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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with James E. Holshouser Jr., May 9, 1998. Interview C-0328-3. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Holshouser weighs his legacy

Holshouser considers his legacy, including his contributions to the state's transportation system, to public health programs, and environmental management.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with James E. Holshouser Jr., May 9, 1998. Interview C-0328-3. 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

Let's in these final minutes reflect on the legacy of the Holshouser administration. What do you think, looking over twenty-some years, are the most important accomplishments of the Holshouser gubernatorial administration?
Well, the passing of years probably gives you a different perspective. If you'd ask me in 1977, I would have said the Seven Year Transportation Plan was one of the most important things we did. I find if I look at what's out there today in terms of transportation that even though it's on paper and more public than it was in 1972, that you've got umpteen zillion projects in that plan that can't be funded anytime in the next ten years. That's exactly what we'd been trying to get away from. For awhile I thought it worked pretty well. It's hard to say how it has changed and who's responsible. I have a feeling that what's happened is that legislators and DOT members, influential campaign people, want a project. Rather than saying no, they just put them into an early phase in the plan. This isn't necessarily bad because eventually it's got to start some place. But when you put more in the front than you're ever going to be able to put out the back, that leads to a lot of disillusioned people. So I discount that. Rural health centers have probably been a good part of something we started. They're still out there helping folks. They changed. We have had a lot of local hospitals close. That's made them more important. You've got HMO's getting put together all over the place, and you've got regional hospitals, and this makes regional health centers potentially more a wing of a regional hospital than they were intended to be. But they are out there, anyway, and I think they've done a lot. Some of the environmental stuff we did has obviously lasted; the Coastal Area Management Act was important, and I've always agreed with the decisions of the commission staff. I think it has certainly helped us protect the coastline. Every governor can look back on the industry that they brought to the state, and every governor builds on what the previous governor did. We had the first million dollar investment—capital investment for new industry, which looks small by today's standards and that is good for the state that it does. I guess I feel good about the fact that we came out of four years with polls showing that they thought the administration had not only done a decent job, but it had also been pretty clean. Sometimes things happen beyond your control. We've seen that in Washington with people in the administration just doing bad things. It taints the administration to a certain degree, so sometimes you're lucky if you don't have anything happen. That's particularly true when the talent pool from which you're selecting is pretty small. I still feel pretty good about that, and I'm always pleased that a number of people still come up to me and thank me for my service to the state.