Gov. Pat McCrory says Patrick Cannon scandal could take years to recover from

Gov. Pat McCrory
Gov. Pat McCrory 2013 News & Observer file photo

Gov. Pat McCrory on Wednesday said the scandal involving former Mayor Patrick Cannon created a wound that might take years for the city and state to fully recover from.

McCrory, who spoke during an event for commercial real estate officials held at Carmel Country Club, said he plans to meet Thursday with Dan Clodfelter, who was sworn in Wednesday as Charlotte mayor after he resigned as state senator. The City Council appointed Clodfelter to replace Cannon, who resigned two weeks ago following his arrest on federal corruption charges.

McCrory, who served seven terms as Charlotte mayor, said he plans to discuss a range of topics with Clodfelter, from McCrory’s experiences as mayor to economic development projects in the works for the Charlotte region. McCrory said discussions could turn to the future of Charlotte Douglas International Airport, which the city is fighting to keep control of.

McCrory, who said he has known Cannon since Cannon was 13, called the corruption charges a “personal affront.” McCrory said the state will have to go through “several stages” to move past the scandal.

“One stage (that) is still there is anger and disappointment. ... We’ve got to recognize that and let that work out,” he said.

“There’s a trust issue that’s going to have to be recovered with the people of Charlotte and the people of North Carolina and even some in the nation, and we’re going to have to recognize that. It doesn’t recover quickly, and you cannot pretend it didn’t happen.”

One question McCrory said the Cannon scandal raises: “Why did it happen, and were there any processes in place or culture in place which has come to this great city during the last several years which made it happen, and therefore do we make any adjustments to make sure that culture no longer comes here?”

A re-pivot on airport

McCrory has said he thinks the city should retain control and ownership of the airport. A bill passed by the General Assembly paved the way for an independent commission to run the airport, but an injunction bars the 13-member body from operating it. The city continues to run the airport.

Cannon and McCrory had been working on a compromise over the airport before Cannon’s arrest. McCrory declined on Wednesday to discuss what path any compromise plans might take.

“I’ve been having discussions with Charlotte leaders on the airport since December with the former mayor and with others,” McCrory said. “We’re going to have to maybe restart and re-pivot, but it’s something that I want to get resolved.”

Clodfelter, a Democrat who resigned from the General Assembly on Tuesday, was opposed to Republican lawmakers who sought to transfer control of the airport to an independent commission. The legislature last year gave final approval to the bill creating the commission.

McCrory said Wednesday that he is looking forward to working with Clodfelter.

“We served on the (Charlotte) City Council together in 1989,” McCrory said.

“Who would have known many years later that we’d be working together as mayor and governor together?”