Raleigh, NC -- North Carolinians got a look at some of the priorities of Gov.-Elect Pat McCrory's administration Thursday when he made his first three high-profile appointments.
At a news conference, he named Thomas Stith his chief of staff and appointed two people to his Cabinet: John Skvarla will be the Secretary of the Environmental and Natural Resources and Dr. Aldona Wos will be Secretary of Health and Human Services.
By choosing these department heads first, it sends a signal that their roles will be particularly important.
Stith is a former Durham city councilman and heads a research group at UNC-CH's business school.
Skvarla is the CEO of a Raleigh-based environmental restoration company. One of his top challenges will be managing North Carolina's pursuit of new energy sources, which could include offshore exploration.
Dr. Wos lives in Greensboro. She's also a former US Ambassador to Estonia.
McCrory says all three picks will be crucial in building the state's future.
"My top priority as governor is to ensure that we have the framework in place that will unleash our state's incredible resources to create jobs, grow our economy and ensure that North Carolina exceeds its potential," he said.
Wos will have a tough assignment, McCrory added.
"She has so many opportunities throughout the United States ... and frankly throughout the world," he said. "She can do anything she wants and she's picking this responsibility. [It's] probably one of the most difficult in North Carolina."
The challenge is part of why Wos took the job.
"Life is so short and it needs to be meaningful," she said. "One really needs to leave an impact. My home is North Carolina and that is the reason that I have accepted [this role]."
On Wos' plate: she'll have to lead North Carolina through the adoption of the Affordable Healthcare Act, a possible expansion of Medicaid, the ongoing challenge of reforming mental health care and even some IT problems within the Department of Health and Human Services.
McCrory will be the state's first Republican governor for 20 years. He hopes to make his other six Cabinet picks before he's sworn in next month.
All the Cabinet appointments are automatic, so there's no legislative approval required.
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