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Interview with Carolyn Justice, March 2, 2007 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Interview with Carolyn Justice, March 2, 2007
March 2, 2007
Interview with State Representative and Wilmington native Carolyn Justice.
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Interviewee: Justice, Carolyn Interviewer: Jones, Carroll / Dail, Jennifer Date of Interview: 2/2/2007 Series: SENC Notables Length 95 minutes

Jones: It is March 2, 2007, and I'm Carroll Jones with Jennifer Dail for the Randall Library Special Collections Oral History Program. And our interview guest this morning is State Representative Carolyn Justice. She is a Wilmington native, and Carolyn has been involved making this area a better place to live for many years. She is a daughter, a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a business owner, and a breast cancer survivor. Good morning, Representative Justice.

Justice: Good morning to you.

Jones: There are so many parts to you, it might be best to start from the beginning here in Wilmington. Could you just tell us a little bit?

Justice: I'll be glad to. I was born in 1946, just nine months after the war ended. And I lived with my mother and father at my grandmother's boarding house at Ninth and Market. And my grandmother had seven children, and she and my grandfather came here from the Craven County area, the New Bern area, where my father was an overseer-- my grandfather was an overseer of a large forest. It was a lovely home and they raised their seven children there. And my grandfather died early, and so my grandmother didn't have a home that she owned. So she and her seven children moved to Wilmington and she opened a boarding house because, during the War, this was of course prior to me being born, during the war men came from all over North Carolina and, I guess, South Carolina, and worked in the shipyards here, building Liberty ships during the war, and they needed a place to live. So my grandmother, who was a very industrious woman, came up with a way to make a living and have a house big enough for her family. It was a huge, huge home. And so she and my mother and my mother's three sisters worked in the boardinghouse with my grandmother, except for one of my aunts worked in the shipyard; she was a Rosie the Riveter. And they did the cooking and the cleaning. And my father was at Camp David in Holly Ridge, and so he commuted back and forth. And it was a wonderful, wonderful life. Of course, by the time I was born, the war was over and things were changing, but there were still people there at the boardinghouse. But it was a wonderful beginning to my life because I lived in such a wonderful place-- Market Street, if you can imagine this, right there in that area, though, the buildings are different and that house is gone, but the street looks the same because of the huge oak trees and the shaded area down through Market Street. And in the summer time, when it would get really hot, my mother would walk us down to the big fountain at Fifth and Market, and we would paddle around in the fountain. The fountain was much bigger than it is now, but they had to remove some of the outer layers of the fountain as they widened the road, and it became two lanes.

Jones: You didn't bubble bath in the fountain, did you?

Justice: No, no, no, no, no. Well, you know, we that are 60 and older have this statement we make-- I'm from the old school-- that children didn't do things like that, then, though I'm sure they did and I just didn't know about it. But anyway, it was just a great life in a beautiful, southern, shady city.

Jones: With no air-conditioning.

Justice: With no air-conditioning, but I don't think we recognized or realized that. You know, it's like anything in life, you don't know how bad one thing is until you have something good to compare it to. But I knew it was a wonderful life. And one thing about being raised that way is my family and my extended family, my aunts, my uncles, my cousins, are all extremely close, and we have remained so all these years. Some live here in Wilmington, but most live in far flung places. But we still get together once a year, sometimes twice a year, and for a long time, when I was a teenager, we all-- 26 cousins, I think, and seven siblings with their husbands and wives-- would come to Wrightsville Beach and stay a week in a huge cottage at Wrightsville Beach. So it was just a wonderful way to live. And it kept our family close, which is great. My father's family is from Jacksonville. So we were close to that family, too, but not like we were with the family we were raised with when we were all younger, because all those cousins were nearby when I was younger. And anyway, my grandmother eventually sold the boardinghouse and she moved over to Princess Place, bought a house there. And my mother and father, and my sister and myself moved to Jacksonville. And so we were still very close and we were in Wilmington all the time because it's so close. So I actually went to school in Jacksonville, up through the 7th grade. And then my parents moved to Northern Virginia when I was 13, so we moved there and I went from a school system here in the shady, slow south, to the Fairfax County School System which was at the time rated the number one school system in the nation. What a shock! What an educational shock.

