The Republican takeover of the N.C. legislature, the first time the GOP has led both houses since 1898, is a huge shift in power that's brought a lot of new faces, and people new to doing business on Jones Street. In what we hope is a regular feature this session, N.C. Policy Watch will try to talk with some of the newest members to offer a bit more insight on who they are and what they plan on doing this session in Raleigh. This will be an ongoing feature, with the goal of profiling all the new members. Haven't been contacted for your profile yet? New legislators can contact reporter Sarah Ovaska at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Name: Rep. Bill Cook (Republican)
Hometown: Chocowinity (represents Pitt, Beaufort counties). Moved from Washington, D.C. in 2003.
Family: Wife Holly (watercolor artist); children Kerri and Billy and two granddaughters.
Occupation: retired management for Potomac Electric Power Company
Education: University of Maryland
Previous political experience: No.
Campaign website: www.cookinthehouse.com
Civic organizations: First Baptist of Washington, Down East Republican Club, Beaufort County Republican Party, Cypress Landing Tennis Committee, commissioner for Mid-East Regional Housing Authority.
Biggest political influencers: Ronald Reagan and Jesse Helms
Hobbies: playing tennis, reading, gardening (Cook is a master gardener), target shooting, cooking, walks with his wife and their golden retriever, Beau.
How you plan on unwinding from the legislative grind? "Hopefully I'll be able to play some tennis from time to time. I need exercise. Maybe I'll get out and walk once I get to Raleigh."
Any pet peeves? "A pet peeve about government is how government starts out with an idea, and this is particularly true of our liberal friends, that on the face of it looks good. But nobody bothers to look at the unintended consequences."
Why'd you run? "I got just aggravated to no end with the stupidity I saw happening in our country politically, both nationally and in the state. My wife got tired of my yelling at the TV and said you need to do something about it. I have a strong desire to right some of the wrongs that I see, I'm a very conservative guy and I think we bring some common sense and conservative principles maybe we can get out of some of the big holes the liberals have dug."
What do you expect from the session? "There's a new sheriff in town, we're going to do some big stuff. First thing we need to do is balance that budget, $3. 7 billion. It's going to get ugly. Reduce taxes, reduce spending. We need to get the education freed up from the folks that want to control education rather than educate. And we'll be doing redistricting."
What are you looking forward to addressing this session? "I'm strong on freedom, I want people to be free from big taxes, free from intrusive government and free to run their lives as they feel fit without government interference. I want this state to take off like a rocket economically.
Around us, all the other states have lower taxes, we can do it too."
What (policy-wise) keeps you up at night? "Sometimes I worry, can we do it? Politicians, from what I see of it and I'm a novice at it, can be a fickle thing. The Republicans got in this time around on a wave of discontent. Maybe we'll be run out before we can things righted. And if we don't get things right this time in the state and country, I don't have a lot of hope for the future."
Contact: Room 1303 Legislative Building, 919-733-5906, Bill.Cook@ncleg.net