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Title: Oral History Interview with James B. Hunt, October 3, 2001. Interview C-0332. 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: 156 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, October 3, 2001. Interview C-0332. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series C. Notable North Carolinians. Southern Oral History Program Collection (C-0332)
Author: Jack Fleer
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with James B. Hunt, October 3, 2001. Interview C-0332. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series C. Notable North Carolinians. Southern Oral History Program Collection (C-0332)
Author: James B. Hunt
Description: 217 Mb
Description: 43 p.
Note: Interview conducted on October 3, 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.
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Original grammar and spelling have been preserved.
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Interview with James B. Hunt, October 3, 2001.
Interview C-0332. 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:
This is an interview with Governor James B. Hunt of North Carolina for Wake Forest University and Southern Oral History Program at Chapel Hill. The interview is part of a series of interviews with North Carolina's former governors. The interview was conducted on October 3rd, 2001 at the office of Governor Hunt in Raleigh, North Carolina. The interviewer is Dr. Jack B. Fleer, Department of Political Science, Wake Forest University, tape number 10-03-01JBH. [I do have it the way I want it now. Let's see, it's working and the microphone is good.]
We were talking, Governor, about your public leadership position and some attitudes that you had about that role at the end of our last session. I had two more questions that I wanted to deal with. What do you see as the values or utilities of these appearances that you made hundreds of around the state as far as governing the state?
JAMES B. HUNT:
I think maybe I'd put that in about three categories that are invaluable. I think they are first because as governor you continue to learn and talk and listen and find out what's going on and how people feel. It's very important that you continue to learn and be in touch with the people you're leading. Second, they're invaluable in taking the message out, educating people about complex issues, telling them what they have at stake, why certain courses of action are necessary and what the benefits of them are and what the consequences of not acting would be. So it's that matter of being out there educating, informing, helping the electorate, the people for whom you work understand and developing a commitment to a certain course of action. Third and I kind of got an insight of this more recently actually. It's important that people know and have some connection with their leader, their governor, their President. I think it is important. You can debate this, but I think it's important that you certainly at the state

Page 2
level that you [are] trying to get things done, the governor tries to get things done that people know you as more than a face on television. That doesn't mean you maybe can't get by being just a face on the television, but it's important if you're going to get people to really tie in. I'll give you an example. When I went out as I did so many times and had town meetings about education in schools. Obviously I would talk about our statewide Smart Start initiative. I'd talk about our efforts to raise standards for teachers and raise pay to the national average. I would talk about our accountability system and all that. But I would take it right down to that school, to that county, that city, get people talking about what they were doing, getting them thinking about how they can advance these ideas and move this agenda ahead. Have an interchange with them about things I might suggest to them, here's another way to look at it. Here's what's going on over here in a different county and different school and so forth.
JACK FLEER:
So it's not abstract. It's something that they're working on in their local community.
JAMES B. HUNT:
That's right. But the point I was getting at here is I think people need to know their leaders. They need to feel that they are acting, that they are leading and from seeing that happen, participating in some way with it, I believe that gives people a greater sense of purpose and involvement and more ownership of the democratic process.
JACK FLEER:
So is that a matter of developing sort of a trust that he cares about what our lives are like. He cares.
JAMES B. HUNT:
He cares. He understands. He's talking with us, and we're working on this together.

Page 3
JACK FLEER:
Do you see any disadvantages to spending so much time on these appearances?
JAMES B. HUNT:
No. You've got to do your work. You've got to lead the state. You've got to deal with the legislature; you've got to get your bills through, your programs in place. You've got get the budget in place. You've got to make sure your departments are running well. There are always some problems that come up with that. That's why you need to have a chief of staff. We've talked about that. I concluded that having a strong chief of staff was important to doing your job best. You have to make some choices here. You can either be out there getting these people in all these areas we can see around North Carolina involved in this and doing stuff on their own, doing more than they might otherwise have done and authorizing more leadership here. Or you can just sit here and be kind of a chief executive, just being the heads of things and take your chances on the right stuff happening out there. I thought I needed to be out there leading. I think the results of that approach are clear.
JACK FLEER:
Did you ever get a feeling that—
JAMES B. HUNT:
You have to like it. You have to want to be out there. You have to feel like you're doing good and get good results from it and personally enjoy which I did. You have different kinds of chief executives. Some of them would rather stay in Raleigh. But I think it was a far better approach to leadership to get out with the people and get them engaged and excited and moving and feeling a part of it and being proud to be a part of it.
JACK FLEER:
Did you ever get the feeling that the audiences tended to be people who one, were already committed to some particular viewpoint and therefore were mainly

Page 4
advocates of a particular positions or that they were people maybe who were primarily your supporters and you weren't hearing from other people?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Yeah, there's that danger. There's always the danger that just your people will come although your people are important. They are the people you count on to help you lead. They understand what the commitment is. They know you. They're behind you. There's a great danger that when you go out on issues that just the very vocal people sometimes who are just one way or the other will come out. Sometimes I see these town meetings, these congressional candidates, congressmen have or sometimes the anti-tax people will stack them. They'll stack meetings and how they work. That's why I found that particularly in education which is the biggest issue in the state that going to schools because there you get the students and their parents, the teachers, other personnel, principals and superintendents, the school board, county commissioners. That's a pretty big, these are all people that care about education yes, but they have a lot of different ideas. They are from different parties. I found that to be, you can get things, people do great things around their children. Things they might have otherwise never done. You have to learn as a leader you have to find what will stir people. You know what will stir people about dirty air? Children, asthma, old people that can't go out of the house. You get them thinking about that friend, and they'll do something about cleaning the air. They would've never done it just because ‘the environmentalists’ thought it ought to be done.
JACK FLEER:
Personal, well being, or their family's well-being.
I want to switch to talking about your role as a political party leader and as governor. Was it important to you to be and to be seen as the leader of the Democratic Party when you were governor?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Yes.

Page 5
JACK FLEER:
Could you explain it?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Well, I think our system of government is well served by a strong two-party system. You have a strong two party system. In fact we're better for it. While I say to you that it is important, it is also important that the governor be bigger than just his party. You have to have, develop bipartisan [support]. You have to work with people of different parties. You should try to develop bipartisan support for things when you can. But the fact is you, your party is the group that worked hardest to elect you, support you strongly, believes in you, will go to the wall for you if you're a strong party leader. Now I, of course, came up through the party. My first activities were in Young Democrats. I wrote the state party precinct manual, ‘Rally Around the Precinct’. I canvassed every house in my precinct and got involved with the people and talking with them and so forth. I was state president of Young Democrats and led the first sort of party reform effort in North Carolina which included recommending voting eighteen-year-olds and full participation by minorities and women and so forth. I was maybe the last governor that came along to come up through the party ranks going out and speaking to party organizations in all counties of North Carolina. As I look back on it I think it was a great advantage because I got to go to people out there, where they were. Television and media today is, was very important. You can probably win without going to counties. I don't think you should. I don't think you're as good a governor as if you'd been out. You shouldn't just work out in the across the state, through the party. That shouldn't be the only thing you do. I did agricultural groups and education groups, especially in recent years environmental groups and safety groups and on and on. But your question was about party leadership, and I think it strengthens you a great deal if you're strong in your