Jones: Where did you live in North Virginia?

Justice: Springfield.

Jones: Do they still have the farms up there, the dairy farms?

Justice: They still had some. This would have been '59, so this is some time back. And it was still a lot of agribusiness there, but it was developing pretty rapidly. And so I was in the 7th grade when I left North Carolina at Christmas, and two weeks later, I was in the 6th grade in Fairfax County because my level of attainment was sad. And probably a good thing. They were wise to do that and get me back and regroup me, start over. But we still came here all the time. It was a steady trip back and forth to Wilmington. So Wilmington has never been out of my life, and I had so much family here, that we came often. And then 30 years ago, we moved back. My husband's family is from Virginia, the Richmond area.

Jones: They are? I was going to ask you Justice is...

Justice: ...A common name here.

Jones: Beginning with, I guess, the most famous is Charlie Choo-choo.

Justice: Yeah, yeah, we all claim him.

Jones: And he's from Asheville.

Justice: Yeah, we all claim relationship to him, whether we are or not. But my husband's family lived in Richmond most of their lives. And I did live in Richmond for a while. We moved from Springfield to Richmond. And I learned quickly, though I thought I was a Southerner that I wasn't because, you know, Richmond is the capitol of the Confederates. And it doesn't matter how many miles south of that you live, you will never be a true Southerner unless you're from Richmond. But anyway, I loved it, and Richmond was a great and wonderful place to live, so much to do, so many amenities, so many wonderful things. Our son was in a Montessori School, I was just the up and coming mother, and it was just the greatest place to live and the greatest thing when we decided to move back here. And my husband was hired as the Exterior Superintendent when they built Independence Mall, and so he was offered that job, and that's why we came. And when I left Richmond, I cried every mile, all the way back because we were going to live in Hampstead, North Carolina because my parents had retired there, because Hampstead was half-way between my father's home in Jacksonville and my mother's in Wilmington. There are more people in this building, this library today, than lived in Hampstead 30 years ago. And it was such a-- it was going to be so tough, and where in the world was my four-year-old going to go to school because nothing could compete with this private Montessori School, I was sure they had nothing at that level here, though I did find that they certainly had some good schools.

Jones: You were a real mom, that's what it was.

Justice: Oh, I am, of the most serious variety. But anyway, so we moved to Hampstead and it just really was a quiet sudden shock, but Wilmington 30 years ago was beginning its growth. But 30 years ago, it was much like it was when I had left it.

Jones: But no I-40 yet.

Justice: No I-40 yet. And downtown, though, was done, had gone through the dying process, and it had no reason to go downtown; of course, my husband, the culprit who was coming to build this evil mall, to take even more business out of downtown. And my uncle Durwood Hatcher [ph?], who lived here all his life, deacon at Temple Baptist Church since they probably opened the doors, lived in the homes that abutted where the mall was going to go on-- I think that's Lincoln Forest. And so my Uncle Derwood [ph?] mounted the opposition to the Mall, he got together the folks-- do you remember there was a big push to stop the mall from being built there?

Jones: Well, I heard about it. We were living in Mount Vernon, Virginia at the time, and would come down here every summer to Wrightsville, and then moved down here permanently nine and a half years ago. But I do remember that because, on one of our trips in the mid-70's, they were starting to build around Glen Meade or Echo Farms, and everybody was saying, "Oh, no, nobody lives there."

Justice: Yeah, nobody would go that far out. Well, that's the way it was with this. And so my uncle was president of the Citizen Action Group to stop the mall from being built because it was--

Jones: Is that Derwood...

