Documenting the American South Logo
Loading
Title: Oral History Interview with James B. Hunt, August 15, 2001. Interview C-0331. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Hunt, James B., interviewee
Interview conducted by Fleer, Jack
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Kristin Shaffer
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2008
Size of electronic edition: 144 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2008.
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.
The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2008-00-00, Celine Noel, Wanda Gunther, and Kristin Martin revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2008-02-18, Kristin Shaffer finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with James B. Hunt, August 15, 2001. Interview C-0331. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series C. Notable North Carolinians. Southern Oral History Program Collection (C-0331)
Author: Jack Fleer
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with James B. Hunt, August 15, 2001. Interview C-0331. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series C. Notable North Carolinians. Southern Oral History Program Collection (C-0331)
Author: James B. Hunt
Description: 223 Mb
Description: 41 p.
Note: Interview conducted on August 15, 2001, by Jack Fleer; recorded in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Note: Transcribed by L. Altizer.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series C. Notable North Carolinians, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Editorial practices
An audio file with the interview complements this electronic edition.
The text has been entered using double-keying and verified against the original.
The text has been encoded using the recommendations for Level 4 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines.
Original grammar and spelling have been preserved.
All quotation marks, em dashes and ampersand have been transcribed as entity references.
All double right and left quotation marks are encoded as "
All em dashes are encoded as —

Interview with James B. Hunt, August 15, 2001.
Interview C-0331. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Hunt, James B., interviewee


Interview Participants

    JAMES B. HUNT, interviewee
    JACK FLEER, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
JACK FLEER:
An interview with Governor James B. Hunt of North Carolina for Wake Forest University and the Southern Oral History Program in Chapel Hill. This interview is part of a series of interviews with North Carolina former governors. The interview was conducted August 15, 2001, at the office of Governor Hunt in Raleigh, North Carolina. The interviewer is Dr. Jack D. Fleer, Department of Politics, Wake Forest University, tape number 8-15-01-JBH.
How can a governor be an effective chief executive?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Well, to be an effective chief executive, the governor has to know what he wants to accomplish. He has to have goals, and he has to have a plan to carry it out. He has to have a good team in place, a good organization to help him with it including the people on his immediate staff in the governor's office, the department heads and the people who serve under them in the various cabinet departments and so forth. He must be engaged and very active in obviously getting his program through the legislature and getting it acted on by regulatory groups that have to act and getting his budget, he has to get his budget approved. Assuming all that's been done then the governor needs to work closely with his team, both his own staff and the heads of the various departments, to ensure that the goals are being accomplished. I did that by setting out an agenda for my administration, a very detailed one which I assume you have copies of—
JACK FLEER:
Yes, I do.
JAMES B. HUNT:
Probably no administration in history has ever had such a detailed agenda. We had retreats every six months to make sure we were following up. We had issue groups that worked across department lines. We had reports and cabinet meetings on various areas of our agenda. The governor has to work out beyond his own

Page 2
administration. He has to work with local people. For example, I was pleased to note last week that in the year 2000, the last year of my administration, we accomplished one of our goals. We had the highest rate of [immunization] in America of our children. That was a specific goal that we had. To do that we had to work closely with the public health departments, with the private doctors and hospitals and so forth around the state. To accomplish our goals in education we had to work closely with our department of education here and the state board which the governor appoints, but with the local school systems, with the superintendents and with teachers and with other groups throughout the state. It's a matter of first having the goals, and they should come, frankly you should campaign on those goals which I did. Then laying out the plan, all the things you have to do to accomplish those goals, be very clear about it. My agenda was always on great big boards everywhere we had meetings. We had it laminated so people were supposed to carry it in their coat pockets. Some people even contended they wore it in their pajamas. So we kept our goals clear in our mind, then we regularly, I regularly discussed these matters with them. They discussed them with each other, and we were constantly working with the other players around the state who had to be a part of making these things happen. Then the governor has to give it strong personal leadership and drive. He can't just delegate it. If you do delegate, you must delegate effectively and have a good team that can help you carry through your programs. But for it to really be effective people have to sense that the leader, the governor is involved, knowledgeable, involved, active. Again because so much of it is public policy you have to constantly be out and educate the people, preaching the message and getting people to buy in and to be supportive and helping the voters to understand what you're trying to do, to know when

Page 3
you've had some successes. The NAEP scores came out last week, that was great news. Here in North Carolina [we] made more progress in improving math scores in the fourth and eighth grade, at both levels than any state in America. The kind of thing, and then you have to have ways of constantly telling people how you're doing. We developed the concept of a report card for our schools as we try to move toward first in America by the year 2010. That's the kind of thing you must get out in press conferences and get the public understanding of what it is we're trying to do and how we're trying to do it and what role they can play in it.
JACK FLEER:
Governor, you covered a lot of points there as I anticipated you would, and I wanted to go back and focus on some particular ones and ask some questions about them. Let's begin by talking about how you developed the what you call, the agenda for action. Who was involved in developing that agenda and how was that developed?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Well, when you first run or in my case when I ran for a second time, you develop it with your, you develop it with your own mind and heart, what are you running for, why are you running, to do what. If you can't answer that question, you shouldn't ever run. I could always answer that question because I was running, that's the reason I was running not to be governor, but to accomplish certain things. You pull together a team of people who care about those things, are knowledgeable. First two terms as governor Joe Grimsley was very close to me. He had an interest in economic development, balanced growth, environmental protection, things of that sort. Judge (Phil) Carlton was close to me. He was very interested in crime control and public safety and the court system that was effective. I had a number of people who were interested in education, but my own deep involvement too was a source. I was sort of the education

Page 4
resource person myself although we had a lot of people for lots of things. My second go round, and I'm talking about when you first run, I involved a number of people that helped me the first time. People like Gary Pearce and Stephanie Bass and Tom Houlihan who was my senior education advisor, people that cared about and had been involved in developing policies in areas that you were running to do something about. Then when you get in, when you're running for re-election you have a policy office, and I had good ones, people who regularly worked on the policies that you were focusing on. You had a director of that policy office, and you had people in your cabinet who were interested in those things. So do you want me to try to talk more about the people now that we're involved?
JACK FLEER:
More the process, yes. Let me ask you one more particular question. There are lots of options in terms of where you would get advice and information and suggestions of what you would do. Your personal staff in the campaign or as governor, once you're elected the cabinet, the people you appoint, lobbyists, leaders of particular organizations. One of the images of governor is sort of the manager of a large group of people trying to coordinate and consolidate an effort towards a set of goals. Among those various sources of information that you might have that can help you develop an agenda, what would you say would be those who would be most helpful really categories of people rather than particular individuals, although it might be useful to illustrate the particular individuals?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Well, let me think about that. Again the governor I think is most effective if he has had personal experience with these things, has deep feelings, and good personal ideas. In addition to that you would call people in the academic communities, many of

