With that, Pat McCrory announced Thursday that next year will be his last as Charlotte’s mayor. “In my heart, I’d love to be mayor for life,” he told a news conference, “but in my soul I know it’s time to move on.”
Indeed, McCrory’s zest for the job has been on full display since his first term in 1995. He’s been an active and energetic mayor, and will surely be one of the best-remembered in city history.
Does he have an admirable legacy? In many ways, yes. Most notable is the creation of a countywide mass transit system that debuted a little more than a year ago, with the opening of a light rail line between uptown and Pineville. McCrory has staunchly backed mass transit even when many of his fellow Republicans were just as outspoken in their dislike of the concept, and of the half-cent sales tax that helps fund the system. He has just as staunchly supported the philosophy that "transportation" means autos but much more, including transit, bicycles and sidewalks.
But is it time for him to bow out as mayor? Yes.
That shouldn't be taken as a slam on McCrory, and we hope he'll remain in public life.
But Charlotte needs an infusion of new thinking at the top. Any government does from time to time.
We've criticized him in the past for being too thin-skinned as well as for the occasional nutball remark – such as calling a proposal to pay city workers enough to allow them to pay the rent "socialism." He never took the time to really learn how to lobby successfully in Raleigh. We think he has too often catered to the far right wing of his own party (see previous "socialism" remark) – although many of them would demand to know when he ever catered.
But in sum, the city has thrived under his tenure, and he deserves a full measure of credit for that. We hope he stays in public life. He has contributions yet to make.