Justice: Derwood Hatcher. Because it was going to affect the quality of life, and before we're through today, I'll say that word another hundred times, of those folks that lived in Lincoln Forest. And here was my husband was going to be (laughing) the Exterior Superintendent on this mall. This is the reason we were moving here. And my dear uncle, who I loved and worshipped until the day he died, was going to be the opposition party. Well, thankfully, they worked a lot of things out and that Citizen Action Group got what it wanted. And if you notice now, on that side of Independence Mall is a huge berm that was built to protect those, and that was the settlement between the two groups. And so the people of Lincoln Forest can't see the mall, and it does buffer some sound. There was also a retention pond to be built because that was the beginning of learning that we need to retain water, storm water, off of big projects-- I wish it had happened 30 years before that. And this retention pond ended up right next door to my Uncle Derwood. I mean, it was just like, oh, my gosh, we had moved back to town to be with our wonderful family, and we're at war. But anyway, it worked out. And my husband made sure that that retention pond was maintained, no problems, because this was Uncle Derwood's house. So that was our first experience coming back. Anyway, we moved to Hampstead and the good thing about Hampstead at the time, and I guess it is still a good thing, is you're close enough to Wilmington for all the great things-- the theatre, the shopping, and all those things-- but you're a distance away so that you're not caught up in the hubbub of what it is now. Of course, at the time, it wasn't quite that big a hubbub.

Jones: Now when you first moved there in-- what-- the '70's?

Justice: '77.

Jones: O.K. How about I-- it wasn't I-40, it was 17, I guess?

Justice: I-17. And a long stretch of that drive was just forestland that--

Jones: I was going to say, what was it like?

Justice: Yeah, a lot of trees, a lot of forest. And it was what we call that three-lane suicide highway because the middle lane was not a turn lane, the middle lane was a passing lane, and those are the most dangerous highways in our nation because you're going south and there's a distance that you can pass, and then it suddenly stops and these guys are using it as a pass, and it was just dangerous, and you add to that hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of Marines coming from Camp Lejeune, going to Wilmington; they were on the highway with you. And they're great guys, and I love them, and "yahoo, save our world," but they're not good drivers. They're in a hurry.

Jones: I think most military men are not good drivers. If they're in the Navy, they think they're at sea, and if a pilot they're up in the air.

Justice: Well, they have such a short time off, they're in a hurry to get to Wilmington where all the amenities are. But anyway, so we moved back and it was slow for me to adjust. It was slow. If we had moved and lived in Wilmington, I would have been very happy. But we were out in this very rural--

Jones: But during this time, you were basically just a wife and a mom?

Justice: Well, when we moved here, I opened a business, a clothing store, in Hampstead.

Jones: Oh, you did?

Justice: Uh huh. And got involved in, well, was the founder of an organization called, well, the Hampstead Civic Association, and we-- and as I look back over myself, I'm a guilty party in a lot of things that I thought were great things then-- set about trying to get some businesses to locate in Hampstead, like a drugstore, because you had to drive all the way to Wilmington to get a prescription filled. We had a small little country grocery store, but you certainly couldn't buy all the things you needed, so we would have to go to Wilmington. Well, you know, I was from the big city of Richmond at that time, and I just couldn't believe I had to drive a half an hour to get a needle and thread. So we began to work on those things, the Civic Association. And we were successful in getting a drugstore to come to Hampstead, and the rest is, as they say, history. And just yesterday some numbers were released that say that, by the year 2030, the Southern half of Pender County, southeast from Hampstead, its population will be over 30,000 people. And right now, the whole population of Pender County is like 48,000. So the growth, that once it just eats up every square acre that's left in Brunswick, it's already moving to southeastern Pender, but it will be a pretty major explosion. So we're working hard to make sure that we're developing traffic situations, so we aren't caught after the fact.

Jones: Are you for this rapid growth there? Or would you wish it would slow down a little bit?

