|17th Labor Commissioner of North Carolina|
January 6, 2001 – January 2, 2021
|Preceded by||Harry Payne|
|Succeeded by||Josh Dobson|
|Member of the North Carolina House of Representatives|
from the 45th district
Serving with Charles Preston, Joe Kiser
|Preceded by||Doris Huffman|
|Succeeded by||Mark Hilton|
|Born||December 21, 1946|
Newton, North Carolina, U.S.
Oakland Community College
Nora Cherie Killian was born in Newton, North Carolina, United States on December 21, 1946, to Earl and Lena Carrigan Killian. Her father gave her the name Cherie after the French phrase "mon chérie" (English: my darling) which he had heard in France on his way home following his release as a prisoner-of-war of World War II. Killian graduated from Maiden High School in 1965 and moved to Boone where she worked wrapping Christmas presents at a department store and selling advertisements for, writing for, and delivering newspapers. She attended Lenoir Rhyne College, ending her studies there in 1967. She also studied at Gaston College in 1969 and Oakland Community College in 1977. She married Norman H. Berry Jr. and took his last name.
In 1985 Berry and her husband founded LGM Ltd., a company based in a former billiard hall that manufactured spark-plug wires for cars. After initial financial uncertainty, the venture became very profitable. Norman H. Berry Jr. died in 2006.
State Labor Commissioner
In November 2000, she was elected state labor commissioner, the first woman to hold the post and the first Republican elected to the post. Berry was sworn in as North Carolina Commissioner of Labor on January 6, 2001. She was the only Republican on the Council of State between 2001 and 2005, and defeated Democrat Wayne Goodwin to win a second term in the 2004 statewide elections. Berry narrowly defeated Mary Fant Donnan to keep her seat in the 2008 election. Berry won a fourth four-year term in November 2012, defeating former Labor Commissioner John C. Brooks by more than 280,000 votes. Berry won a fifth four-year term in November 2016 , defeating former Raleigh mayor Charles Meeker by more than 476,000 votes, her largest percentage margin of victory. On April 2, 2019, she announced at a Council of State meeting that she would not seek reelection. She endorsed Pearl Burris Floyd to succeed her.
Berry was criticized in a newspaper report on poultry plant oversight. In 2008, The Charlotte Observer found that at least half of contributors to Berry's reelection campaign were the executives and managers of business inspected by the department she leads. The same report found that also found that while Berry's department reduced fines for workplace safety violations as a matter of routine, "Berry's contributors have usually gotten bigger-than-average breaks."
During Berry's last year in office (2020), 91 North Carolina workers died on the job, marking the highest number of work-related deaths in a decade.
In popular culture
During Berry's first term as North Carolina Commissioner of Labor, her spokesman suggested that she include a portrait of herself on inspection forms displayed in elevators in the state "to put a face on government". Berry initially rejected the idea, but decided to implement it after winning reelection.
Berry has received a small following among younger North Carolinians due to her catchy name (when mispronounced as CHAIR-ree Berry, like the fruit) and her picture inside elevators in North Carolina. Her picture and signature appeared inside all elevators in North Carolina on the Certification of Operation leading to her receiving the unofficial title of "The Elevator Queen". A paper published in a political science journal attributes her success above that of other Republican politicians to the presence of her name and picture in elevators across the state. In 2018 Elon University conducted a poll on photographic recognition of North Carolina politicians. Most of the respondents who correctly identified Berry referred to her as the "Elevator Lady" or the "Elevator Queen" instead of using her name.
