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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Eva Clayton, July 18, 1989. Interview C-0084. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Pride in past accomplishments tempered by remaining issues

Clayton discusses her position on the Warren County Board of Commissioners. She is proud of her accomplishments but points to the need to solve a variety of problems, most of which seem to stem from growth. She encourages others to become involved in local government.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Eva Clayton, July 18, 1989. Interview C-0084. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

We've got a little bit of time left, so I'd like you to comment on your continued work in electoral politics, in this case through serving on the County Commissioners Board in Warren County, because it seems that almost exactly as you were coming to do the work here, you were also establishing yourself in that area of politics.
Serving Warren County commissioners has been a particularly unique experience. Warren County is a rural county. It has many problems and limited resources. And Eva Clayton has served as chairperson for that, this is six going into seven years. We have made a tremendous impact on that community. However, being a Eva Clayton or having a majority black on the board, does not change the reality that Warren County still has tremendous problems. Local units of governments are facing just tremendous amount of demands, with increasingly less resources to come from the federal government, so they're going to have to overburden what is already a limited base to build jails——we're building a jail, we're renovating our courthouse, we're building a new middle school. We had the largest bond referendum ever in our county, ever in the history of our county, because we had so many needs, and the citizens supported it. But we still have to struggle, to try to find how do we increase that base. I think minorities serving at the local level is there, there's opportunity there. I have had that opportunity and I think have made a contribution in that. So I'm pleased about that. Where I go from here, I think that's an open question. I haven't yet decided whether I'm going to run again. I think eight years may be enough, but I would encourage other people to serve at the local level. I think it's an area where you need talented people. Now I don't say that as arrogant as it sounds, but I did bring a certain level of expertise. I've worked in local government, I was a chief planner for the state as the community development assistant, so planning's what I do here. So I'm constantly reading regulations and those kind of things. But there is not enough persons willing to serve on local unit government who have the talent. In fact, in my judgment I'm not personally willing to serve in public positions who have the talent anyhow . It's almost as if the talented people say, hey, I don't have to take that abuse, you know, I don't want to get involved. So what happens when that attitude prevails is you are governed by less skillful, less experienced persons when the skillful and experienced people are too busy doing their thing, and walk away. It's uncompensated service. Warren County doesn't have the resources to compensate anyone, so you don't go there thinking you're gong to supplement your income, you're really going to lose income, because you're going to have to give so much of your time. But it's an area that needs to be done, and I think it's an area that gives tremendous rewards, because you can see it, you can see it. When that school is built I will see it, when that courthouse is, I will see it. Also, when they don't pick up the trash, I'll see that, and plus everyone knows my telephone number. You get the complaints immediately, but you also get the benefits, I think.