Page 5
whom have done good research and I frequently did that. I would call people who were involved in policy areas at universities and so forth to share ideas with me. I would more often call people who were in the arena so to speak. Let me give you some specific examples. When I developed the Excellent Schools Act, which was developed around the table in the library at the Governor's Mansion, I had the rough idea of what I wanted it to be. I had thought up the name myself. But I brought in representatives of teacher groups, and principals. I brought in superintendents. I brought in people who were in my policy office who had thought about these things and knew about the kind of work being done. In other words I brought in the people in the education community who were real knowledgeable and who I would count on to help me develop the plan and people who were willing to help we carrying it out. When it came to environmental legislation, I would talk to both environmentalists and the business community and figure out what was the best thing to do, working of course always with your cabinet people. In my most recent administration, Bill Holman was my secretary of Environment and Natural Resources. I would work closely with him and his staff, and I would listen to people from various interest groups who had a different point of view. You would listen to the lawyers who would tell you what they thought the law would require. In many cases you were responding to federal requirements these days. When it came to crime legislation, I would listen to and receive input from law enforcement officers, district attorneys, judges. And my approach would typically be to set up a study group. I think the juvenile code reform is probably a pretty good example of that. They had been working on that, trying to bring about major reforms for a couple of decades I guess. I just finally took the bull by the horns and set up a commission to study all that. I put on it all the players, the kind

Page 6
of folks who needed to be involved in it including both law enforcement people and youth services kinds of people. I chaired it myself. My approach would be to go around the state. I had the commission go around the state having hearings, listening to people, invite them all to come in, asking them questions and push them to see what was going on, what needed to be done. Then you have the commission write a report, make proposals and then put that into a bill, which you would have the legislature consider. In this case we proposed that we combine the functions of the Administrative Office of the Courts and the things at youth services and have this one combined department under Chief Sweat. So those, I'm afraid I'm not responding adequately to your question, and I'll let you push me a little more. But you kind of look for idea people who are kind of a little more detached and objective and say in academic community or a research organization or something like that. You look at what's being done across the country and so forth. Then you bring together various groups that have an interest in it and have points of view. Then you may just have some kind of official study to get more input and to make sure everybody has a chance to be heard, and then you develop your plan and go forward to the legislature and so forth and so on.
JACK FLEER:
Let me ask you a specific matter related to that. When you're looking for people to be involved, you've got both the substance of whatever policy it is that you're dealing with, and you also have the politics of whatever policy that you're dealing with. To what extent should and would political considerations be a part of these deliberations and how would that come into them—
JAMES B. HUNT:
You would have your political people at the table, and you would, most of mine cared about these issues. But people who, these are mainly when I say political

Page 7
people, I'm talking about people who know how to help get things done politically because they need to know how all this originated. They need to know who did what, how are you thinking about this. What, how has all this developed. I would have my senior staff meet every morning at the library at the Mansion generally. We would go over the day's activities. We would talk about issues that were pressing, things that were flaring up in different areas. But also to keep us focused on what we were trying to do, what had to be done right now to carry forward. I would have a cabinet meeting once a week generally on Monday morning. That would go for an hour or two hours. Every several months I would bring in the top policy people from all the departments. The secretary would bring his deputy or the deputy or assistant secretaries and his policy person and his press person and his legislative relations person. I always had my people that helped me with politics, who helped me think about how you get things done, always had them at the tables because they've got to know what's going on and be fully informed so they can help you most effectively—
JACK FLEER:
As you I'm sure are aware there are different opinions about the desirability say for example of taking people from the campaign and bringing them into administrations. Some people would argue that running for public office is very different from serving in a public office. You said that you almost always if not always had these political people presumably people involved in your campaign at the table. Can you talk about why you saw that as preferable to a different approach?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Let me hasten to say, I didn't always bring them into my administration. I didn't always put them into roles they would've like to have had. But they have value. The reason I typically did that, Jack, is because they had been a part of crafting the

Page 8
agenda. They'd been a part of the discussion with the public. They knew areas and ways in which we had support, where we had challenges or perhaps opposition. They would be valuable in getting your program through. I'm talking about through the legislature and the budget approved and then helping you enact it and carry through with the people out there. Generally they had to be informed and had to be convinced, and they had to be brought on board. You see I don't really, I don't think there should be a great separation between the campaign and the government, the administration. You, it's a different function. But the campaign is where you talk about ideas with people; they listen; they make up their mind to say support you and back your ideas, and then you should be successful in carrying those through. I talked to you earlier about the contract concept that I had in politics. The people who helped you form the contract quite often can be very effective in helping you execute the contract. Which is if you had a lawyer who advised you on how you drafted a contract, he would be knowledgeable about what it provided as you were carrying it through you would might constantly be checking with that person to see if we're doing this right. But more often people in politics helped you get your ideas out to the public. Then they were also valuable in helping you continue to get your ideas out there as you carried through what you were trying to do. It's a constant in a sense, in a good sense of the word, serving is a constant campaign. It's a constant matter of communicating with the public, receiving their input, educating them about what needs to be done, getting support whether it's from voters, then it's from the legislature, then it's from the institutional folks out there you have to get on board to help you carry through and really make it happen. So you've got to constantly be

Page 9
communicating with people, getting their support and pulling it together to be an effective team.
JACK FLEER:
Obviously you personally can't do all of those things. So you have to, although I know you were very engaged and very involved in many steps of this process, but you obviously have to appoint and select a large number of people to assist you. What would be some of the key criteria you would use in determining who would be staff people in the office of the governor, secretaries of the departments and deputies and assistants in those departments.
JAMES B. HUNT:
Well, first of all I looked for people who cared and had an interest in the issues and what I was about—my campaign and administration was about. Second, I looked for people that I thought had integrity and ability in performing their functions. Third, I looked for people who would work hard and go the extra mile and be team players. Then obviously when you're talking about say a chief of staff or deputies, you're going to be talking about people who are real good at overseeing and helping you manage the entire government and who can themselves engage your team and give them the attention they need to have and have them effectively involved. When it's cabinet, then you need people who have the ability to, have executive ability, team who can—. I always look for people who were imbued with my ideas and deeply committed to my policies. But also you want people who can manage a department, who can—. Sometimes you have to put good managers in to help them with, if they haven't had a lot of experience and who can see that day to day functions continue effectively and legally so forth who can also help you carry the message out. I would recall that David Bruton really proved himself when we had a special session on child health insurance. The

