RALEIGH, N.C. — Republican Gov.-elect Pat McCrory announced on Thursday the first three of many appointments he will be making as his team transitions into his new administration as North Carolina’s next governor. McCrory, a 14-year mayor of Charlotte, will take office on Jan. 5. He’ll bring supporter and transition team leader Thomas Stith on as his chief of staff.
McCrory praised Stith’s accomplishments in his appointment announcement on Thursday. He also extolled Stith’s family background.
“His father was involved in a 1957 sit-in effort to integrate the Royal Ice Cream Parlor three years before the more famous sit-in in Greensboro,” McCrory said.
Stith also recalled his family’s history, pausing briefly halfway through his emotional statement.
“The Stith family came to this state as slaves on the Coolmore Plantation in Tarboro,” Stith said. “Each generation has built upon the dream of prosperity and economic independence. I don’t take that legacy lightly and will work to ensure North Carolina is a place of prosperity for all of our citizens.”
Stith also promised that he would work in a “collaborative manner” to achieve McCrory’s goal that state government focus more on a “culture of customer service.”
Stith is a former Durham City Council member, serving from 1999 through 2007. He unsuccessfully ran for mayor in 2007. The Republican is also a co-founder of and a former vice president at the right-leaning John W. Pope Civitas Institute.
In 2003, Stith was one of three Durham City Council members who voted against extending domestic partner benefits to same-sex partners of city employees.
McCrory also appointed Greensboro’s Dr. Aldona Wos, a former U.S. ambassador to Estonia, to lead the state’s Department of Health and Human Services. He praised Wos’ past accomplishments, including her work as a doctor in New York City during the 1980s AIDS Crisis.
“She was in the middle of the AIDS epidemic…where people were dying throughout the country including friends and colleagues of Aldona’s and no one knew what to do,” McCrory said. “She worked specifically in that community to help those people who were inflicted with AIDS in New York City.”
Wos said she will seek to work in “the best interest of all North Carolinians.” She also said she understands her unique role at the department, where decisions made there “touches everyone’s life,” she said. “We are all affected by every decision that is made in that department.”
Several HIV/AIDS prevention efforts were implemented in Estonia during Wos’ tenure as ambassador there.
Wos, who was born in Poland, is the daughter of a Holocaust survivor. In June, the North Carolina House of Representatives appointed Wos to a position on the University of North Carolina System’s board of governors. Wos is a major funder of Republican causes.
John Skvarla, a Raleigh businessman, will lead the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
McCrory hopes to have his top appointments in place by the time the state legislature convenes on Jan. 9.