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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with James B. Hunt, May 18, 2001. Interview C-0329. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Hunt's rationale for assuming the lieutenant governorship

Hunt discusses his decision to run for lieutenant governor. He argues that this position afforded him the ability to accomplish his primary goal of improving the state's educational system.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with James B. Hunt, May 18, 2001. Interview C-0329. 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

JACK FLEER:
It was a disappointment to him. You said you explored possibly different offices, council of state offices, but you did decide on the lieutenant governorship. Why did you do that?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Well the office had been made full-time at a very modest salary I might add. But I thought it was, it offered potential. I mean what are you in this business for, to make change and in my case especially to improve education dramatically. I wasn't running for an office. I was running to get something done. The lieutenant governor was the president of the senate, and he was the presiding officer of the senate, appointed committees, and referred bills. It was a powerful position. When I got in it, some of the older senators tried to take that power away. They didn't do it.
JACK FLEER:
During your term.
JAMES B. HUNT:
Oh yeah.
JACK FLEER:
Which they did do of course eventually.
JAMES B. HUNT:
Yeah, later on. But yeah I could, I knew I could change things. I could improve things. I very actively worked at that when I was lieutenant governor.
JACK FLEER:
Now you said you were particularly interested in maybe even motivated by education and there is a position of superintendent of public instruction that could have given you maybe or would it have given you maybe as much of a platform to promote education as the lieutenant governorship did.
JAMES B. HUNT:
That's a very important position I had always associated with a full-time professional, long term educator which I now realize it doesn't have to be. We've got an excellent man there now. But I know I was interested in the policies and the budgets that come through the legislature, changing education that way. Back in those days if you want to say what's the number one thing, you say teacher's salaries. I now know it's a lot more complex than that. It's standards and salary and student standards and accountability for the system and all the things I talked about—