Page 10
federal government was making some money available for this but unlike Texas, which didn't act on it for a year and a half. The minute it became available, we had a plan developed for North Carolina, which we led. I called on the lieutenant governor to come in and help us with that. We developed a plan, and then I started making visits around the state to personally learn with David Bruton what the situation was with our children, what we might do to change that. Then I called a special session of the legislature. I didn't just wait for the legislature to come to town. I again went out and laid the groundwork, the building blocks leading up to that legislature so that those people would come having seen the governor in their town visiting children in the hospital in Winston-Salem which I specifically remember going to. Children whose parents were not going to be able to pay their bills, they weren't going to get medical care. Possibly in some cases they weren't going to be able to treat them. So I use that example to indicate that you've got to have good managers. You've also got to have idea leaders. You've got to have issue leaders. I picked the first real environmentalist to head the environmental department in the history of state government. Some people thought it wasn't a good idea. I thought it was. He had to be fair. He had to see the big picture and carry out the law. But I always looked, I didn't look for generalists. Sometimes you get a generalist. I had several of those. I would say that Katie Dorsett was a generalist. But generally I looked for the advocate. Betty McCain, how do you get a better advocate for cultural resources and the arts and the history and all of those things. How do you get a better advocate than Bill Holman? How did you get somebody with a stronger background in economic development than Rick Carlisle or for a different kind, Norris Tolson? I could go on through there. So I'm taking too much time answering this question. But I looked for

Page 11
people by and large who had a background, cared deeply, thought a lot and had good ideas themselves to lead these departments, to make things happen. In my first, my third term, I brought in Robin Britt. Robin Britt at the very time I brought him in was involved fulltime in a program for early childhood development. So I wanted to find people who were doing the kinds of things that I wanted to do on a larger scale. Then I tried to help them be good managers, but if that wasn't their forte, I'd bring in a deputy and help them who did have that kind of strength.
JACK FLEER:
Obviously we're talking about a fairly large number of people. Is it difficult to find the people that you wanted to have in the administration? If so, how do you deal with that difficulty?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Well, let's say you're first coming in, again you would invite people to apply and to suggest others. You would discuss with people that you respected and whose ideas you thought well of for people who they would suggest. You would typically have a lot of folks recommended to you. You would also, there would be some logical people, like this person was obviously fit for this. Then you always would wind up with some positions that you didn't have say a perfect candidate, and you'd go out and search some more. You'd ask some more people. I was always looking for some diversity in my cabinet and my staff. I would ask friends, women's organizations, African American organizations, and Hispanics as we began to include them in the circle for suggestions. I, perhaps unlike some administrations years ago, I was determined that I was going to have that diversity. I was going to find it. You can find it if you look hard enough. Sometimes you may need to stretch a little too far in trying to find it, and you'd bring somebody that maybe hadn't had all the training that you'd like for them to have. But I

Page 12
don't I know, I didn't take out ads asking people to apply, but we got the word out pretty broadly that we were looking for people. Then folks would send in ideas, and you'd have files made up for secretary this or that or the other. Then I would interview top candidates personally maybe with somebody sitting in. Sometimes you'd have people kind of do a little preliminary review to help you winnow down the candidates. Then the final analysis they had to believe in what I wanted to do. They had to, and I always looked for personal loyalty. You'd have to have loyalty because there are times when you can't do what your cabinet officer wants you to do. You can't make that a top priority. They have to be a part of the team. We had what we called the Hunt agenda. That was the agenda for everybody. If your own personal stuff in your department wasn't up there on that list, then hopefully you could get some of it done, but it was not the top thing. You just had to understand that. You had to support the top stuff. If you went out and made speeches, you had to speak about my agenda. You could work in your stuff, but my agenda had to come first, our agenda, the people's agenda.
JACK FLEER:
Let me ask you specifically about a word that I know a lot of people don't like to use in politics, patronage as a factor in selecting people. Throughout the last fifty years and I'm sure prior to that the issue of political appointment had been a perennial issue in state and national politics. You went through a period in I guess the fourth term where you were I guess hit pretty hard on some questions about the number of exempt personnel. You undertook some reforms to try to reduce or to reduce—
JAMES B. HUNT:
More than that, I abolished the patronage system. The legislature had taken some action, and they had reduced some of the exempt positions down to say 500. I don't know what the number was exactly. You can get that through research. I did it

Page 13
with, I abolished the patronage office with some misgivings I must tell you because I never believed that people who were active in politics and recommended by your political friends were ipso facto unqualified to hold office. I found that many of them were qualified. The fact that they believed in it and worked on your campaign gave them additional interest in what you were doing, maybe passion and energy to do it well. But and I always was very careful about the people that worked on it. For example in my first administrations the person who ultimately had the control over all that was Joe Pell, one of the most, the finest human beings, one of the best businessman in North Carolina and of sterling character and integrity. He would not knowingly ever let somebody come into government who wasn't qualified. Nevertheless at the end of my last term, in my fourth term I concluded that we'd had some problems with some of the people who served in the Department of Transportation. I just concluded that all things considered on balance, state government would be better off if you did not have a patronage office. So I abolished it. There will always be some of it, but I would say that we have dramatically reduced the effect of politics on the selection of officials in North Carolina.
JACK FLEER:
One of the interesting things about this is that as we were talking earlier you said, and I'm sure other governors feel similarly, that the people who help you get elected, committed to your program are a very important part of your governing and your ability to get those programs enacted and implemented. Yet there's also this issue of, are those people going to be qualified or are they there only because or primarily because you found them helpful to you in getting elected. It's a real dilemma in the system, isn't it? And is abolishing the patronage office a way to deal with that dilemma?

Page 14
JAMES B. HUNT:
Well, I don't know that it resolves the dilemma, but it's a way to deal with the public perception. The public perception that the press furthered was that if somebody was involved in politics they were ipso facto not qualified to be serving the governor. I think that's wrong. The main evidence is the candidates who won. Who's more involved in politics than somebody running for governor? Is the fact that you're a candidate, that you're running, you're in politics, therefore a disqualification for serving? To take it to an extreme that's what you're talking about. Of course, not. But we have to live in the real world. I had and I'm not certain about this Jack, but I think earlier when I was lieutenant governor, I had tried to keep some—. But you basically have to. You must keep a set of people who are primary policy makers who will be committed to you and your policies. You have to have that for it to work. But in the final analysis in my last term we reduced that down to about a hundred positions. That may be too few. I don't know. But you have to have that at least. I think we can make it be okay without a patronage system although I never thought it was the evil others thought.
JACK FLEER:
Another dimension of recruiting people for this is the question of salary. There's the argument that people who are employed in public service do not command the kinds of compensation that people in the private sector do. Was that ever a problem in your recruiting people for public office?
JAMES B. HUNT:
It was a very big problem. It just absolutely eliminates the possibility that you would get anybody who is a real successful person unless they are independently wealthy. They see it as a stepping stone to something else they want to do. Or they're just willing to make a sacrifice in their career and in their income. I frequently brought in people who were independently wealthy and didn't have to worry about the impact on

Page 15
their income or their increase over time of their income. But I would say to you by and large successful business people are not available to join government especially younger ones.

