Out of all of Bev Perdue's cabinet appointments the one that was going to send the strongest message one way or the other about whether she was committed to bringing any change to state government was her pick as the head of DOT. Her selection of Gene Conti is a good sign in that realm.
Conti is clearly qualified for the job, having served both as the Chief Deputy Secretary for NCDOT and as an Assistant Secretary for USDOT. He got both of those previous positions by virtue of an accomplished career as a civil servant, not because he was a big dollar political fundraiser. The selection makes it clear Perdue was going for competence and knowledge over campaign dollars.
She also said 'no' to Marc Basnight. There had been some dispute about whether that was something she was going to be capable of or not. He made it clear he wanted Lanny Wilson to be appointed, a decision that would have been as 'business as usual' as it gets, and cast serious doubt on whether Perdue had any interest in change at all. By choosing Conti and not Wilson she made a statement that she can be her own woman.
It's very early but this decision would seem to be a good sign for how Perdue will run her administration.