Justice: Well, as I move through this story, I think I'll get to how I feel about that. Anyway, we were able to get some things to come to Hampstead, to help it be at a livable quality of life, the basic things. But people still were not satisfied with the school system in Pender County, and had every reason not to be because it was not good. So the bulk of our population came from the north and retired folks-- they like the coastal living, either on the beach, or on the mainland and, of course, the golf. We now have four golf courses in Hampstead. At the time, we had two-way back 30 years ago. So a lot of single family homes, a lot of them live in condominium and patio homes, and so that's what Hampstead, how it grew. It grew from this retirement community. Later, as I was an elected government official, I realized that that's just the best growth in the world. They don't use a Sheriff's Department, they don't use Social Services, they don't use all of those services that break a county, and they just can't get enough money to do the things they need to do, because retirement growth is a pretty great thing, which is why it's always been advocated to push for that, because these people pay the high taxes, but don't use much of your services. So anyway, that's the way its growth was. But the parents that did live there realized that we had some pretty serious problems with our school system, so that eventually evolved to, now, we are rated one of the best in the region. But for me personally, I had this business-- as a matter of fact, by then I owned two businesses in the early '80's, and I realized that there was no way for our businesses to advertise because it was far too expensive to be in the Wilmington Yellow Pages, at least little small businesses, and besides, who in Hampstead would look in the Wilmington Yellow Pages to find a business at Hampstead? And we had the Star News, but it was a little expensive for folks in our area. And so I decided to start a newsletter and I got the businesses that were there to chip in to advertise in this little newsletter done on a copy machine, four or five pages, and there were 1,200 mailboxes which could be duplicates-- one guy getting one at his business and one at his home, but 1,200 mail pieces to Hampstead, and we mailed it free to every household.

Jones: How did you do that? By subscription or--

Justice: No, the businesses advertised and it was enough to pay for it because, in my mind, this wasn't something that was going to be for profit; I was trying to promote my own business. So some little news about things happening in Hampstead, and this Civic Association, and what it was doing, and that little newsletter evolved into what is now the Topsail Voice. But when I started it, people began to say to me, "We don't care, what do we need to know what's going on in county government that affects us?" So I started going to County Commissioner's meetings, just to do the stories, to get the information, it was pertinent to our area. And after a couple years of that, I came home one night and I said to my husband, "You know what? I could do that. And I could do that better than that." Because there was no sensitivity to the coastal area at all, because, you know, this was predominantly still a rural county. The issues that are important to the County Commissioners were predominantly rural issues and nobody was speaking this voice over here, or paying much attention to it, and our needs were growing as the community was growing. And people would come to these meetings and say, "You know what? These zoning ordinances that we have for Pender..."-- we didn't have zoning ordinances prior to '87-- "... but the rules we have that govern this county don't really fit for this area that's becoming more densely populated, and so those issues begin to grow, and then folks who were caring more and more about the educational system were showing up at education meetings saying, "Gee whiz, this education system really needs some help." So those things were all sort of happening in the early '80's. People were getting a little more tuned in because more and more people were moving in from outside and questioning the status quo, began to question all that. So that's when I decided I was going to get involved in politics, and did, but from a distance, not running myself, trying to encourage people to run. If they're complaining, jump in there. Well, it was very hard in Pender County, predominantly a Democratic county, very predominantly, probably 80 percent registered Democrat, and those were mostly people who had lived there most of their life. It was hard to get someone elected who was not from there because you had to be-- and it wasn't just that you had to be Southern, you had to be from Pender County, or you were not accepted, because in Pender County you live in the district you run from-- there are five districts, but you are elected county-wide. So you had to get every vote, you know, across it. And every candidate that would run from our district, the Hampstead District, wasn't elected. The one we chose to run, that we wanted to win, couldn't win because we only had these votes. The votes throughout the county, though, could put in who they chose-- well, the person had to live in Hampstead. So that was a battle for a while about, "We can't even get the person that the people who live here want to be their representative to be their representative as a County Commissioner." So there was a real war going on there, and this mantle of "you don't hear our voice; we're paying a big part of the taxes and we're not being heard. We're growing and our population is getting dense." So I think the result of a lot of that was that, in 1987, Pender County did adopt a zoning ordinance. And when you think about it, you think, "Gee, 1987 isn't that long ago, how could a whole county not have a zoning ordinance determining its future up until then?" But anyway, they did adopt one in 1987. But when you write a zoning ordinance for a county that is so diverse, still predominantly land mass, rural, and then this densely developing coastal area, you-- it's like putting Florida next to New York, and writing one dress code. Hard to do because-- an example is, it is perfectly all right in a very rural area, where you can hardly see your next neighbor, to stand out on the back porch and fire your shotgun if you want to. What are you going to hurt? But when you're in Old Point, and your next neighbor, you know, you can throw a rock at their house, that's not a good thing to do because you could hit somebody or something. So ordinances that it's hard to write one, because you don't want to say to this person down here, "You can't do that," but you certainly have to say to this person, here, "You can't." But a zoning ordinance fits a whole county, and when it's rural, it's going to be the dominant factor. And there's 100 different examples of those kinds of things-- leash laws. What's the problem in a very rural area? In a densely populated area, it's a problem. So that riff began to sort of tear at the fabric of the county. It began the movement to incorporate Hampstead because Hampstead kept saying, "Wait a minute, we need some rules," not just the firing the weapon, "but what this place will look like in ten years and how we will control this growth to some extent, and plan on what the future should be. How can we do that? We're not a town, we don't even have a voice in Burgaw." And when the folks that lived in Hampstead would go to Burgaw-- and I hate it when people use Washington, Raleigh, and Burgaw-- that implies there's something wrong with those towns. It's the government there, it's the county seat. But when we would go to county government and complain about these things, they'd say, "And who do you represent? Who elected you?" But nobody elected me, I'm just-- I live here and I want you to hear me. But when you're a town, you have a voice. So city goes, it has a voice. The City of Wilmington, county government in New Hanover County, the voice, they represent people, they were elected by these people to represent them. Wrightsville Beach comes to the County Commissioners in New Hanover County and says, "This is what Wrightsville Beach wants." There is no question of "who are you speaking for," they know who they are. Well, Hampstead has never had a voice. So this Civic Association, and groups like this, sort of become the voice, and they're not elected by anybody. So getting something done that will be good for the future of this rapidly growing area lagged way behind because of this. Had they been incorporated-- and I'm not advocating incorporation, but I'm just talking about how this works-- had they been incorporated back in the '80's, Hampstead wouldn't look anything like it looks like; it would be completely different. But it's not because it wasn't. So then, in the early '90's, and I'm just doing the whole Pender County story here, aren't I? Then in the 1990's, well, actually Mother's Day, 1990, it came out in our papers that the County Commissioners had agreed to locate a hazardous waste incinerator in Pender County. And most of us said to each other, "Gee whiz, that doesn't sound good." We have this very hot water table here, like a foot under the ground. Is this the best place to locate a hazardous waste incinerator? Just something about that doesn't roll in your mouth. Am I saying those words together -- "Pender", "Hazardous Waste?" So we started going to County Commissioner's meetings saying, "We don't think that's a good idea, and we hope you'll reconsider that." And they said again, "And who do you represent?" And so it turned into war. And I say to people in the General Assembly, to fellow legislators, I say, "I know that you think your county is unique and special, but different; I'm here to tell you mine is." These people don't put up with a lot of stuff, you know, they'll take it for so long, and then it's, "Okay, it's war." And we ended up with two and three hundred people at County Commissioner's meetings.