Page 6
party. For them to be behind you they have to know you, have worked with you, see their success as yours.
Now but there are limits to that, and I'll give you an example. Parties tend to be one side of the spectrum. There are many people within a party that just want you to be very orthodox, very extreme their way. So moderate Republicans in this state often times aren't appreciated by very conservative, maybe far right of the party. I could always tell in the Democratic Party that my pushing for punishment of criminals, my strong stand on that including support of capital punishment (that) all the liberals in my party, the very most extreme liberals, always felt like I wasn't quite one of them because I wasn't. My closeness to business, my understanding of how you have to make the economy work, working with business and seeing that we had an environment in which they could locate and prosper and provide jobs. That didn't sit well with some people in my party. I know that. There were issues that we had a great deal in common on.
JACK FLEER:
Who were the maybe not naming people but naming positions who were the challengers? Where did the challenge for leadership of the party for you come from, legislative leaders?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Yeah. I don't think the challengers were ever very strong. They came certainly when I was first elected governor. That's when people need to give Mike Easley some running room. I remember how tough it was when I started. Unfairly people kind of compare him to me at the end of sixteen years. But yeah we had some pretty—I'll name one name, but we had a group of people within the legislature that were pretty conservative. I'm talking about Democrats. They didn't want to do a lot of these things. They didn't want to put a lot of money into it. But when I got my Excellence in

Page 7
Schools Act through, when I got my Smart Start program through I, of course, was successful in part because the business leadership supported those issues. They would be impressive to the conservatives of the legislature particularly the Democrats. Now what developed of course later was the Republicans in the legislature were so tightly bound together. It was very hard to get any bipartisan support. I did that on the Excellence in Schools Act. But it got harder and harder. You can see right now with the pledge they signed today. But that's not just on that issue. You had that kind of feel on lots of other issues. So I did have some challenge from conservative leaders in the legislature. I had some challenges to my leadership on public safety issues from Speaker Blue. When I called the special crime session in '94 whenever it was, he and Bob Hensley and Martin Nesbitt and a group of those people strongly opposed many of the bills that I got through. I think I proposed thirty-six bills. Thirty-two of them passed. We had a knock down drag out about getting it through. So I had people sort of on the liberal members of the legislature who were opposing me on crime and public safety issues. I had more conservative people who didn't want to make the big jumps for children and education that I thought were important. Then I had people—I remember Harold Hardison whom I respected and I worked with closely in the early years—boy, he fought environmental legislation tooth and nail as did many others. I had to deal with them getting that Clean Air Act through that we got through two years ago. It was accomplished that was little noted, but an amazing accomplishment to the truth of the fact. So that was where the main, as I said within the party ranks when it came to picking party chairman, state chairmen, things of that sort, there would be grumbles. The governor's trying to run it, but they never amounted to much. People knew my party credentials. They supported me

Page 8
on most issues. They appreciated my active leadership in the party, helping raise money for the party and that sort of thing.
JACK FLEER:
Was selecting party leaders such as the chair of the Democratic Party something that you felt was a very important?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Yes.
JACK FLEER:
So what kind of people were you looking for?
JAMES B. HUNT:
I was looking for people who had obviously a philosophy, but people who would be hard working and who would really focus on building the party at the local level and people who would help the party be strong and support me about issues as governor. My approach was to listen to people, talk to people, think about it and then by some kind of a rough consensus conclude that X was the right person. Then when I concluded that, then I would go back out and call the right people and tell them I wanted to propose so and so as party chairman. Sometimes you'd have some grumbling about it. But people never mounted to my knowledge just to defeat my nominees. Once I decided on them and started forward, I would deal with whatever came along. I was not going to be beaten.
JACK FLEER:
Why was it important then to have these leaders [unclear] during your own time, party chairs? What kind of resources could the party bring to you that you couldn't get through other means?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Well, the party is ultimately, they're the people that help you to win elections. They help the governor win elections. They help his team win elections. They help the people who are supporting his issues like Smart Start and education, environmental protection and so forth get elected. They support your positions in the legislature when

Page 9
you need to have help. They help you develop new leadership obviously something we did not do enough on. They help you keep the party united and strong behind you. You've got enough fights with your opponents, and you really need to have your team strongly behind you, strongly led and of course you need to continue to bring people into it which is something we haven't done well enough. But I saw that as a very important part of my job as governor.
JACK FLEER:
Did you feel that—
JAMES B. HUNT:
An important part of making my success as governor.
JACK FLEER:
Did you feel that when you finished as governor in '84 and again in 2001 or 2000 that the Democratic party was stronger than what it was whenever you started?
JAMES B. HUNT:
I thought it was strong. In '84 obviously we had a Republican elected governor. The toughest year the Democrats had had up to then. You could argue that it was the toughest year. It was kind of like Reagan's smashing victory. It was kind of like FDRs [unclear] modern times. We had strong leadership. We had strong leadership in the majorities in the legislature, council of state, our programs had been put in place. You had the big change in 1994 of course. So I felt like we had strong party leadership, and it was very helpful and it boded well for the future, but all of this time the strength of the parties has been going down. The effectiveness of the parties has been going down.
JACK FLEER:
Parties generally, not just the Democratic Party.
JAMES B. HUNT:
Yeah, parties generally. You continue to have some realignment within North Carolina. Conservative Democrats continued although it slowed down a lot. You had an absolute rush to the Republican Party, and it still continues in many southern states. We stopped that. I think that's one of the things we've been very at least

Page 10
Democrats from our point of view can feel good about. We gave leadership. We were sponsoring programs, putting them into place, progress in education, economic development which I should always talk about, public safety, environmental protection and so on, children, things that appeal to people by and large. They appeal to the majority of the people. Because of that and the fact that most people thought we were kind of on the right track in North Carolina, including most Republicans, you didn't have a great rushing away from the Democratic Party. People continued to feel like its leaders were doing things that they agreed with. So we kept the Democratic Party in contention. South Carolina, Virginia, all around are going Republican, staying Republican. North Carolina has kept a strong Democratic position. But even though that's been strong, the Republicans have continued to get a little higher in terms of numbers and strength, and of course the big thing out there now is the independents. I strongly proposed that the independents be able to vote in the Democratic Party primaries. I am proud we do that. Registered independents or unaffiliated, or whatever it is. People that don't register with one party or the other. So that's how I see that. I think the kind of Republican tide that swept over the South was not as strong in North Carolina, and I think the Democrats mainly because of our leadership in education [unclear] and developing these other issues kept the Democratic Party in a strong position.
JACK FLEER:
North Carolina is one of the few states, there are about ten or eleven that hold their state elections at the same time as presidential elections. Did you generally find that to be beneficial or a burden?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Well, I kind of changed my mind on that over time. I would say that probably maybe into my second term I used to think maybe we ought to change our

