At least 15 incoming legislators and 14 other newly elected North Carolina politicians chose to be sworn in closer to home before taking office.
“We just wanted to have a celebration here,” said Rep.-elect Bert Jones of Rockingham County, who will become the General Assembly’s only unaffiliated member. “Thought it would be a good way to show our appreciation to the people and to make them a part of it.”
The North Carolina chapter of the grass-roots group Americans for Prosperity circulated a list of several politicians being sworn in closer to home. The ceremonies started Jan. 5. The last one is scheduled Jan. 12.
Legislators are allowed to have only three guests on the opening day of the General Assembly. Rep.-elect John Faircloth, R-Guilford, says the local ceremonies will be a good way to get more people involved in state government. He points out that a lot of people have never been to the legislative building.
“They really can’t conceive of what the ceremonies are there on opening day, or what even takes place day to day,” Faircloth said. He’s holding a swearing-in ceremony Jan. 8 at the High Point City Council chambers.
“This gives us an opportunity to have a little ceremony there and do the swearing-in in front of a lot of supporters,” said Rep.-elect Jeff Collins, R-Nash.
Collins echoed the calls other newly elected lawmakers made on the campaign trail. “We’ve got to figure out the unnecessary part [of state spending],” he said. “Cut that out. We’ve got to get our state spending in line. That’s the first and foremost priority.”
The North Carolina Constitution requires, “Each member of the General Assembly, before taking his seat, shall take an oath or affirmation that he will support the Constitution and laws of the United States and the Constitution of the State of North Carolina, and will faithfully discharge his duty as a member of the Senate or House of Representatives.”
State law also allows a wide range of people to administer the oath. Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby will administer the oath to several newly elected legislators, along with Court of Appeals Judge Ann Marie Calabria and Speaker-Elect Thom Tillis.
The 2011 session of the General Assembly opens Jan. 26. Any legislators who haven’t taken the oath of office by that time will take it then.
Anthony Greco is an associate editor of Carolina Journal.