Page 16
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
JAMES B. HUNT:
Typically people who, sometimes lawyers would come in and work for you if they see a judgeship vacant. People, there are people who have ambitions for themselves who may see this as a good way to get exposure to get known. Richard Moore, I think, became quite well known as Secretary of Crime Control and Public Safety through the work in the hurricanes as well as Crime Control. That was an advantage to him. He ran for state treasurer. But it is a huge problem trying to get good people to serve. But it is not impossible. It does eliminate a category of folks pretty much, but they're, fortunately there're others who have the resources already or who just care so deeply they want to make the sacrifice.
JACK FLEER:
What about the loss or the diminishing of personal privacy in your own life so to speak? Is that a deterrent to people serving? Did you run into that?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Increasingly. My wife really chafed under the constant public scrutiny, the criticism of the press, the lack of privacy, the lack of ability to have our own private life. I understood it. That's just the way it works. She was willing for me to run for re-election initially and to run a second time after I had already served two terms because she believed very deeply in what we were doing especially in education. Our children and grandchildren had a big stake in it. But that is a big problem, and yet what do you do about it? It's the public's business. I believe in full and open information, press access to most things. Certainly they, we, you have to remember in my term we put into place a very, very strict code of ethics. Some people on my commissions refused to be a part of it and therefore resigned. I mean their positions on boards and commissions not in the administration full time. So that's a problem, but there's still plenty of good people that

Page 17
believe so strongly that they'll come in and to put up with that and live with the kind of scrutiny and so forth that goes with it.
JACK FLEER:
Part of the scrutiny that's involved in serving as governor and serving the governor as an appointee is the scrutiny related to campaign contributions and service in the public. You ran into as previous governors have on the board of transportation for example some fairly serious allegations at least about people who gave significant amounts of money to your campaign benefiting from highway construction projects or whatever it might be. What does that tell you about our campaign finance system, and what can we do based on your experience to alleviate this public perception of people feeding from the public trough?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Well, we have to first of all have a code of ethics in which you clearly identified any interests that people on the board of transportation or other fulltime positions have. You've got to know what they own or categories, certainly areas in which they have ownership [unclear] . We must constantly be educating people with regard to that. I directed that the relevant parts of the code of ethics be, after they were strengthened and so forth—that those be regularly read in meetings and boards and focused on. Ethics statements have to be updated every year. I would just say, Jack, again push me on this if you will, you have to have a way of knowing whether or not they have potential conflicts. You do that by having the statement of, your ethics statement filled out in great detail having it available to the public of course, constantly referring to it and keeping it on their minds and having your department be sensitive to that.
JACK FLEER:
You're talking about financial disclosures statements?

Page 18
JAMES B. HUNT:
Yes. But basically you have to limit the number of people who serve who have an interest. Now the question is does contributing to the campaign mean that you're not qualified to serve? I never felt that it should mean that you couldn't serve. There are other interests involved. That's not necessarily a qualification, but it shouldn't be a disqualification. It's the fact that you, you get involved in politics, there's lots of ways. You can work at the precincts or you can go out and speak or you can give money. You don't disqualify people for working at the precinct or going out and speaking or advising or whatever it may be. Yet again we're in a, we live in a world where making contributions has been presented by various groups and the press as somehow disqualifying them to serve. So I think the way the legislature eventually dealt with it and the Board of Transportation was to, in effect, limit or disqualify active members from leading fundraisers and assuring that you have lots of other interests represented is probably a pretty good way to deal with it. But you have to be careful that you don't go so far that nobody will give, if it takes money. I've come to the point where I believe in public financed campaigns. You still have to have some individual gifts but they would be small. Then you wouldn't have to work, the candidates wouldn't have to work at it. I believe that we have to do something about this. But there are people who naively think that you can have campaigns without spending money. You have eight million people, seven million people communicating with them, it's hugely expensive any way you do it. We're being very naïve. It's counterproductive to pretend that you can run campaigns without having a lot of money. I think the only way to do it is to let that money come from the public so that your obligation is to the public, and it could not be perceived just as corruption from substantial amounts of money.

Page 19
JACK FLEER:
So you would permit some private contributions, but you would limit their amounts.
JAMES B. HUNT:
Yes. I would, I haven't devised a specific detail, but I think you have to have some way of identifying who are the serious candidates. That is typically done by people who raise a certain amount of money. They're obviously serious candidates.
JACK FLEER:
Sort of a certain threshold amount that they would raise to qualify?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Yes. That's right. But once you qualify, then I would have public financing of campaigns.
JACK FLEER:
Short of that which—
JAMES B. HUNT:
Now we've discussed this before haven't we?
JACK FLEER:
No, we haven't.
JAMES B. HUNT:
Well, let me say to you then, I'm not only concerned about where the money comes from. I am concerned about that. It's easier to become beholden to people who give you money as it is people who endorse you, big organizations and things like that. But the things that really sort of made me pretty passionate on this issue is the fact that raising money has become a full-time job. Candidates spend most of their time raising money, not out talking to people, listening to people, learning about the issues, trying to figure out, building the kind of relationship they need to have with their governor. They spend most of their time on the telephone raising money or in a reception with big givers. They don't see ordinary people. I think that is a real threat to our democracy.
JACK FLEER:
Well, not only a threat to our democracy, but it probably inhibits the ability of a person to actually serve as governor in the sense that they're less well informed of what the people are thinking.

Page 20
JAMES B. HUNT:
Yes. This has all occurred during the time, over the time that I served as governor. When I ran for lieutenant governor, my first kind of big activity was a one hundred county tour, a one hundred county tour. I finished and came back and had a press conference and announced I had just been to 102 counties. They wanted to know where the other two came from. I said well US 64 was being worked on way up in western North Carolina. I had to go through two counties in Georgia to get back, which was true. But in those early years I went to every county time and again and again and again. I can tell you about every county in North Carolina. I can draw you a map. I can tell you about the places in there that I've been. I can tell you the people; I can tell you the industries. I can tell you how they make a living. I can tell you what their schools are like. I can tell you about their medical services. I know all that. I know those people. Candidates who run today can't do that. They don't ever go to them. They don't know the people. They can't picture in their mind's eye. They can't tell you what the courthouse looks like or what the schools look like or other things.
JACK FLEER:
Or what's on people's minds?
JAMES B. HUNT:
That's right. They haven't had that interaction with people. Therefore, they can use television. But they can't, I think or the likelihood of their being able, to know what people are thinking and being able to pull them together and rally them to do big things is really reduced. Again they don't have in their mind's eye the picture of what these communities and these people are like. It's much harder I think to understand the public's will and desires and hopes and dreams, and to be able to fashion the kind of teamwork and partnership to bring that about and to get the legislature to respond. Every time I talk to a legislator and try to get them to help, I knew the people back home that