Page 11
election date. I didn't ever propose this, but I was kind of growing in my mind. But and of course the Democratic Party was out of favor with a lot of people, a lot of southerners.
JACK FLEER:
The national Democratic Party.
JAMES B. HUNT:
But after Bill Clinton came in, he was more of a moderate and proposed a balanced budget and in favor of capital punishment, in favor of welfare reform and things of that sort, leaving off the stuff that happened at the end in terms of how he was. So the Democratic Party people didn't feel that resentment. They did in '94 and expressed it. There are feelings about him too, by the way, about big government, all this stuff that came out with his health care plans but that then settled down. I haven't seen any polls on this. But my sense was that people began to sort of give the Democrats at least there wasn't a lot of resentment against the party and people didn't see it as these way out liberals who are in favor of stuff we don't like and we won't consider them. So I think, I now believe and I did toward the end of my term that running in a year that the president is not a bad idea. Every party looks at it as how does it benefit us. Certainly it's a time when, in our case, minorities and perhaps women feel pretty strongly about the positions of the national candidates. So I think it kind of cuts both ways. I don't really know what the advantage is now, but I don't see it to be a great disadvantage to the Democratic Party that I used to think it was becoming.
JACK FLEER:
When you ran those four times for governor, you always ran with a southern governor as the Democratic candidate for president?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Well, yeah. Yeah. But I ran for the senate one time when Mondale was.
JACK FLEER:
Right. I was going to ask about him later. Did that make it more beneficial to you? Did you try to tie your candidacy to these presidential—

Page 12
JAMES B. HUNT:
I never tied it to the presidential candidate, but I was able to run with them. We were able to have rallies in which we people had enthusiasm for the Democratic candidate for president. I obviously had the opportunity to compare that to '72 when I ran for lieutenant governor. People didn't want to touch McGovern with a ten-foot pole. I thought he was a great fine man. Many times I was about the only major candidate to go to the rallies.
JACK FLEER:
For McGovern.
JAMES B. HUNT:
Yeah, well go to the Democratic rallies, Democratic Party rallies, and I was uncomfortable because I disagreed with McGovern on so many things. I felt like we went to Vietnam for the right reasons, and we should've tried to prevail there more strongly than we did. I'm a hawk on foreign affairs. But certainly running with southerners in '76 and '80, '92 and '96 made it easier.
JACK FLEER:
So if those circumstances change and they may not change, it could be at least for the foreseeable future the Democratic Party will nominate southern leaders as their presidential candidates. But if that were to change, would that change your opinion about the desirability of these state and presidential elections coinciding.
JAMES B. HUNT:
I don't think so. I think it will depend on the philosophy and the attitude of the candidate. If the Democratic Party actually gets so far out of touch with mainstream North Carolinians and mainstream Americans. They're not very different nowadays. Then obviously the Democrats are going to get as far away from it as they could. But I think the party now is back in the mainstream nationally pretty well. I hope they learn a lesson from flirting with the extreme positions and so forth and the prominence of what I

Page 13
call some of those way out people that came to the Chicago convention that nominated McGovern and things like that. We'll have to see.
JACK FLEER:
Too hypothetical on that.
You alluded earlier to the fact that while you felt the party leadership was a very important part of your job as governor and your ability to be a successful governor, there are also concerns or interests in being the governor of all the people. Where does this partisanship or where did partisanship play the biggest role in your services as governor, being a Democrat was really an important thing?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Well, it plays an important role in your own philosophy. We develop our values, our ideas, our commitments as we come along, and party involvement can help young people understand what kinds of public policies you should have if you're going to do certain things. If you're mainly concerned about holding taxes down and keeping the government as small and as ineffective as you can, then you have one set of values sort of like I guess the libertarians do. If you believe that government can do certain things and should give people an equal and full opportunity in life, you say that different things are important. A perfect example right now when people realize that Ronald Reagan was wrong, and government is not the enemy. He said it. People kind of went along with it. That became the type of thinking for decades. Government is the enemy. I was there when he said it. I told you that earlier. So the party is important in helping you kind of have a scheme, an approach to public affairs and what you do. But let me go on to say to you that throughout my career in public service while I continued to be a strong Democrat, I believed in the party and supported the party and was active in it. I became more and more—and I've probably said to you this in earlier sessions—I came more and more to want to identify with people that I believed, with whom I agreed in terms of

Page 14
what needed to be done. I now want to find the people who want to help children in those earliest years get a smart start wherever I find them, and I want to make common cause with them and work with them. The same thing in terms of public schools including the very important matter of standards and accountability and assessing. I strongly disagree with many people in my party that don't think you ought to test kids. So I would make common cause with many Republicans on that issue. But many Democrats understand you have to do that, too. Bush proposed it. So I just think that and unfortunately I think being too party bound is a mistake. It means you can't consider other approaches. It's a mistake that I think the Republicans are making right now in North Carolina. You're writing about the past, but it may have some short term benefits. But I think people ought to have a chance to vote their conscience, vote their mind. I believe these rules in the house that make it impossible for the majority to prevail or even be heard. I think they're wrong. I think they're undemocratic and they're wrong. They're not fair. I think excessive partisanship can become a real problem. It's something we have to be aware of and deal with.
JACK FLEER:
In terms of policy issues, the national Democratic Party had certain platform positions. Even the state Democratic Party had certain platform positions. Could you name any times when you found yourself in disagreement with those and believed they were not the positions that were best for the state of North Carolina.
JAMES B. HUNT:
I can't remember exactly, but I always considered party platforms to be things that have some value. But to be honest with you the more extreme elements of the party generally write the platforms. Some of them would rather write the platform than win an election. So I always found a number of provisions in my party platform that I

Page 15
didn't agree with. Gosh the other party has a lot of positions that their moderate members would not agree with. Of course after a while you kind of realize people don't pay any attention to them anyhow. But there was a time that the Democrats were really hurt by the image that they were so far out liberal and not in touch with common people and not sharing values with the average man. My party probably never agreed with me on capital punishment and some of the tough measures I thought it would take to be certain we [unclear] . I tried to get my party to favor some things that I couldn't get them to favor. Things like I guess at times they didn't support veto and succession and things like that. But a lot of people do want to support them. So that's I always found the party platforms to be a real, should say political problem. People wanted to have them [unclear] I've given leadership to the Democratic Party nationally.
JACK FLEER:
I knew that you had worked on some.
JAMES B. HUNT:
[unclear] this past time. I was asked to do that because they knew me as a moderate and they thought I could successfully navigate those shoals and come out with a document that was mainstream as opposed to one the extremists had kind of gotten their planks in and which would upset average Americans. Party platforms became something that you had to try to manage and minimize the damage coming from them.
JACK FLEER:
You'd mentioned earlier that you felt one of the problems with the Democratic Party was the inadequacy of perpetuating leadership in the party or finding successors. What was your orientation toward a governor having influence on who his successor would be at least within the party?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Well, I always stayed away from that. Maybe it was a mistake. I don't know for sure that I did the right thing. I obviously was a strong leader and pushed very hard to