Jones: Well, you had the interest.

Justice: And they would not back down.

Jones: Good for them.

Justice: I mean the Commissioners. They were going to do it. They were not backing down, they were going to bring this hazardous waste. So then we begin to think, "What could be motivating you with 300 people in a room screaming at you to go on for something that was going to provide like 12 jobs? You're not convincing me that everything is right here." Well, some of the more radical folks in our Stop the Hazardous Waste Incinerator hung the bodies of the County Commissioner in effigy on the courthouse square. These people were serious. (laughter) Not in this county! And then the biggest thing of all, the Pender County Republican Party and the Pender County Democratic Party met together-- both parties were against this-- and formed a coalition between the two parties-- this is unheard of-- and we put on a non-binding referendum for people to vote on, thinking, "Okay, that'll show 'em." And on a sunny day, a Saturday in September, not traditionally the day that people vote, or the month, we set up these 17 precincts that people normally vote at, all the registrars that normally work at the polling places volunteered, did it for free, more people turned out to vote than had turned out in the previous election. And 97 percent said "no." It took two more weeks to convince these guys, but they withdrew then.

Jones: They probably were afraid of getting lynched (laughter).

Justice: (laughter) Though I was not participating in the lynching! But anyway, that's an important story because it leads to this. It was people empowered, and the tragedy in Government and in our nation today is it has to be a hazardous waste incinerator in your face before you can get people to do this kind of thing. But that really did peak my interest, and it was then that I said, "I'm running for this. I can do this better than this." Now, here was the strange thing, still a huge Democrat majority registered--

Jones: But they didn't all vote Democrat, though?