Page 21
had helped them. Candidates don't do that now. They don't typically. They will in a few communities. They don't have a team of people in every county in the state who will be kind of urging that legislator to be supportive if they can [unclear] .
JACK FLEER:
Isn't part of the problem here, Governor, that the amounts of money that are involved are so great that those candidates may well feel that sort of the maximum return that they're going to get in terms of funding is focusing on the funding process?
JAMES B. HUNT:
That's right. That's exactly right. You have to, they hire these consultants. The consultants tell them this is a TV game. The only way you can win it is on television, and you have to have immense amounts of money in order to be able to do it; therefore, you've got to spend all your time raising money.
JACK FLEER:
There's a certain reality to that, isn't there?
JAMES B. HUNT:
There is, but we can change it by having public financing; therefore, freeing up candidates to go back and be real candidates again.
JACK FLEER:
Let's switch gears here. In addition to those people that you bring into the administration, as the chief executive you also have to deal with persons who are separately and independently elected, the Council of State. Can you talk about your relationship as governor with Council of State members and their departments?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Well, they are independently elected. That means there are limits on requirements to cooperate and work together. As governor I always saw it as my duty to work with the members of the Council of State and to try to get their cooperation for my things I was interested in and to try to get [behind] the things that they were interested in. I had mixed success. Craig Phillips was the superintendent of public instruction when I was first governor. He and I had some differences on testing. But we had many similar

Page 22
interests in early childhood and things of that sort. But I didn't at that time, this has changed now, at that time I did not spend as much time working with him or with the State Board of Education as I later realized I should. I contrast that then to—then Bob Etheridge and I had a good relationship. We're friends. But we differed on things like I was at that time pushing the election of the state superintendent, I mean the appointment of the state superintendent. He disagreed with that. Again we had a working relationship that wasn't as close as it could have been. I take a good part of the responsibility for my having been part of that. Again I have learned over time. Then I contrast that with the relationship I had during my last administration with Mike Ward. I was an early supporter of his and had known him and thought he was the best person for the job. I developed an approach of bringing in the state Board of Education—first of all having breakfast monthly with the state superintendent and the chairman of the State Board of Education. We just sort of made that a three-person education leadership team for North Carolina. So far as I know that's never been done before. But I increasingly realized that if we were going to accomplish our goals, if we were going to be successful with early childhood education and have these high standards and raise these test scores, make these schools work effectively, and get the kinds of teachers in we wanted to have and have them be successful then we had to have a real team. So we built a team even though the constitution sets it up as a separate department. Just by working together, and I took the lead on doing that, and he was very receptive to doing that. We also of course named the education cabinet which the legislature established a viable organization in the last years of my, in the years of my last term. An their most important activity was to help us devise our First in America goals and a report card to measure those and so forth.

Page 23
JACK FLEER:
Now you mentioned education, and that's sort of a particularly interesting and maybe somewhat separate area from other departments because governors in North Carolina and many other places, but particularly in North Carolina, get very intricately involved in education as a very big part of our state budget. The state has a huge responsibility in this area.
JAMES B. HUNT:
The governor appoints the state Board of Education, which actually is the head of the department of education.
JACK FLEER:
Does that mean that that particular area would be what you would think serious need of reform as compared with the secretary of state or the commissioner of insurance or the commissioner of agriculture.
JAMES B. HUNT:
When you say reform, do you mean making it an appointed position?
JACK FLEER:
That's right.
JAMES B. HUNT:
Well, yes. I think that's a good idea. Can it be done practically speaking, politically? No, and I concluded that and I stopped working on it. No need to engage in futility and it became very clear to me, about seventy percent of the people in this state did not want to give up any elected positions. We also found out about judges by the way though we ought to be working on some kind of approach. So yes, I think it would be best if you have an appointed superintendent. But the people aren't going to agree to it. So we have to find other ways to have the governor work with that department, the superintendent's office. Let me hasten to say too that I also obviously worked with all Council of State members. Because of my interest in it and my personal involvement in agriculture, I had a very close relationship with Jim Graham. Worked with him, I had my own Governor's Advisory Committee on Agriculture. I think we called it Agriculture,

Page 24
Seafood and Forestry for part of my terms, which he was a part of. There was a little tension there. The question always is should the governor rely on this elected Council of State in any particular area to be his sole advisor or will he have his own advisors along with that person? In many of those areas, I had my own advisors along with that person. The governor would have his own legal counsel. Well sometimes the legal counsel might give you different advice from the Attorney General. You could talk about the same thing in some of these other areas.
JACK FLEER:
On budget requests, would you essentially just accept the budget requests that those department secretaries submitted?
JAMES B. HUNT:
No. No. That of course is subject to some real tension. In a good year, when there was plenty of the money you'd typically have a budget that would reflect enough of the Council of State's priorities. They would feel pretty good about it. But in tough years you couldn't ask for any more money for them, maybe only a little small thing or two. That was frequently the source of some real friction. I'm sure the Council of State will tell you that. Of course you say you're cutting your own cabinet people back, too. But they were independently elected. So they feel like their requests ought to be honored. But the governor is the director of the budget. It's his job to put together a budget, submit it to the legislature. He's got to make sure it's balanced; he's responsible for submitting it and carrying it out. So that's just a situation that exists.
JACK FLEER:
What about on legislative policy initiatives. Would you get involved in those or would you let them carry their own responsibilities?
JAMES B. HUNT:
If it was part of my agenda, I got very involved.
JACK FLEER:
No, I mean from those Council of State departments.

Page 25
JAMES B. HUNT:
Well, again it depends on what you're talking about. With agriculture let's say. Typically Jim Graham would have policy positions. But I'll give you an example. Farmland preservation, now Jim is a big soil conservationist. He feels strongly about it. But the proposals for farmland preservation came from me as governor. The number of environmental things I pushed as governor the Department of Agriculture in some cases went along and in some cases felt we went too far. Certainly they didn't would want to have them located in their department. But these are, you do have some tensions because of our divided government and our elected Council of State members. But part of the governor's job is to manage that, not to defer in every case. Your job is to carry through what people elected you to do. If people elected you to have clean air and clean water and to preserve green space, then you try to carry that through working with legislators, Council of State and everybody that you can. But if they disagree and are not a part of that, you do it another way.
JACK FLEER:
What about on personnel within those departments. One of the things that I've read anyway about the reforms that you enacted in '97 was that some of those departments, in fact I think all of those departments, were very reluctant to cut back on so called patronage positions. Is there anything a governor can do, that you did do, about that?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Well, the legislature actually enacted the law that specified the [number of exempt] positions. I proposed it, and they enacted it. Some of them really chafed on that. Prior to that they could just designate their own exempt positions whichever ones they thought were policymaking or very confidential and so forth. But again the governor is elected by all the people and is the chief executive of all the government; therefore, I