Page 16
get my programs through and appreciated the help I got from folks and tried to return that and to reciprocate. But I never felt like as governor that I should try to pick my successor. In 1984 the person who I had been closest to throughout my life was Eddie Knox. Without getting into how I voted, my family and I felt very kindly toward his candidacy. But he wanted me to endorse him and put him in. I didn't think it was the right thing to do. I thought the party ought to have a chance to pick its own candidate. I think that's the main reason why he bolted and endorsed Jesse Helms in the Senate race. Of course, as it turned out, I thought lost a marvelous opportunity to have a future chance to be governor in the Democratic Party. But that's the way I've always felt. Sometimes your friends get upset with you. I didn't endorse anybody in the race to succeed me in 2000. A lot of my good friends were working with Dennis Wicker thought I hadn't done the right thing. But I think it was basically the right thing. That isn't going to limit me in the future. I'm not governor. I obviously can get involved with who I chose to. But that was my attitude. I'm sure some people didn't believe that was true, but it was true.
JACK FLEER:
What about leadership other than candidates for governor? How did you contribute to developing a broader leadership within the Democratic Party?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Well, I did it by trying to spot people who had talent, who were progressive in their philosophy and approach, pro education, pro economic development. I did it by encouraging the Young Democrats [unclear] people who come out of there. Trying to spot young leaders who were working at the local level, in county government, city government, encouraging people to run for the legislature. I would regularly call and encourage what I thought were good candidates to run. I promised to help raise money and to come and speak for them and things of that sort. I was always very active in trying

Page 17
to elect my team especially for the legislature, programs had to go through. I would have the Democratic Party and my own staff, my own personal campaign staff have workshops for candidates try to help them obviously understand what my programs were and see how they could benefit by advocating for these and learn campaign techniques and that sort of thing. We would all like to I'm sure do a better job of encouraging, and I would find people who were issue-oriented whether or not they'd ever been involved in my party. If they were really strong in education maybe somebody that comes out as a school superintendent.

Page 18
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
JACK FLEER:
Governor, during your service in the office of governor the formal authority and powers of the office changed rather significantly. You had right of succession, veto power, enhanced budget power. Do you feel that these have strengthened the office in measurable ways?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Yes. In several ways, first of all a governor has the possibility of serving two terms. If he does in fact serve two terms, he learns an awful lot about the job. I don't think there's any question about that. In my second term in my first go around, I learned more about it. I was able to be effective. Coming back for me was an unusual situation. I don't know if that will ever happen again or not. I've done four terms. I'd do even more. I was more effective than I was the first time. So you learn more how to do it successfully. With the possibility that you'll run again people are more apt to stay on the team. You don't become a lame duck the first time. You're more able to press forward, have the continuity in programs. My last two terms we implemented Smart Start. It took us several years to do it. We phased in the funding. We couldn't jump to two or three hundred thousand dollars, millions dollars a year all at once. So succession means that people are more apt to stay on your team, know that you can be there longer, stay committed to both you and the carrying through of your program. It's all about your ability to lead and to make things happen and to help people. These are just tools. The veto is I think quite important. We haven't seen it used yet. I never used it, and Mike Easley has not thus far. But both of us have made it very clear that we would if necessary. I think this budget passed last week in large measure because Easley said I will not sign another—

Page 19
JACK FLEER:
Extension.
JAMES B. HUNT:
Extension. Whatever you call it. Continuing funding bill. He wouldn't do it. That would've never happened before. The governor just had to bend to the will of the legislature. On many occasions where environmental laws were being threatened. Here I'm talking to low again which I've never been accused of doing much—environmental laws were being threatened, when people were not willing to [do] the right thing on the budget, I made it very clear that I would use the veto. I always said it in a very understated way. I tried not to ever make it a threat. But it was understood. People knew that I would do it, and they know that Easley will do it and governors in the future. Governors in the future will veto things. That will make the legislature more responsible, and it will make positions clearer. I think both of those are sort of powers, tools that made the governor more effective, and I worked hard to get them in place, and I think it was the right thing to do.
JACK FLEER:
Are there other changes having served as governor for sixteen years that you would consider or think the state should consider?
JAMES B. HUNT:
I think, yes, I think the state ought to consider having some of the council of state positions appointed. For a long time I pushed hard to have the superintendent be chosen by the state board of education. I finally gave up on that because I just didn't think it was going to happen. I saw how the people were feeling about giving up any of their right to vote. They were strongly opposed to it. This was I think in large measure because of their suspicion of government and not wanting to give up any of their powers. I feel very strongly that we ought to change the way we select judges. I think they ought to be perhaps panels nominated by knowledgeable and responsible people but appointed

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by the governor. Let them have a chance to stand for re-election or for another term without. I think the election of judges has become a very unfortunate thing where money is too important. I think it is denying justice and politicizing the position of judge to a certain extent.
JACK FLEER:
Now as governor you appointed a lot of judges.
JAMES B. HUNT:
I sure did. I did appoint a lot of judges. These were where new judgeships were created and where people resigned. I think that if you go through and look at my appointees as judges you will find that they have really been an outstanding group, very knowledgeable. And if you look at district court judges today, you will find people who are far more committed to trying to help young people avoid a life of crime and conquer [unclear] and so forth and things I really stressed. Of course I always stressed judges who would be tough on crime and tough on criminals. You've got two things. I want to be tough on crime, but second I want to help kids. Some people are one or the other but not both. So those are things that I would like to see changed, but in politics you have to be realistic. When you finally conclude, you keep seeing these polls that say eighty percent of the people want to keep voting for their superintendent of public instruction, it's time to run another rabbit.
JACK FLEER:
What about budget powers? Are there any changes in the budget powers that you think ought to be considered?
JAMES B. HUNT:
The governor ought to be given more budget powers, more flexibility, so he can deal with situations. Now we have some of that and Governor Easley just used some of that, but we ought to have more. The legislature started taking that away from the governor back probably in my second term. One place where that really came to bear

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was when we would need to be recruiting industry, and we always need to, to bring new jobs because you always have jobs leaving particularly in textiles. We would maybe run out of money to be able to commit for worker training or things of that sort. If we didn't have flexibility to move some more money to take it from this area and put it into this area where we needed it for jobs, then we'd just stop getting them. So I think the governor does need more budgetary [flexibility]. He needs more flexibility in how to handle the budget. We kind of reverse that a little bit. The governor had a lot of power. Then a lot of it was taken back. Then I think it started back toward giving the governor the kind of flexibility that he needs. But I think more needs to be done.
JACK FLEER:
Are there any other areas where you think the governor's powers should be altered? This is the formal part of it. I know there's a whole informal side of it.
JAMES B. HUNT:
Yes, there is. That has to do with regulations, rule making. The governor and his administration ought to have the power to enact rules reasonably quickly. Obviously following the rulemaking process with notice and opportunity for a hearing and all that. But the legislature now has put us into a straightjacket. It applies to environmental rules in particular whereby you can't make a rule. This is not to carry out public policy without having the effect of it weighing into the, I think it's the last legislature of a two-year session. Jack, you'll need to research this a little bit. I don't want to be incorrect in how I'm stating this, but you've probably followed this issue. I think the Winston-Salem Journal has written on it a lot with regard to environmental legislation. It's become very hard to protect our environment because interests that would and they don't mean to they aren't evil interests at all, but they would dirty the air and foul the waters trying to obviously operate industry or providing power in a way that will be profitable. But we

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need to be able to implement policies through appropriate rules and do it quickly and do it without having to wait two years to do it. Research on that and write something on that. Research how that thing is working right now. I had to fight like the dickens to keep what powers we do have. They tried to take even more of that power away in the last legislature. We prevented it, but it was very tough, and we didn't begin to roll back the very time consuming situation we now have. I think the rule is if you're going to make a rule, the legislature has to have a chance to consider it and change it.
JACK FLEER:
Almost like a legislative veto.
JAMES B. HUNT:
That's right. Kind of like a legislative veto. That's a good way to describe it. That ought to be changed and in particular so that we can preserve the environment of North Carolina for future generations.
JACK FLEER:
Do you think the problem is the existence of a, let's call it legislative veto, or is the problem the delay in getting the thing to where you can implement it?
JAMES B. HUNT:
It's both.
JACK FLEER:
It's both. So you believe the legislature once they've enacted a law and given the governor the authority to make regulations should not have an opportunity to review that.
JAMES B. HUNT:
That's right. They'll have the opportunity to challenge it of course.
JACK FLEER:
New legislation.
JAMES B. HUNT:
Yeah or they can always challenge it in court. But you can't wait two years when your water is becoming dirty and a danger to human health or air is. You can't wait, and you've got a public policy that says clean it up. You can't wait two years before you can act to make those things happen.