Justice: Well, you know, Southern Democrats are more conservative than mean, but still, we were in Pender County, I was a Republican-- oh, heavens, I lived in the East, oh, heavens-- and I was a woman. So with every strike against me that I could have against me, I set out to run, and won, and have won every time since that I've run. And I have always carried Pender County heavily. And I don't think that makes me great; I think here's what it says: I would like to always be, however long I serve, and it might not be a whole lot longer, I want to remain the person who fought against a hazardous waste incinerator. I want to remain the citizen who came here because I didn't think government was responsive. The moment I become government that doesn't hear people, I don't want to be here anymore. And so I think that's why I remain successful in winning, in spite of a lot of odds every time, is because this is just me. I still am in my heart the citizen, not the legislator telling you folks down there what to do.

Jones: Carolyn, where is your line running to New Hanover County?

Justice: Well, there was another battle...

Jones: You tell it because you actually are a representative from both?

Justice: Absolutely. I now represent the Coast of New Hanover County, down to Wrightsville Beach. I have all of Porters Neck, all of Landfall, and I go over to 17 and down, and I have a piece of Forest Hills in my district. But when I started out, the district was-- the State Representative District was all of Pender, and a little bit of Castle Hayne. The state of North Carolina under the last census in 2000, there are 120 House members, so you divide the population in North Carolina by 120, and it came out to about 67,000 people per district. And when it was all Pender, it was that population plus enough of New Hanover County to make the 67,000, and that's how a district is drawn. And that was won by another fight. Up until that year, up until the census was re-done, Pender County had three state House members and two Senators, which was absurd. The population was 40,000 people. And what was happening was, because Pender didn't have a voice, Duplin didn't have quite enough to make it 67,000, so it took all of Duplin and a little piece of Pender, all of Bladen and a little piece of Pender. All of Onslow and a little piece of Pender. So we became the pie that made everybody else's district work. So when this got his, all of Duplin and a little bit of Pender got ready to get re-elected, if not a soul in Pender voted for him, he was going to win. So legislatures had no obligation to these people and that's what's awful about cutting a carrot up like-- as a matter of fact, that's why the State Constitution says don't do it, because it's awful. And so, when the census was done in 2000, and the General Assembly, who has the authority to re-draw these, gave Pender not three state representatives, but five, we had become splintered even more. The Republican Party of North Carolina sued the General Assembly of North Carolina. Pender County joined, radicals that we are, as a friend of the court, it was called an Amicus Brief, and we just sort of saddled up beside them. It went to the Supreme Court of North Carolina, and our folks testified, and the Judge in the Supreme Court said, "Pender County is a Balkanized County and a poster child for how to do it wrong." He redrew the maps-- I don't know if you remember that big event, but he redrew the maps that the General Assembly had drawn, he redrew them himself, the Judge. And when he redrew them, he drew Pender County whole and what number it needed to make it whole, and that kind of split and is legal because New Hanover had more than enough to have a whole district, board enough to have two whole districts, so they were going to get somebody that lived in their county. So when that district was drawn like that, and it held for that election, and the primaries that are usually held in May that year were held in September, just months before the General Election. So here was my first race for the House. For months, I didn't even know where my district would be. I was running in unknown territory because it could be here in Wilmington, it could be-- nobody knew, but I was running anyway. And we didn't know until just before September that Pender County had won the case, temporarily, the Judge had drawn us whole. So I ran and won that seat. So once again, I won all of Pender County, being from the East, a Republican, a woman, and all those things against me. Then--

Jones: I don't mean to interrupt you. I don't know if they're all against you because, of all the elected officials in this area, and I have to consider the five counties, I think you are probably-- if not one of the ones, the only one who I personally have heard from people in the university, all over the place, and the university-- all educational institutions that are primarily liberal, the feeling you're an honest representative, and that you're representing the people. And that, I think, is very, very important. So affiliation, party affiliation, doesn't really count.

Justice: It doesn't really count here, but it counts in a rural Pender County-- it counts.

Jones: You see, there's the difference, where you can live here, we don't hear about this.

