighbors really, literally may need you, so reach out to them.
As we begin anew, we do so with confidence because, after all, this is North Carolina. Here, in this great state, anything is possible.
This is the place where in 1775, fearless patriots from Mecklenburg County were the very first colonists to declare their independence.
This is the place where the men and women of our armed forces time after time have proudly stepped forward to answer the call to defend our freedoms.
This is the place where the daughter of generous and loving parents who didn't graduate from high school can stand before you today and take the oath of office as governor of the greatest state in the greatest nation in the world. This is North Carolina.
It's a privilege and honor to serve you. I want you to know genuinely as we embark on this new beginning that I believe in the fundamental promise of America. In this great country there are no limits to be anything or to do anything. With hard work, education and faith, anything really is possible in this country and in this state.
Even in these trying times, the American Dream is alive. It lives in the hard work, in the sheer determination and the sacrifice of our people. Together, together, we can race boldly into our future.
God bless you and God bless North Carolina.