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JACK FLEER:
Governor, how influential were you and can a governor be in shaping his own administration? How much in control were you?
JAMES B. HUNT:
I think you're in control a great deal, and I think I was. You have to have a strong staff and team in the governor's office. You have to pick members of your cabinet who share your commitment, who are effective leaders themselves. They have to be loyal to you and be on the team and stay on the team, not let their own personal ambitions get in the way of what the people elected the governor to do. You have to work at it day and night. You don't just put them in place and let them run. That's why I had cabinet meetings once a week. I kept that focus. I don't know if you've ever seen that agenda. It was on my boards. I kept [it] in front of them all the time. They can tell it to you in their sleep. The joke was in my first I guess my third term that I made everybody carry [the agenda] on the inside pocket of their coat. Some people said they had to sleep with it in their pajamas. Well—
JACK FLEER:
However it happened.
JAMES B. HUNT:
The point was they knew what the agenda was. They knew what was on it and what wasn't. If they were going to pursue something that wasn't on it, they really had to justify it. We changed it some over time, but that is something you have to work on every day is to keep your own team on board that committed to the things you were elected to do, that you promised to do and help you do them. You'd have to have, you need a secretary of transportation who would help you on your Smart Start bill. You've got all these people on board. They can all help you back out where they come from. They can help influence legislators votes. They can serve on the partnership for children committees in their counties, give it stature and help moving it forward. That's one thing

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I feel best about in my terms was my teams and the strength of them, the unity of them, the hard work of them in getting our programs adopted. I think that's one of the good reasons why we got it done.
JACK FLEER:
What were the major obstacles to a governor's ability to shape his administration?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Well, there's always the reluctance to change. The bureaucracy doesn't want to change. They are, they don't like to take risks, and frankly the system is adverse to risk taking. State employees, rank and file state employees, just don't want to do it, don't want to be cooperative. You're dangerous to them and taking the risk of changing. Used to be it was hard to do it because you didn't have succession. They thought they'd just wait you out. It's hard work. You have to work at it day and night. Just the personal energy and effort that you have to make is an obstacle in some cases. A lot of people and of course it's awfully easy to lose sight of what you were elected to do, lose focus because new things come up, and you have to deal with new things. Gosh you've got some cartoons up here about the flood. Nobody ever knew that was coming along. But you have to deal with it and we did. I think I'd add one more. I believe in an earlier conversation we touched on this, it's awfully easy for members of your own team, members of your own cabinet, members of your own administration to begin to think that they'll substitute their agenda for yours. I had some people who did some of that, not a great deal. There's always that tendency there. I'm an expert in this area; I spent my life in it; I know more about it than the governor does. He may have been elected by so and so but I'm in here now, and I'm going to push so and so. You have to deal with that delicately. These are good people. Many times they are true experts outstanding leaders

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in their own right. You respect that, and you appreciate those strengths, but they have to stay on your team, play on your team. It's not, they didn't get elected governor. You really have to keep making that clear, keep pulling them back in, and one of the keys to that is to keep a close connection, in other words to talk regularly. The other key to that is to have your own people on their staff, a cabinet secretary has a deputy that the governor approved. It might have been the secretary's original suggestion, but the governor approved it. The cabinet secretary has a public information officer that the governor approved, a legislative officer that the governor approved. It's still all the governor's team. You see. So that's the way we did it. Again we, you just have to constantly keep your own team focused and then get them working out there regularly and working along side you. That's one of the reasons why I like to go out and do things with my cabinet officers. David Bruton and I went all over the state trying to get the Child Health Care plan approved including to Winston-Salem. That built our team and built our relationship. You need to constantly work with your people.
JACK FLEER:
Did you have to remind them that they were there because you got elected, or did they, or were they reminding each other?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Well, they did some reminding, and you do this very carefully. You respect them. You appreciate them but and the way you do that, you don't have to remind them that you were the one elected and they weren't. You remind them about what we ran on, we, the team. Here's what we ran on. Here's what the people elected us to do. That's the approach we used. I've got my copies of my agenda for action, my report to the people and all that stuff. That's without precedent Jack in North Carolina, maybe in America. I don't believe anybody ever laid out as clearly exactly what you were running to do, what

Page 26
you did do this year, next year, four years, at the end of four years, at the end of eight years as we did. But it was really I found it so helpful to write it down and to constantly focus on it, have cabinet meetings that are about it, have working groups that work together to advance those things.
JACK FLEER:
It was a discipline in itself for you as well as for the team.
JAMES B. HUNT:
That's right.
JACK FLEER:
In talking about your relationship with the North Carolina General Assembly, with the legislature and reflecting on your work as governor with it. What do you think are the key components with it? What makes it work effectively for our governor?
JAMES B. HUNT:
One is having an attitude of respect and appreciation for legislators and their leadership. I pushed hard. But they knew I respected them and appreciated them because I did a lot of things to show them including campaigning with them, working with them on their issues. I made speeches for them, considered their suggestions for positions on boards and commissions and thing of that sort, an attitude of respect and understanding how the system works. They make the laws. They pass the budgets. The governor can't pass anything. Second being very clear about what you're proposing and conveying that to them and trying to get them to come aboard and share the ownership of this with you, to be a part of a team to make it happen. A lot of governors think just because they're for it even if maybe they ran on it, but you've still got to sell your legislature. They may not have run on it at least initially. I ran on Smart Start, but nobody else did in 1992, but they did afterward. That requires an enormous amount of work. Then I would say the other big thing is and included in that is making very clear to them how strongly you feel and that the people did vote for this. There will be real consequences if they didn't carry out

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what the people wanted. I don't have to say too much. You can read between the lines on that. But you have to sell that too. But I always felt like positive leadership. I never could get anything through just by threatening somebody. I would get right tough with pushing folks, but only after I tried everything else in the world. They'd heard from their people back home that they had every reason to know it was the right thing to do. People, their people wanted it done. Then I guess the final thing I would say is getting other people to weigh in on these things. A perfect example I think would be, I could list a lot of them. Gosh, I had, you could look at this wall and see some of the things. I had a special session on crime one time, and I had the cops here and the sheriffs here and the people whose kids have been murdered and things of that sort pushing for action. They sensed, ‘Hey, the people want this. I'm hearing from these folks.’ We did the same thing with children. We did the same thing on issues for improving teaching in North Carolina. We did the same thing when we needed to respond to the flood. I had a special session of the legislature. We worked hard to get ready for it. It was three quarters of a million dollars for that to help people, and they heard from the folks back home. The governor needs to make sure the legislature hears from the people and hears from a cross section of people not just special interests that have a particular view. I think all of those things. If I thought about this a long time I might come up with some others. I think those are some of the main ones.
JACK FLEER:
What did you try to avoid. What does not work in trying to influence the legislature?
JAMES B. HUNT:
What does not work is first of all not being clear. It's the obverse of what I've just told you. Being murky about what you intend to do. In fact it doesn't work if

