Cook takes oath of office

Published 6:54 pm Thursday, January 13, 2011

Staff Write

His voice at times strained by emotion, state Rep.-elect Bill Cook, R-Beaufort, took the oath of office Wednesday evening at the Beaufort County Courthouse in Washington.
The oath was administered by N.C. Appeals Court Judge Ann Marie Calabria.
Cook took the oath with his wife, Holly, at his side, as 55 to 60 friends, supporters and curious onlookers kept watch.
“I know this election was more than just about me,” Cook told the crowd after taking the oath. “I think mostly it was about prosperity, dignity, freedom, trust — and by that I mean the dignity of having a job, being able to hold a job, to be able to obtain a job, keep employment, pride of employment.”
Cook referred indirectly to criminal cases implicating high-profile North Carolina Democrats, though he didn’t identify any by name.
“It’s got to do with trusting the people that are leading your government,” he said. “We’ve seen way too much crime and folks doing the wrong thing who you are your elected leaders.”
He referenced the federal health care-reform law that has sparked nationwide debate, and he seemed to point to GOP proposals to remove a state cap on charter schools.
“We’ve also seen a lack of freedom, freedom to be able to choose your health care, to be able to choose your schools, what kind of schools your children go to, what kind of education your children get,” Cook remarked. “We need more freedom.”
Cook wrapped up his comments by thanking his treasurer, Ken MacMillan, who introduced him prior to the oath-taking.
“He’s the treasurer, and he didn’t steal a dime,” Cook said, evoking laughter from audience members.
Cook also thanked his wife for her support.
“There’s also a lot of other people in this room who gave of their time and their effort and, God love you, I appreciate everything you did,” he concluded. “I couldn’t have done it without you.”
Cook acknowledged being an emotional person, and he teared up two or three times during the ceremony, prompting some of his supporters to cry along with him.
Asked how he felt prior to the ceremony, he said, “Very emotional,” the tears in his eyes indicating his journey into office was a deeply personal one.
Cook was elevated to his District 6 House post in the Nov. 2, 2010, general election, when the GOP swept many state House and Senate races to win a majority in the General Assembly.
When the legislative session begins Jan. 26, Cook will take his place alongside 67 other Republicans in the House. House Democrats number 52.
Two key speakers present for Wednesday’s event were Larry Britt, chairman of the Beaufort County Republican Party, and Ginny Cooper, chairwoman of the Pitt County Republican Party.
Britt injected a little levity into the proceedings by implying Cook should single-handedly tackle the state budget deficit.
“I told Bill after he was elected that he was representing Beaufort County, and we expected him to personally get a handle on this budget thing,” he joked. “We’ll give him until May or June to do that. There’s not going to be any pressure, though.”
Cooper took a spiritual tack.
“One of the things I wanted to share with you this afternoon here is that there were a lot of prayers that went out for godly, principled people to go to Raleigh, and Bill is one of those people,” she said.
Asked for his response to word that his former opponent, state Rep. Arthur Williams, D-Beaufort, is being considered to replace retiring Sen. Marc Basnight, D-Dare, Cook was reticent.
“God bless him,” he remarked. “He’s got some big shoes to fill.”
Cook defeated Williams in a battle for District 6, which covers Beaufort County and northeast Pitt County.
In a separate interview, Calabria said, “This is an unusual year,” adding she already had fulfilled several requests to conduct swearing-in ceremonies across the state.
She said she volunteers her time for these ceremonies upon request, and added this was a way of giving back to supporters who returned her to the Court of Appeals last year.
Among other dignitaries in attendance were state Sen. Louis Pate, R-Wayne, local District Attorney Seth Edwards and newly elected District Court Judge Darrell Cayton Jr.