Gov. Cooper talks Amazon, Silent Sam in year-end interview with ABC11

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Now halfway through his first term, Gov. Roy Cooper is vowing to promote "compromise" and "forward-thinking" once Republicans lose their veto-proof majorities next year.

"North Carolinians at their heart want balance, want consensus," Cooper said in a one-on-one interview with ABC11's Political and Investigative Reporter Jonah Kaplan.

Cooper moved into the Executive Mansion after a nail-biting end to the 2016 campaign, barely beating incumbent Gov. Pat McCrory. Despite facing an uphill battle at the General Assembly on Jones Street, Cooper said his appeal to Main Street has been instrumental in helping repeal HB2 and pass sweeping economic incentives to attract big businesses like Honeywell and Advance Auto Parts.

Cooper said that moving forward, he wants to bring more manufacturing jobs to rural parts of the state.

"We always talk about the challenges of rural North Carolina. Having grown up there - I know about the opportunities. Lower cost of living, more space, and quality people who understand how to work and to get there on time."

Still, North Carolina lost out on Amazon and Apple - two big tech giants that ultimately decided to seek talent elsewhere.

"The Amazon project really never was a competition in my opinion," Cooper said. "I think that was all a public display and they figured out what they were going to do. We are in the game for the biggest, best companies in the world now. We would not have been if we had not repealed House Bill 2, if we had not put in play economic incentives."

Cooper, however, said he does worry about the perception of North Carolina when it comes to Confederate monuments.

"It's an issue we need to deal with, get it fixed and move on," Cooper said, and he added that he would immediately sign a bill that enables local governments decide what to do with their Confederate statues. "There's a lot of things you can do to explain the full history behind them, honor everyone but abhor racism and the other things. We want to show the world that North Carolina is tolerant, we value diversity and we want all people here to make us successful."

The General Assembly will begin its Long Session on Jan. 9, and for the first time Cooper will be able to have a say on the budget, which last year exceeded $23 billion.

"I think it's important that we get a strong, forward-thinking budget," Cooper said. "That we don't have continued corporate tax cuts and tax cuts for the wealthiest among us. That instead we invest in education, better teacher pay. I want us to expand health-care coverage."

Despite this being his first term, Cooper would not explicitly commit to running for re-election.

"We have so much potential here and I'm very excited about doing this job. It's been the honor and privilege of my life."
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