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you don't have clear things laid out in your campaign. To come in and say what did the people want? Well they elected me. Well what did they elect you to do? Just anything you want to, no. You should have run a campaign that was disciplined and was focused and it was about this, this, this and this and the people said yes or no. If they say no, then that's a message. You don't get elected. If they say yes, you ought to know what they elected you to do. Then laying that out and keeping that in people's mind and really highlighting those things as you go along. What does not work is thinking that just because you're governor the legislature is going to automatically do what you want. You have to work it out every single day. What does not work is trying to force things through without convincing people it's the right thing to do. I was very successful in getting my bills throughout my four terms, but about ninety to ninety-five percent of that success was because I explained it. I explained how it would affect their people back home, how their people would respond to it. I got their people to talk to them about it, not because I tried to threaten them in some way or overpower them or anything of that sort. Sure, I would twist an arm or two now and again, some people thought maybe too much, but it was only after I had used the other approach and they needed just a little extra pushing. So those things don't work, but the main thing is just hard work.
JACK FLEER:
Overall how would you characterize your attitude toward the General Assembly? Is the General Assembly equal to the governor, superior to the governor, inferior to the governor?
JAMES B. HUNT:
I don't know how you answer that question. They're separate from the governor. They have a constitutional responsibility of passing laws and passing a budget, and they have the responsibility to do oversight. It's an appropriate responsibility. It's

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not to administer. It's not to run it. Those things get confused from time to time. But that's how and again, Jack, I've said this before. I had and do have the greatest respect for legislators and for their leadership. I spent a ton of time working with the legislative leadership, president pro-tem of the senate. There's a little funny cartoon up here. You probably wouldn't see this, but here's Marc Basnight and here I am the genie out of the bottle. [unclear] that's all for today, thanks. Speaker Black, my gosh what can I say. Let me think. I believe I did forty fundraisers for his candidates in '98 and in the year 2000 I did about the same amount. I did three fundraisers for Jim Phillips. Jimmy's daddy in his senate race, three, he won the senate race. Nobody's ever done that before. But you have to, you're partners. They're equal partners if you want to look at it that way. They're different. The governor proposes, now has the veto of course, but they have to adopt the budget, and they have to pass the law. I probably consider them to be pretty much equal partners.
JACK FLEER:
Do you think that the legislative power in North Carolina is, the legislature has too much power, not powerful enough?
JAMES B. HUNT:
I think it's powerful enough. I think the rulemaking issue that I mentioned to you earlier is one we ought to change. Other than that it works pretty well.
JACK FLEER:
You had several different persons who served as legislative liaison for you during your four terms. What were the key characteristics that you were looking for in those people?
JAMES B. HUNT:
I was looking for people who were totally committed to my program. People who were intelligent, persuasive, and well-regarded by the legislature, well-liked, people who could carry a very clear message, people who would work hard being with the

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legislators and helping them in any way they could. In other words people who would develop a relationship with the legislators so that they liked them and wanted to work with them and wanted to share with them and wanted to team build with us. I just said this but people who worked day and night like I did. Every night I'd have the calls that I needed to make to legislators to get my program through, but I would expect them to necessarily where a group of legislators was meeting or having dinner or something like that. Whatever contacts that had to be made, they had to be made; they had to be made timely. If I had to make a dozen calls that night, I'd make them. I never left one undone. They joked with me, some of them joked about me calling them at ten, eleven, twelve or one. Zeb Alley was down here joking with me last week when I was honored by multiple sclerosis. He was talking about how he had Zeb Alley and Billy Watkins, I mean he had Ken Royall and Billy Watkins and all that crowd over and about two o'clock one morning at his house over here. They'd all had a few drinks, more than a few, and they all got together and called me up at two a.m. to teach me a little lesson.
JACK FLEER:
Paying you back.
JAMES B. HUNT:
The legislative counsel can only be as effective as the governor is standing behind him, being available, pushing, supporting him, but it is a very, very important position. I picked it very carefully and was very fortunate to have some great people doing it.
JACK FLEER:
Would you say it would be among the top two or three most important appointments you made?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Yes.

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JACK FLEER:
Governor, looking back over your sixteen years as governor, what do you see as the legacy of the Hunt administration?
JAMES B. HUNT:
I think the main legacy would be education. It would be a focus on early childhood, Smart Start, kindergartens, primary reading programs, full-time assistants to help the teachers in grades one, two and three. The roles of some of them have changed but the major emphasis on the early years. I think I told you that I had the chap from the Rand Corporation in; David Griswold is that his name. What's his name, Jack?
JACK FLEER:
I don't know.
JAMES B. HUNT:
We were talking about the NAEP scores were coming up in the next couple of weeks, and of course you know an exceptional thing was happening with regard to that. Pretty amazing. Did I give you a copy of those latest NAEP scores?
JACK FLEER:
No. I haven't seen them. Let me turn this thing off.
JAMES B. HUNT:
Everybody was amazed at them. I called the guy at NGA yesterday, the day before, and he had just said he couldn't believe it. He said, ‘You're approaching the state of Connecticut almost.’ Connecticut's number one on everything. But the fellow from the Rand Corporation, which analyzes these things, said he thought the reason we were making such astounding progress was because of our focus on the early years. Now that story will be fully written yet, but so I would say education, early childhood, improving and stressing better teaching, support for teachers, putting in standards and accountabiliity, focusing on community involvement, mentoring and things of that sort. I think that will be the big, I think economic development will be. Putting in the microelectronic center, putting in the biotechnology center, establishing the Centennial Campus at North Carolina State University. Those are, that will move North Carolina into a new kind of

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economy. We've got additional challenges along those lines. The School of Science and Mathematics goes right along with that with its emphasis on science and technology. Toward the end I think we were making a real mark in environmental protection. That's not going to be the big chapter I'm sure in my record. Public protection was a lot of work but that certainly will not get written up as a—. I would say what I call government reform, the additional powers of the governor that you mentioned, abolishing the patronage office in the governor's office, strengthening government ethics. You know we had our little problem in the transportation department, but out of it we sort of changed the system. I think those will be some of the things.
JACK FLEER:
Let me explore one of those in particular because you've mentioned it in an earlier session. You said you'd abolished the patronage office. I understand that to be the case. But there will still be appointments maybe influenced by political party considerations. So are you saying that's not going to occur.
JAMES B. HUNT:
There will be some. People will always find a way to kind of enter the process. There is not now and I doubt there will be again an office in the governor's office where they specifically call over to departments and recommend people, and we have reduced the number of exempt positions now to about a hundred. It used to be five or seven hundred that we used to have doing it.
JACK FLEER:
Is that real change or is that superficial change?
JAMES B. HUNT:
You ask the people out there in the counties if that's real change. It is real change. It cuts both ways to be honest. The bureaucrats know how to work the system. This gives them a chance to decide whom they want, and they have their own buddies too. Sometimes and they may be a little less responsive to the governor's leadership. I didn't

