I had the opportunity to interview the two candidates for Lieutenant Governor. Clearly both candidates have thought about priorities, goals and how they can use the office for the good of North Carolinians. Because the Lieutenant Governor is elected on a separate ballot from the Governor, it is possible to have a Governor and Lieutenant Governor from different political parties, as was the case from 1985 to 1989. I asked both candidates how they would enact their goals should that be the case and both told me they would find a way to work with the next Governor. I believe them.
The Lieutenant Governor is the only elected official to have powers in both the legislative and executive branches. The office was a part time position until 1970 when it became full time with staff. But in 1989, the democratically-controlled legislature gave most responsibilities to the Senate President Pro Tem, a leader elected by the body. That was when a Republican was elected to the office, the first since 1896. Now, the Lt. Governor role in the Senate is one of presiding officer and the ability to vote to break a tie.
The Lieutenant Governor is a member of the Council of State along with other statewide elected offices, and serves on the Board of Community Colleges, State Board of Education, and Capitol Planning Commission. And the Lt. Governor can make appointments to 14 or so Boards and Commissions.
North Carolinians pay for a full time Lieutenant Governor, travel allowance, and a staff for the office. On the eve of an election and two candidates with ideas, it’s time for the General Assembly to revisit the role so our next Lt. Governor has a full time job with full time responsibilities, no matter who is elected.
Jeanne Milliken Bonds is a Consultant, Political Analyst and Co-Owner, LiveWire Politics
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