SALISBURY — From the gala to the inaugural parade, Rowan County will be well represented this weekend as residents travel to Raleigh to usher in N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory’s new administration, which includes several local people.
“I feel like it’s a proud day for North Carolina but also a proud day for Salisbury,” said former Mayor Margaret Kluttz, who will attend the inaugural address Saturday with her husband, George. “We’re very proud of our new governor but even more so for Susan Kluttz and Tony Almeida and others who are part of serving the state.”
McCrory tapped Susan Kluttz, Salisbury’s longest-serving mayor, to lead the Department of Cultural Resources. He appointed Almeida, a retired vice president at Duke Energy, as senior adviser to the governor for jobs and the economy.
Both also worked on McCrory’s transition team, as did Margaret Kluttz and Jake Alexander, who served as advisers for the Department of Transportation transition.
McCrory also appointed Fred Steen of Landis, a former state representative who just left the 76th district seat, as the governor’s legislative liaison.
Alexander and his wife, Susan, will attend a Saturday evening event hosted by the Foundation for North Carolina, a new conservative-leaning organization formed after McCrory defeated former N.C. Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, a Democrat, in the Nov. 6 election.
McCrory, a Republican former mayor of Charlotte who served a record seven terms, replaced Gov. Bev Perdue, a Democrat. The last Republican elected as N.C. governor was Jim Martin, who served from 1985 to 1993.
Alexander said he will attend the inaugural celebration to congratulate McCrory and prepare for “what should be an exciting hopefully eight years.”
Alexander, who worked for Martin, attended both of his inaugurations in 1984 and 1988 and the 1973 inauguration of Gov. Jim Holshouser.
As McCrory takes office, Alexander said he looks forward to how the Catawba College graduate will address the state’s many challenges, including a multi-billion-dollar revenue shortfall in coming years.
“With the change of administration and change of party, there is a real opportunity for Pat to create a new path, a different path,” Alexander said.
The Catawba College marching band and Vernaculars All Stars will perform in Raleigh, and Catawba officials including President Brien Lewis and several Catawba trustees will attend weekend events to honor McCrory.
Dr. Carol Spalding will represent Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, where she serves as president.
Spalding also attended Perdue’s inauguration four years ago.
“It was a great way to get the pulse of the future and hear it from the horse’s mouth,” Spalding said.
While she said she expects the inauguration to be a great party and celebration, Spalding said she also hopes the event will serve as “a healing ceremony for all the disparate voices out there.”
She said she looks forward to celebrating with Kluttz and Almeida and making an impression on McCrory and other state leaders.
“Many community college presidents will attend to be remembered when everybody gets down to business and talks about the economy and job creation,” Spalding said. “We will show the flag of community college presidents.”
For N.C. Rep. Harry Warren, a Republican who represents Rowan County, the weekend has more partisan importance.
“What stays on my mind now that essentially conservatives hold all three branch of government for the first time is that comes with great responsibility to be judicious in how you apply that power,” Warren said.
Republicans must act “not just because they can, but in a sense of fair play and taking all sides and all stakeholders’ views into account,” he said.
Warren will attend tonight’s inaugural ball with his wife Catherine and their daughters, Alexandra and Morgan, ages 15 and 13, who Warren said are old enough to understand the significance of the event.
“This is typically not the kind of thing I will go to or attend, but given the fact that it’s such a historic event and a once-in-a-lifetime event, I’ll go,” he said.
While his daughters had fun choosing ball gowns, Warren joked that he hopes his 18-year-old tuxedo still fits.
Several staff members and volunteers for the N.C. Transportation Museum Foundation will attend inaugural events, and the museum will have two entries in the parade: a 1935 N.C. Highway Patrol car and 1929 AA Ford fire truck. Foundation staff will dress up in period transportation costumes, including an engineer, conductor and pilot.
The foundation raises money for the troubled museum in Spencer. Susan Kluttz now leads the department that oversees state historic sites like the transportation museum.
“It says a lot for the good people here who have made a difference,” Margaret Kluttz said. “I’m proud that our governor has called on them to be part of his team.”
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.
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