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think the patronage system was so terrible, but it got a bad name; it was abused some. It was the right thing to do to change that. Kind of like I guess putting in the civil service system, you could argue that both ways. Probably on balance it was right.
JACK FLEER:
Governor, given sixteen years of service in the office, what are the most difficult types of decisions that you had to make as governor?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Well, sort of tactically speaking the most difficult decisions were how to get your program enacted. That became particularly the case when you had Republicans take control of the legislature in '94. Do you do it by just appealing, trying to get people to understand, trying to see people, talk to people? I'd got out having visits [to] Smart Start across North Carolina, and I'd try my best to get the Republicans to come. They wouldn't ever show. Two or three of them came. Most of them refused to come. They wouldn't be seen with me. They didn't want to hear a word about the good points of the program from their own people. Totally closed minded about it, many of them. There were exceptions. Representative Holmes came when I went up to Wilkes County and Yadkin County. Representative Gene up in Salisbury came. Some of them did come, but many of them are just hard core opponents to this kind of thing. Finding out, you know one year they didn't pass the budget and what I had decided to do. What do you do about that now? How do you bring them back in and get a budget? Well, what I did was I went out on the road and took a stick to them. I went out and spoke to state employees who hadn't had a raise and teachers who hadn't had a raise and didn't have—. Here was school starting, and they had more kids that were coming to school, and they didn't have teachers to teach them. I went out as Harry Truman said and told them the truth about them. But trying to figure out how to deal with that. Bring them over here for almost a

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twelve-hour session without interruption at the library of the legislature about '97 or '98, whatever year that was when they couldn't pass a budget. It was the hard right crowd running rampant over everything. [Thank you, Sheila.] Trying to figure out how to get things done, how to get that special crime session where Speaker Blue and his lieutenants were sitting on my bills and wouldn't even have committee meetings to take them up. Trying to figure out how to break that impasse. Of course a lot of this happened back when we didn't have the veto. How tactically—

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[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]
JAMES B. HUNT:
The story of the falls up at the DuPont Forest. I guess you followed that story. The falls, the waterfalls of the (last of the Mohicans) are on the property that we had the state condemn and secure for the people of North Carolina. A lot of people felt like it was overreaching, an improper use of state power. A lot of the legislators up there opposed it. They didn't want us to do it. Tried to reach a settlement with the guy. Couldn't ever do it. Finally, didn't have any money to buy it with. Finally you just said this is such invaluable precious property that the people must have it, and you've got to protect the water. So I made a decision to do it. Most people counseled against it. I thought it was the right thing to do, and I'm certain history will bear that out. Thank goodness Marc Basnight had created the Clean Water Trust Fund. They were the only place that had any money after the flood and all that you know. Decisions about capital punishment are always tough, got tougher and tougher and taken more of my time. I would generally spend two or three days, eight hours days going into all of that.
JACK FLEER:
What was important to you in those decisions because other governors have mentioned that that is among the most difficult decisions? How did you go about doing that?
JAMES B. HUNT:
First of all I did a very careful research on those cases. I read the transcripts from court. I received information from both sides. I heard from both sides. I spent hours and hours sometimes, whole days to both sides of the issue. I remember going back to the Wilmington Ten. Do you remember that case?
JACK FLEER:
I do.
JAMES B. HUNT:
Back when I was first governor.

Page 36
JACK FLEER:
One of your very difficult early decisions.
JAMES B. HUNT:
I bet you I spent months on that case. You still have to do your day work. You'd spend the night reading that stuff and just received comments and checking things out. The one grandmother that had given arsenic to five husbands. Do you remember that?
JACK FLEER:
In the Burlington area.
JAMES B. HUNT:
Billy Graham's wife wrote me on that one.
JACK FLEER:
Billy Graham's wife?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Wife, Mrs. Graham who I think very highly of. You have to do a lot of research about what are the effects of drugs on people about their state of mind and all those things. You really have to learn a lot about how this stuff works. Then you have to find out about what went on at the trial. A lot of that is not apparent just from the record. You have to do a lot of probing and a lot of questioning and send your legal counsel out to ask questions and to determine things. So that was another tough set of—
JACK FLEER:
I believe the record shows that you did not grant clemency until actually your last couple of decisions in this area. Was that a change in philosophy?
JAMES B. HUNT:
No, it was not. I found a case where there were several defendants. One of them got the death penalty, and the others who had been involved in the same stuff got life, and I concluded it was unfair. So I commuted his sentence to life. The other was a case in which I just found that there had not been effective representation of the defendant. There was some indication that the jury might have been hung, in fact had been in the first trial, and I always looked very hard at the procedural things. Is there

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evidence of guilt? Is there sufficient evidence. Was the trial done fairly? So that's what happened in the other case.
JACK FLEER:
And you hadn't found any evidence of unfair procedures prior to two years ago?
JAMES B. HUNT:
No, prior to what?
JACK FLEER:
Well, I think these two cases were in the last two years. Excuse me.
JAMES B. HUNT:
Well, no. No. Not I mean there are always some things that are maybe a little questionable but clear unfairness or ineffective counsel [unclear] .
JACK FLEER:
Talking about the most difficult, what are the most satisfying decisions? What are you most pleased with that you did?
JAMES B. HUNT:
I guess the things we did in education were most pleasing. The creation of Smart Start, back in my lieutenant governor days creating public school kindergartens, improving teaching dramatically and teacher pay up to right at the national average. We may miss it by a few dollars. Putting in standards of accountability. Generally building up the moral and the attitude in education and educators. Building North Carolina's economy was very, very satisfying. Helping us literally move from the old traditional economy of tobacco, textiles and furniture to a new economy that is based largely on technology and science, strong in the fields of microelectronics, medicine and biotechnology now and information technology and all that. Seeing North Carolina emerge as one of the nation's leaders in those areas. Banking, of course, which I helped give our banks an advantage. You've heard this story, I'll tell you this story of Bob Graham when he called about my second term as governor. He was president—
JACK FLEER:
This is a senator or former governor.

Page 38
JAMES B. HUNT:
Yeah, was governor, why don't we use the precedent of the Southern Growth Policies Board which Terry Sanford had started. He said, ‘Jim, why don't we have a Southern Region Interstate Banking Compact.’ He said, ‘What do you think of that?’ I said, ‘Well, let me check with a few people.’ I checked with what is now Bank America and First Union and Wachovia and all my guys said we think it's great.
JACK FLEER:
They thought it was great.
JAMES B. HUNT:
Yeah. North Carolina banks have taken over all those Florida banks.
JACK FLEER:
They saw an opportunity.
JAMES B. HUNT:
That's right. To see that develop and then as I said some of the most pleasing things have been some of the initiatives we've taken on the environment especially things that are leading towards our billion acres of additional green space. We have big new vast park land areas come in and areas were they have committed to not overdevelop and keep the green space. That has been very, very satisfying to me. Things like bringing the red wolves back to eastern North Carolina. We have elk in the Great Smokies. These are things I pushed for. So a lot of environmental things. And this goes back to lieutenant governor, but pushing very hard to have the Coastal Area Management Act put into place. We have to keep working on it. People keep trying to chip away at it. They'll undo all these things if you let them. Things like keeping the cities strong. We had a time back here six or eight years ago where they were trying to take away the powers to annex and other things that kept our cities strong as compared to what has happened in other states. I just put my foot down and absolutely fought those interests. They were trying to eviscerate the cities of North Carolina and make it impossible for them to be able grow and deal with their problems and have a tax base that was adequate.

