At Inauguration, Cooper Calls To Strive for Shared Goals
RALEIGH: The front yard of the Executive Mansion was transformed into an outdoor sound stage for the ceremony. On the dais sat two podiums and several U.S. and North Carolina flags. The state seal was affixed to the front of the dais, with patriotic bunting draped around the edges. A University of North Carolina Television truck also sat on the site.
Streets around the mansion were blocked off to traffic by police cruisers or portable vehicle barriers. There also was a strong presence of officers at the old 1840 Capitol building nearby. The state Highway Patrol brought council members and their families to the mansion in a caravan of vehicles.
Small camera towers were erected just inside the front gate and in line with the dais for camera operators to record Gov. Roy Cooper and eight other Council of State members being sworn in by Chief Justice Paul Newby. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler didn't participate in person on Saturday, citing coronavirus concerns.
In prerecorded entertainment, Durham-based jazz singer Nnenna Freelon sang the national anthem, while the Steep Canyon Rangers played "Honey on My Tongue." The Charlotte-based duo Cafe Amaretto, which emphasizes Latin American music, also performed.
Singer-songwriter Ben Folds, a Winston-Salem native now living in Australia, said in his video message that he wished he could have performed in person.
"Gov. Cooper, congratulations on still being Gov. Cooper. We need you. Thank you," Folds said before playing his song, "Landed."
Newby said during the ceremony that traditionally more justices would participate in administering oaths, but that he alone would initiate them Saturday, in keeping with COVID safety.
The nine oaths were conducted without a hitch. Newby mistakenly referred to the "agriculture commissioner" as Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey prepared to take the first oath of the ceremony. Causey corrected him, and Newby apologized.
Cooper and first lady Kristin Cooper stood together as Newby administered the gubernatorial oath, with the governor giving an emphatic "I will, so help me God" at its close. The Coopers' adult daughters, who participated in 2017 festivities, were not on the dais Saturday.
With much of the ceremony prerecorded, small groups composed of a council member and their guests waited in a queue on the mansion's grounds, awaiting their turn to take the dais.
Each council member was limited to seven guests. All participants wore face coverings, in keeping with Cooper's executive order. State Auditor Beth Wood stood out, wearing goggles and a face shield embossed with the letter "B" in cursive.
The sworn-in council members later signed a "book of oaths."
Several religious leaders offered prayers during the ceremony, including the benediction by the Rev. Christopher Edmonston, pastor at White Memorial Presbyterian Church in Raleigh, where Cooper attends. The ceremony finished at 10:50 a.m., 10 minutes earlier than scheduled.
Governor Roy Cooper today commented after a state Court of Appeals ruling in the M.E. v T.J. case that concerns whether individuals in a same-sex relationship can use Domestic Violence Protection Orders under state law to protect themselves from abusive partners.