Page 26
think has a responsibly to propose things that will make all of government more effective and trustworthy and so forth. I think abolishing patronage, limiting exempt positions to those that are clearly policymaking and very confidential is an important way to do that. You know how these things work, Jack, you have to have some big policies that everybody has to conform with. Then where you have problems you just try to work them out individually. That's the reason the governor has to go the extra mile to take trips with people and make speeches for and do things with them and listen to them and try to find a way to help them budgetwise and so forth. It's not unlike the way you work with key legislators whose support is essential.
JACK FLEER:
The picture that you draw of your relationship with these offices is different from what some governors have. I'm wondering whether, I've drawn in at least interviews I've had with them, and I wonder whether the issue of partisanship becomes key element here in that I don't believe you ever had a Council of State member who was not a Democrat.
JAMES B. HUNT:
I think that's right. Yeah. Yeah.
JACK FLEER:
And yet many Republican governors had almost all Democrats most of the time. Is that an issue or is that really an issue of the position of governor, that you need to protect his position as chief executive; therefore, you do intervene on budget and you do intervene on legislative proposals and you may even intervene on personnel decisions?
JAMES B. HUNT:
I'm not sure I understand your question.
JACK FLEER:
Well, does it make it easier—you talk about the fact that you were very involved in those departments when you thought that it was inconsistent, any actions they

Page 27
might take were inconsistent with what you were doing, inconsistent with what you believed the people of the state thought—
JAMES B. HUNT:
It doesn't happen very often but on occasions, yes.
JACK FLEER:
Some other governors have said I basically accept what those departments proposed for the budget. They have their separate legislative program, different from my legislative program. Is this an issue of differences in partisanship or is it an issue of differences in perception of the role of the governor as chief executive?
JAMES B. HUNT:
I think it's more of the latter. The real truth is probably ninety percent or ninety-five or ninety-eight percent of what certain cabinet or Council of State departments wanted you, there wasn't any question about. You did not get involved by and large.
JACK FLEER:
You did not get involved.
JAMES B. HUNT:
No, but when it came—let's just take education. The superintendent is elected although the governor appoints the state Board of Education. The budget has got to reflect your priorities. What are your programs? Raise teacher pay to the national average in four years. Yes. That's what mine was for the last term. So that's what I put into the budget. I got the law passed and put into the budget monies that would do that. We went from forty-third to twenty-first in four years. It's amazing. It meant a lot of other things couldn't be done, some other things couldn't be done. Smart Start, that was a big budget item. Some people in human resources would rather have done some other things. Maybe some people in other departments would have preferred we go some other ways.
JACK FLEER:
[Come in.]

Page 28
JAMES B. HUNT:
I'm not sure I've made this clear, Jack, but it was probably easier for me working with people in my own party to develop a closer relationship. But I think it's more a matter of style and determination, and I would not hesitate to take a different position and pursue it aggressively if I thought it was necessary to carry my agenda through. My guess is Jim Holshouser said the same thing. I don't know what he said to you and I'm not asking, but you know he pushed hard for the Coastal Area Management Act. I'm sure plenty of people in some of these other departments including Agriculture didn't like that idea. He pushed for things at DPI that I expect Craig Phillips liked. Whether they were his absolute top priorities or not, I don't know. In other words, he knew what he wanted to do, he ran on it, he pushed hard and he got it. So again, you've got that kind built in tension. The governor has a program, ran on it. People expect him to carry it out. You want to work cooperatively with other people also elected, but in some cases the clear mandate was in the governor's race rather than the Council of State race.
JACK FLEER:
Does the existence of these many departments independently elected weaken the governorship?
JAMES B. HUNT:
A little bit.
JACK FLEER:
A little bit?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Some. Yeah. Some. You could argue in education it is a fairly significant matter. But it doesn't prevent the governor from being effective, especially if he can work out the relationships as I think I did in education, build a team and work on those personal relationships that you have to do any time you're going to have a good team. But, to be honest with you, I think we elect too many people. I think we ought to have a

Page 29
shorter ballot. I don't think the people know who's running and in most cases they don't know what the issues are. But you have to decide what's important, and you can't do everything. [In] most cases, Council of State members feel very strongly that they ought to be independently elected, and it's just not worth the fight.
JACK FLEER:
Let's switch to the lieutenant governors and other persons in the executive department looking at it from an executive standpoint, not the legislative component of that office. You worked or you served I should say with Jimmy Green and Dennis Wicker in two eight year terms each. How would you describe the relationship as executive officials between you and the lieutenant governors?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Well, the relationship grew out of our personal and political relationship. In the case of Jimmy Green, both Democrats, I think I was far more progressive in my views and my policies than he was. Because of that and the fact that we did not have a close personal relationship, I respected him but we were not close. I did not tend to bring him into the executive department. Now in those days, I guess he still had all the legislative powers, appointing committees and he did and so forth. So he didn't need executive jobs to do. He had plenty of power and duties within the legislative branch. Our relationship was such that it was not the closeness that would have encouraged me to have brought him in and make him effective in the executive branch. With Dennis Wicker it was a different matter. By that time the lieutenant governor had lost the legislative power. I think the only thing he then could do was preside and make some appointments which those too were being taken away by the president pro-tem. But I actively worked with Dennis Wicker. I encouraged and lobbied the state community college board to make him their chairman, big job. I appointed him the head of the Small Business Advisory

Page 30
Council, whatever it was called. When we were approaching the child health care situation, I made him head of the committee that studied that and made the report. I'm not sure, it seems there may have been one other area. While he did get to meet with my cabinet and all of that, he wasn't part of the inner circle of my executive branch, executive department, governor's office I should say. I respected him and wanted him utilized effectively in making our state better; therefore, I just in personal ways spoke highly of him and encouraged people to work with him and we had a good team.
JACK FLEER:
Is that, do you think, the nature of that relationship generally or do you think that relationship between the governor and the lieutenant governor within the executive branch can be made more institutionally close?
JAMES B. HUNT:
I think it can be more institutionally close.
JACK FLEER:
And that it should be.
JAMES B. HUNT:
Probably. I don't think it's a life and death decision. But we would probably be better off if they ran on a ticket. Again it's not one of those great big issues facing the state.
JACK FLEER:
It's not something you felt in any way weakened your position to have that as a separate office?
JAMES B. HUNT:
No.
JACK FLEER:
I'm going to switch—