In 2007 musician Dan Bryk recorded a song, Cherry Berry, about the "gal in the elevator" after seeing Berry's photograph in an elevator. He released it under a pseudonym, Tha Commissioners, on a MySpace page and supplied a copy to a disc jockey at WKNC-FM, North Carolina State University's student radio station. The music director at the station played it frequently, and Berry said of it, "I just think it rocks." The band Alternative Champs also released a song about her, entitled, Cherie Berry. A Raleigh shirt company released a shirt with the words "Cherie Berry lifts me up" printed on the front. A Durham restaurant also listed a "Cherie Berry's Elevated Tea" on its menu. In 2019 two North Carolina breweries released cherry-flavored beers in homage to Berry.
|North Carolina House of Representatives 45th District Election, 1996|
|Republican||Joe Kiser (inc.)||29,173||50.64|
|Republican||Cherie Killian Berry (inc.)||28,436||49.36|
|North Carolina House of Representatives 45th District Election, 1998|
|Republican||Joe Kiser (inc.)||20,275||39.02|
|Republican||Cherie Killian Berry (inc.)||20,122||38.72|
|North Carolina Commissioner of Labor Republican Primary Election, 2000|
|Republican||Cherie Killian Berry||92,695||38.39|
|North Carolina Commissioner of Labor Election, 2000|
|Republican||Cherie Killian Berry||1,379,417||50.13|
|North Carolina Commissioner of Labor Republican Primary Election, 2004|
|Republican||Cherie Berry (inc.)||194,723||64.57|
|North Carolina Commissioner of Labor Election, 2004|
|Republican||Cherie Berry (inc.)||1,723,004||52.09|
|North Carolina Commissioner of Labor Election, 2008|
|Republican||Cherie Berry (inc.)||2,065,095||50.61|
|Democratic||Mary Fant Donnan||2,015,442||49.39|
|North Carolina Commissioner of Labor Election, 2012|
|Republican||Cherie Berry (inc.)||2,300,500||53.26|
|Democratic||John C. Brooks||2,019,266||46.74|
|North Carolina Commissioner of Labor Election, 2016|
|Republican||Cherie Berry (inc.)||2,487,829||55.21|
- "Commissioner's Office". NCDOL. Retrieved 16 February 2014.
- North Carolina Manual 2001, p. 277.
- Queram, Kate Elizabeth (September 10, 2017). "The improbable rise of the 'Elevator Queen'". Winston-Salem Journal. Greensboro. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
- Warren-Hicks, Colin (September 5, 2017). "The woman in the elevator, Cherie Berry, is "a bit of an icon" for Millennials". The Herald-Sun. Raleigh. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
- "Norman H. Berry Jr. Obituary". The News & Observer. February 5, 2006. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
- Thomas Avery Nye, Jr. was appointed by Gov. James Holshouser to fill a vacancy, as per ECU, and Fusionist James Y. Hamrick was appointed, as all NC Labor Commissioners were prior to 1900.
- "NC SBE Contest Results".
- "North Carolina Commissioner of Labor Cherie Berry says she won't run in 2020". ABC11.com. WTVD-TV Raleigh-Durham. April 2, 2019. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
- Campbell, Colin (February 13, 2020). "Cherie Berry's legacy looms large in race to replace her. So does the elevator photo". The News & Observer. Retrieved July 21, 2020.
- Alexander, Ames (9 March 2008). "BERRY PLANS NO CHANGES AFTER STORIES ON POULTRY". The Charlotte Observer.
- Alexander, Ames; Ingram, David (5 October 2008). "For donors to Berry, breaks on fines are larger". The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved 19 October 2011.
- Smith, Jacob F. H.; Weinberg, Neil (2016). "The Elevator Effect". American Politics Research. 44 (3): 496–522. doi:10.1177/1532673X15602755. S2CID 156042718.
- Chemtob, Danielle (February 23, 2018). "Elevator Queen aside, most state leaders are a mystery to voters". The News & Observer. Retrieved April 4, 2019.
- Beckwith, Ryan Teague (July 7, 2007). "Ode to Cherie Berry redefines elevator music". The News & Observer. p. 1.
- McCorkle, Raven (January 25, 2018). "An Ode To Elevator Queen Cherie Berry". Old Gold & Black. Wake Forest University Media Board. Retrieved February 7, 2018.
- Jasper, Simone (April 17, 2019). "Cherry Berry? Brewers give nod to North Carolina 'elevator lady' with themed beers". The News & Observer. Retrieved April 17, 2019.