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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Koka Booth, July 6, 2004. Interview K-0648. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Growing too fast is preferable to declining

Booth responds to criticism that he allowed Cary to grow too quickly. He insists that growing too fast is preferable to declining.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Koka Booth, July 6, 2004. Interview K-0648. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
Over the last few years, since you were mayor, the growth has supposedly been slowed down within Cary. What impact has that had?
KOKA BOOTH:
Stopped, it has stopped. It has impacted the budget that if we don't, if it doesn't start growing again your taxes will increase next year.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
which they are predicting. There you are.
KOKA BOOTH:
Yes. Now, you can criticize me for growing too fast. And I had a man who was going to run for office call and talk to me. He told me, he said, "I wouldn't have supported you if you had run again." I said, "What did you not like?" He said, "You grew too fast." Here's the question I asked him. I said, "Would you have told SAS, American Airlines, Siemens Medical, Firetrol… which company would you have told not to come?" He said, "Well, I would just wouldn't have taken them so fast." I said, "Have you ever been in the sales business?" He said, "No." I said, "You take the order when you can get it. You don't take an order when you want it. You take an order, you want it all the time." And he said, "Yes, but we shouldn't have grown so fast." My answer is, we didn't take every company that came to look in Cary. You know the Pergo plant that went to Garner? I told the Chamber of Commerce that wasn't a good plan. With formaldehyde and sawdust and fifty trucks over here next to Weston going twenty-four hours a day, I wouldn't want to live over there and I wouldn't want… so we said. So they chose Garner, which is a good location because Garner had a place that wasn't next to residential and they were very happy. So you don't take everybody coming down the pike and you have to be very selective. I thought we were super selective. I will take the blame for the rapid growth if you want to give it to me. I think the people that served with me on the Council would take the blame also. And say, I grew up in West Virginia and I saw my community go from 120,000 down to 49,000 people. I told my wife when my kids were in middle school and beginning of high school, if we stay here they not have any place to work. I saw a third generation business to go out of business. So if you give me a choice of… you don't stand still. People think you do but you don't, you don't stand still. When you have zero growth and you're standing still, you're going backwards. You see, you already see that. You either go forward or you go backwards. Now sometime you may go too fast and maybe a little two slow, but you always have to work at going forward. People blame me for this and I'll take that blame, but I still think it's better to go forward than to go backwards. And you do not stand still. Nobody can convince me you stand still. Even when it's zero growth, it's not plus or minus but it's going backwards, it is going backwards. I think the record proves that.