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JACK FLEER:
When you were, I'm going to take you back to January of 1973, excuse me 1977 when you were inaugurated as governor. Can you recall what you were thinking about during that inauguration taking that oath?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Yeah, I gave about a four and a half-minute speech that I wrote. The essence of it was that there are limits to the government's powers but there are no limits to what the people can do. I wanted the people of North Carolina to really be committed, involved and participate in things we needed to do for our state. We had slipped to last in SAT scores, last in infant mortality or highest in infant mortality, a lot of things had, excuse me. That happened in 19—, I ran for re-election in '92. In 1977 right after my first election we had done some good things under Holshouser, which I had supported as lieutenant governor, but we needed to keep moving. I proposed a set of things that we needed to do. We needed to make sure every child learned to read. Bush talked about it now, but North Carolina's is much further along than most states are. I had been active in helping to bring about school reform, but I wanted it carried to a new height. I had been talking about environmental things, protecting the environment. I had a Lieutenant Governor's Commission on Law and Order. We established the Department of Crime Control and Public Safety. I had all these issues in mind as I always have, but I wanted to mobilize, engage the people of North Carolina in doing these things. I saw government not as some bureaucracy sitting up here in Raleigh. I saw it as I do now as a team, an opportunity, a tool that you can use to deal with people's problems and help make their life better. That means the team's got to be as efficient as it can be, be nimble, be responsive. But I believed that then and I worried about things since then. It was a lot

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harder than I realized it was going to be. But I still believe it can be done, and we've done some pretty amazing things.
JACK FLEER:
Did you have any different thoughts in '93 when you became governor for the third time so to speak?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Yes, I did. I saw whereas in '77 I would've seen government as having great potential to help deal with people's problems. By working through that eight years and eight years in the private sector, I came to see that the solution lies not just in government but in a lot of kinds of activities on the part of people. I had a far greater appreciation for the power of the private sector, the churches. That's what I saw. Unlike most Democrats, I favor Bush's faith-based initiatives.
JACK FLEER:
Faith-based initiatives.
JAMES B. HUNT:
I, like a lot of Democrats believed in personal responsibility and pushed welfare reform. We have one of the most successful programs in the country. I believe that we can get a lot of people to volunteer. I did it for sixteen years and set up a whole state approach and gave out ten thousand awards to people who have been outstanding volunteers and got the Governor's Award. I saw the governor more not so much as the head of the government as I saw the governor as the leader of the people and especially the vitality and the enormous potential in the private sector. Smart Start is organized in exactly along those lines.
JACK FLEER:
Being governor has a lot of personal consequences for you as an individual and for your family. I like to think that governors are people too. Could you talk about what the personal impact of having been governor is for you as an individual and for your family?

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JAMES B. HUNT:
Well, let me start by saying that you have some marvelous opportunities to do things and go places and meet people and learn and have your eyes opened to the world and lessons. Your family shares in that. But you lose a lot of your privacy. You can't spend as much time with your wife and children as you ought to if you do it the way I did it. You obviously give up your income potential for the period of time that is. [unclear] You don't, you just don't get to do a lot of things as much as you'd like to them, go fishing with the grandchildren as much, that sort of thing. It can be wearing to your health. But you run because you believe in creating a better society and world and you care about people and want them to have a chance to be the best they can be, want North Carolina to be the best it can be, the leading state. You just are fortunate to have a chance to participate.
JACK FLEER:
Is being governor a lonely position?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Oh yeah. In many ways it sure is.
JACK FLEER:
Can you talk about that?
JAMES B. HUNT:
Well, you have a very heavy responsibility on your shoulders. You can have help. You should have help. You need to have good people but hard to get them, can't pay them much. Succession, that's a little better. You have to make a lot of tough decisions, and you may be wrong, but you have to go ahead and do it. You have to in the final analysis you get all the help in the world you want, all the advice and listen to other people, but sometimes you can't find the answer anywhere but inside yourself. Sometimes you, especially on some of the big things, you have to draw [on] all of your life's experiences. I had to do that in creating the approaches to education that we did. Who would've ever thought that this state would have the best early childhood approach

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in America, that this state would raise standards for teachers and teacher pay to what it's going to be, right at the national average. This state would be the talk of America in terms of how successful, how scores have gone up. What when you get to those capital punishment decisions, have you done everything you could and are you making the right decision? My gosh. You've got a life depending on it. So I don't know what more to say about it except that you have to figure out, but that's one of the nice things about getting a mandate from the electorate. At least you've got your agenda set, and if you've gotten it legitimately, then you have to figure out how to carry it through. A lot of times it's terrible opposition to what you're trying to do. It may come from another party, another special interest group. It may come from your own party. Sometimes you get let down by people you appoint, and you have to make changes. I had to let some of my top cabinet people go at times. We've talked about some of this before. People I loved and respected and appreciated, but I just had to do it for the best interests of the people of the state so we could move on.
JACK FLEER:
You talked a little about the impact on your family, and I know that a governor's wife is a very important part of his life and in a sense of the administration. Should the governor's wife be a paid employee of the state?
JAMES B. HUNT:
The governor's wife gets about three hundred dollars a year for expenses or something I don't know what. The governor's wife probably ought to be paid a modest, reasonable amount. They ought to make some provisions for them more than we do now for what happens to them at the end of their lives. My wife never had a job. She is a teacher. She never taught while we were in office. Some governor's wives do around the country, but being the wife of the governor, hosting people in the Mansion, being a leader

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in so many ways primarily in volunteer work. Those are important things, and yes, there ought to be a reasonable allowance paid to her for all of it.
JACK FLEER:
Is there anything that can be done about the intrusion on personal life and privacy?
JAMES B. HUNT:
I don't believe so.
JACK FLEER:
You don't think so. It's inevitable. Is the job too big for one person?
JAMES B. HUNT:
No. But boy it takes everything out of you. But you have to, [unclear] that's not what you're willing to do. People of course are going to judge as best they can people's commitment whether or not they feel like they're fully committed. Of course many people grow into it. I guess you look at George Bush. You wonder. Will this man really fully commit himself. We hear he takes naps in the afternoon. But there are a lot of ways to lead. Ronald Reagan maybe took naps too. He had his own approach, and he was very successful with it. So you have to have one leader, but that leader really needs to surround himself with a lot of top notch people and work his head off and engage the people [unclear] . That's where your real power come from is the people and what they want to have done.
JACK FLEER:
Well, governor I thank you very much.
JAMES B. HUNT:
You're very welcome, Jack.
JACK FLEER:
I know the people of North Carolina thank you very much for all that you've done.
JAMES B. HUNT:
Well, it's been a joy. Let me give you this. This is kind of a these are results from—
END OF INTERVIEW