North Carolina Government & Politics

By Jack D. Fleer | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FIVE
People and Politics
in the Executive Branch

When James B. Hunt, Jr., was inaugurated in January 1993 for an unprecedented third term as governor of North Carolina, he occupied the offices provided in the historic state capitol building in central Raleigh. He assumed the responsibilities of the office, including the roles of chief executive, chief legislator, and head of state. He became a focal point and a key figure in the state government. But as he was quick to acknowledge, he was only one major participant in a vast organization.

Hunt's office suite in the southwest corner of the capitol is a small but important component of an executive apparatus that ranges far across the capital city and the state. From his vantage point, Hunt sees himself surrounded by much larger edifices—to the southeast the offices of the State Department of Transportation, which operates the $1.4 billion highway program, and to the north the offices of the State Department of Public Instruction, which administers the $3.8 billion system of public education. Beyond these departments, which constitute two of the largest public programs in the state, are numerous other buildings where executive units are located: Labor, Agriculture, and Revenue. Literally surrounding the governor's mansion on North Blount Street are the Department of Archives and History, the Governor's Highway Safety Program, and offices of private state associations, such as the Medical Society and the Coalition for Choice.

Just two blocks away, adjacent to the building of the Department of Administration on Jones Street, where the governor has another office, are the state legislative buildings, the site of the North Carolina General Assembly and the offices of the 170 state legislators. The governor, though often referred to as the "chief legislator," shares the lawmaking powers with this increasingly assertive institution.

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