Page 31
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]
JACK FLEER:
Gary Pearce says when he summarizes your first two administrations, or first two terms, he says, ‘Political science textbooks will tell you that North Carolina has a weak governor's office. Jim Hunt proved it does not have to be that way.’ What is your assessment of the power of the office of governor in your experience?
JAMES B. HUNT:
You mean now or when I became governor the first time?
JACK FLEER:
I'd be interested in any change if it's occurred.
JAMES B. HUNT:
I think it was an office with a real limitations when I was first elected, but there was plenty of potential to be effective depending on how effectively the governor translated his mandate into legislation. Two examples that jump out in my mind are Kerr Scott who had a clear mandate to pave roads and take electricity to communities and even though he faced a fairly hostile legislature, they recognized the mandate he had and they went along. Terry Sanford had a clear mandate to bring about quality education in this state and who also faced a somewhat what's the term weary legislature, but because of his powerful mandate and his strong personal leadership and effectiveness with the legislature he got his program through. But during those times we did not have the possibility of succession. We did not have veto. We did have that powerful budget, that budget power that governors have had, and we just had a tradition of high respect for the governor. We did not have a two- party system, an effective two-party system. It was, you know you worked with the leadership to get them to go along and get action to take place. The governorship has always had and does now have the bully pulpit and the stature that it carries which means that people in that position can make friends and have influence and get a lot of cooperation, simply by exerting themselves and asking for it as

Page 32
governor. That's the big factor in getting the legislation through. But in a modern world where there's a strong two-party system, some states have three party systems, the possibility of succession and the veto power, I think, are absolutely essential. They weren't essential twenty-five years ago. They are today and increasingly for the future we see.
JACK FLEER:
Could you talk some about why, it sounds like one of the factors, a major factor, that you think might have brought about this change is the two-party competition unless I'm misinterpreting you. Could you elaborate on that some, why that is such a key factor in making veto and succession essential as you say?
JAMES B. HUNT:
I may have misspoken with regard to succession. As I've told, as I've said to you in an earlier session, I think succession is most important because the governor has time to carry through the complex programs. It takes time to carry through. And that means that we could be switching parties every four years. The veto's a different matter. That's what I meant to speak about a minute ago when I talked about the importance of two-parties. I think, while it is not as clearly seen, when we have a governor and both parties, both houses led by the same party, when we get a governor of a different party from the legislative leadership, that veto is going to be essential for the governor to get cooperation. Jim Martin would have had more; he got some. He got his Highway Trust Fund and did some other things. But veto is going to be very important for the governor to govern, getting his budget through and other items through if he might have a house and legislature different. I had it with one house. I broke my back to get my program through, and I had to do it just by the strength of the office. I had to make use of the bully pulpit. I had to do it by crafting agreements on education and by going out into the

Page 33
counties and showing the popularity of Smart Start, getting those few Republicans to grudgingly to support it. Our opponents were very strong. But especially if you get the whole legislature of one party and the governor of a different party. But even without that it is, it has an effect in the legislature knowing that the Governor's got to be on board. In the final analysis he's got to sign the bill. I think it makes some moderately more inclined to follow his leadership since they know he's a part of them of the process. He's got to ultimately sign for it.
JACK FLEER:
And can share any responsibility as well as any credit?
JAMES B. HUNT:
That's right. So I don't agree with people who said we used to have the weakest governorship. We did not. But it needed to be stronger, and in today's world the problems are so complex and things happen so fast and you need to be able to move so quickly to be competitive and to deal with the problems we have, I think these additional tools are essential.
JACK FLEER:
Now you mention in conjunction with that the importance of the bully pulpit, and you have talked about it in previous sessions that we have had. I talk about it in terms of the governor as a public leader, as a leader of the public, trying to educate and inform and mobilize the people. I want to ask you a few questions about components of that particular responsibility. What was your relationship generally with the print and electronic media as a component of governor, as a public leader?
JAMES B. HUNT:
What was my relationship?
JACK FLEER:
How would you characterize that relationship?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Well, you have to reach the public. Basically you need to go out and have town meetings and I had a ton of them. By the way it was interesting to the media too.

Page 34
JACK FLEER:
What was that?
JAMES B. HUNT:
It was most interesting to the media. It's the way to go directly to the people, but the media likes the reaction. You never know who's going to come and say what. But I understood that it's through the media that we reach the public. I also found that the media frequently spots problems that you don't know are coming or at least you don't know how imminent they are. So I used, I worked, I did things. I had events. I communicated in ways. I did a lot of it as you know. During my first two terms I guess I had a weekly press conference. I later decided that was not the necessary or the best thing to do. So I had more events at which I was trying to get a certain thing done and took questions of different kinds. But the media is the way you reach, it's through the media that you reach the people. The media has the job of searching and probing and trying to find the truth and criticizing when they think that's appropriate on the editorial page. I understood all that. I would get mad when I thought I was unfairly criticized. But I understood how the thing worked. My wife didn't, but I did. By and large I was treated real fairly by the media. That's not the point. The question is, was I able to be effective as governor to get the message out and hear back and pull together support and get people on the team to do big things through the media. That's the way it has to work. I guess there are some ways that if you want to go on line to people directly, but that's still the biggest way you get to them. So I am sure that I used the media more than any governor in history, maybe several times more. I'd have regular meetings and lunches with reporters in my office and plan things that I thought would be covered that called attention to what we were trying to do. I don't, again I'm not sure I'm answering this question well, Jack. The relationship was one of understanding that the media is the way

Page 35
you get to the people. I used it a lot I think successfully by and large. Where we had problems and they jumped all over them and jumped all over me, that was fair game. And I found out the way to deal with it which was true with the DOT situation was not to get into a bunker mentality. You've got problems. The only thing you can do is work them out and then try to show that you've done that. Make changes where changes ought to be made. I fired people on the Board of Transportation. I put in a code of ethics. I fired a cabinet member. I did what I had to do to straighten the thing out. The first responsibility is to the people to do the job right and to have public confidence and do it in such a way that the public has confidence in you.
JACK FLEER:
Do you think it's a fair thing from your perspective as governor for the media to have been as aggressive as they were in that particular case?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Yeah.
JACK FLEER:
You do think so.
JAMES B. HUNT:
Yeah.
JACK FLEER:
They were in fact serving the public by making known those issues—
JAMES B. HUNT:
Yeah.
JACK FLEER:
If not problems.
JAMES B. HUNT:
Yeah. You can say, ‘Well, they didn't present both sides of the bridge in the Wilson County issue.’ But in the whole scheme of things, that's pretty minor. You had some problems. They were in the—. Mr. Williamson on my board who was the guy that old gentleman and just wasn't sensitive to some of the ethics issues and some other decisions that have been made by people. They were, that's their job. You have to understand your job and carry yours through. But you have to understand theirs. You

Page 36
live in a glass house. You ought to have transparency. People need to know what's going on. There are problems they need to know about. If there are problems and you're governor, you've got the job of fixing them. That's what I did.
JACK FLEER:
What about the adequacy of media coverage in the sense that there is an argument today that the media is saying they're not interested in politics or government because the people aren't interested in it. One, do you think that you were able to get the adequacy of coverage, the sufficient coverage of your program in order to get your message out? As you said it's a major means for reaching the people. And two, do you feel that there is a difficulty of competing with other interests out there, the entertainment interests, whatever interests there are out there competing with government and politics that you can do anything about?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Well, the answer to the first question is yes and the answer to the second question is yes and then you wind it up with can you do something about it.
JACK FLEER:
You're saying you did feel the coverage was adequate.
JAMES B. HUNT:
I did feel coverage was adequate in this state, North Carolina, while I was governor. We're a special state. You might say that in Iowa where they have one big population center, the Des Moines Register Tribune is the paper. It's a very, very good one. They are as good. But North Carolina is blessed to have public-spirited newspapers and television stations [that] are pretty good [and] that do believe that covering public affairs is important and put resources into it. They're putting less into it than they used to. The budget is less. But in many places it's changing rapidly. For example last year I don't know if you ever heard this or not, but I was told that in the governor's race in California the first two to three months of the campaign the television stations wouldn't

Page 37
cover it at all. Period. No coverage. You had candidates out there, wealthy candidates who were spending twenty, thirty, forty million dollars of their own money in a primary. They tell you in part that that's the only way to get to the people because there was no free media coverage. The papers were presenting a little bit but not too much; they never showed much interest. It's amazing. Now the second part of your question was, refresh me on that if you would.
JACK FLEER:
That there are these other things that the media is interested in, entertainment whatever else. What can you do as governor to overcome that limitation on media coverage?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Well, you can have events that are attractive for the media to cover. For example, the public is interested in education, but they're really interested in their own schools. You can see this when you can release test scores statewide, and they get a little bit of coverage. Release the local scores and they're the headline on the front page of the local paper. What do you do? You make the stories local. The governor goes to the local community, not to release the test scores, but to talk about them and to ask people what can we do to improve this situation to help our children learn more. You try to in the case of Smart Start. Institutionalize it as a local entity run by the local people. That's what our 501c3's are. That's one of the reasons we set it up that way. It was a reason why I went into schools all over North Carolina. That's because I was interested in finding out what they were doing and how well they were doing it and encouraging them to focus on how we can do it better. We have media in this state that I consider to be pretty responsible. In fact let me go further than that. We have newspapers in North Carolina, the major newspapers of this state that are probably the most public spirited and

Page 38
the most, have the greatest sense of responsibility to cover public affairs of perhaps any state in America. We are very fortunate that we are and I hope that will continue. But it's up to the governor, especially up to the governor, to create and participate in events that will be interesting to the media and that will have some visuals and perhaps an element of drama and things that will make it an interesting story. Why is Bush in a school in Colorado today? That's a good visual. Why's he out in the parks even though he's not much of an environmentalist? But more than that, when you can have things like a town meeting, then it becomes more drama, more dramatic. It's real live stuff especially if you don't limit who comes into the meeting, which I never did.
JACK FLEER:
How important is it—
JAMES B. HUNT:
Part of that by the way is going out there. You can't sit in Raleigh and lead the state successfully. You've got to go out there all over the state of North Carolina
JACK FLEER:
You were assuming the next question, how important is it to be involved directly with the people, not through the media. Obviously you depend on the media. But I haven't finished the calculations on your fourth term. But in your third term you had something like three, four, five hundred events that are documented in the record where you spoke and had press availability. Compared with the '60s and '70s when the average governor, or the governor on average I should say, had about a hundred-twenty, one hundred-fifty of those events. Did you see yourself over those twenty-five years that you were in the governor's office, not continuously but over that period of time, feeling more and more of the need to get out to the people, and if so why?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Yes I did, and more and more the need to get out there with them in situations other than a set speech. In fact I got to the place where I gave speeches but

Page 39
what was really valuable to me was to go out into live situations in schools or a health care situation talking to real people, listening to them, sharing with them and building, pulling people together, especially at town hall meeting. I think you'll find the number of events was far more than what you said although, let's see, fifty-two weeks out of the year that would be [unclear] six a week I guess [unclear] three hundred plus. The campaign year now, I would do two, three or four a day. But yes, I think first of all we have a lot more people. You have to get to them through the media, and then they're more apt to cover things that are local. I think, Jack, that we, I'd have to check on that, but you and I both can remember when we had a press corps in Raleigh with a lot of experience, very knowledgeable, very interested in public affairs. There's less of that now and people tend to cover local things more. So you have to find a way to reach the people and do it in ways that will be interesting and catch their attention. So I think governors today to be successful have to do it in a certain way they can get it, and that means you work harder.
JACK FLEER:
Did you notice a change from the '70s to the '90s in that regard in your own personal experience.
JAMES B. HUNT:
I did in terms of issues. In my first two terms I went and made a lot of speeches. I did things. But I didn't go out there and dramatize the education issues and early childhood centers nearly as much. I pushed kindergartners. I wasn't out there talking about test scores and talking about how we improve teaching and how we have safe schools and things like that. In my last two terms I did a lot more dramatizing, pointing out, highlighting a number of issues to try to get them on the public mind, educating the people about it to get them involved and supporting us.

Page 40
JACK FLEER:
Why do you think that was the case? Why do you think that had to be more so in the '90s than it was in the—?. You said more people and that there are more people out there.
JAMES B. HUNT:
Well, I'm going to try to answer that question. That's a very, that's a very probing question. One, there are so many other things competing for attention. There's all the entertainment, sports and everything. It is harder to cut through and get the people to pay attention to the public issues, public events and affairs and policies. Second, there is a far greater emphasis as I said on local stories. I guess at least with education I think we've learned a lot so we know more about what to talk to people about. For example as governor I couldn't give you the five ways to improve a school. These are the five things you'd have to do. Include technology and that's a sixth one. I didn't know as much about it the first time I was out there. You have to learn. I think the things I've just mentioned to you are some of the reasons why you have to do it that way.
JACK FLEER:
Do you think the two-party system plays a role the more, the greater competitiveness, there's more challenge to the ideas that the governor has to present them?
JAMES B. HUNT:
That is true. That is true. Yeah. Yeah. You and I think you see that here. Democrats, they want to raise taxes. They're going to have to. They've got to make a clear line what it's going for and the people would be better off for it. The governor's going to have to get out there and make that case. But I think the issues are probably more complex. There's a time when we just talked about raise teacher pay and that will do it. Now it's a lot more than that.
Well, Jack I'm afraid I've talked too much and haven't answered all the—.

Page 41
JACK FLEER:
I appreciate all the time you've provided me. I think we've covered a lot of topics.
JAMES B. HUNT:
When do you want to do this again? How much more do you think we have to do?
JACK FLEER:
One or two, I'm not sure about the second. I'll see what I can do.
JAMES B. HUNT:
Well, let's schedule one more and see where we are after that. Okay. Can you reach over there and unplug that there?
JACK FLEER:
Oh I can. Thanks.
END OF INTERVIEW