Justice: But because now the population in the east has grown so much that it is going to mean less, but two have won it in 1994 was quite a miracle. But anyway, so then, the Judge gave these maps to the General Assembly and said, "Okay, I got it fixed for this election," and we all ran in the districts the Judge drew, "But you now, because the Constitution says that the General Assembly will draw the districts," that's the Constitution, he said, "Now you go back and put the finishing touches on it, and make it, finish it up. But you got my hint here about what I want done." And this one, just Pender, involved other counties. So the General Assembly took it. I am now Legislative because I've won, and I am now in Raleigh, and it's given back to the General Assembly, and so I'm sitting there watching this being drawn and they come to me and say, "We've re-drawn your district. We didn't give you three or five state representatives." And I thought, "Oh, great, we're going to hold." They said, "We split you in half." So (laughter) I said, "Okay, where is my district now?" So it is the entire coast of Pender County, Topsail Beach, Surf City, Hampstead, it actually goes over into Rocky Point a little bit, and down the coast of New Hanover. So I am a legislator for both counties, probably about equal. As a matter of fact, there's probably more people in the New Hanover County side.

Jones: I can't help but think that that's typical, and I know it is because you're dealing with economic differences--

Justice: Well, actually not because, remember, the coast of Pender is very much like the coast of New Hanover County. So if you were going to draw and say, "Okay, let the number one criteria be communities that have much in common," that's not bad. As a Legislator, picture if you were just one county. Take Senator Julie Boseman, she is a Senator just for New Hanover County. She has one Board of Commissioners, one education board. Senator Soles-- his Senatorial district is all of Pender, all of Columbus, all of Brunswick, because it's done by population. He has three Boards of Commissioners to deal with, three school boards to deal with, and heaven knows how many incorporated towns to deal with. So I have two County Commissioners, two Boards of Education. That does make the job a little more difficult. And I do have the folks who live in Hampstead and the Rocky Point area, who say they've lived there all their lives, and the folks that live in Landfall who are brand new-- they've got to be new, that hasn't been there that long. So it does have those differences, but I think any counties, even if I was all Pender County, I have those differences. So that's not such a problem. Communities that have things in common, it does fit the Constitution; it does not fit the Constitution when it says you will not split a county if you don't have to. They didn't have to split Pender County. I am thrilled with my district, and I will be satisfied if it remains this way forever. But if I put on Pender County's glasses and say, "What's the best thing for Pender County?" Constitutionally, Pender County needs to remain whole, constitutionally. When I was elected, the two-year window where Pender was one county with just a piece of that, I was the first state representative in 40 years who lived in Pender County.

Jones: Really?

Justice: Yes, yeah.

Jones: Oh, that's interesting.

Justice: They say 40, I think it's 30, but they say 40. Think about what it's like to not have a representative who lives in your county, or close enough to it that they, you know, for me, Pender and New Hanover are sort of like one county on the coast, because everybody in Hampstead shops at Wilmington. So it's part of my life. Well, that whole area used to be New Hanover County. And I know New Hanover County saw it and made that deal when they sold off the east of Pender County, boy, great land of tax. It would have been a good place (laughs). So we're a part of it just by "this is where we shop, this is where we go to the hospital, this is..." People in Hampstead don't go to Burgaw to the hospital because it's not in their traffic pattern, you know. They go here to shop and my son goes to school here, you know what I mean? So it is common enough that it works, but before that big decision by that Judge, the man who lived in Bladen County was my State Representative, you know, all of Bladen County, very rural, snakes through Pender down the Southern Coast and over and picked up Hampstead, up the middle of Old Point, what could this man know about our life, or what we do, what we need? He can't know. He lives way over there in Bladen County. Good grief, it's an hour to get to where he lives. And then, from his perspective, how easy was it to serve me? It took him forever to get to me. And in North Carolina, the General Assembly is a part-time Legislature. So we're not full-time at this. Everybody in the General Assembly either has to have-- you have to be retired, you have to own a business, or to be an attorney, or a doctor, or some person who can regulate your schedule because we're part-time General Assembly. We make $13,000 a year.

Jones: Isn't that wonderful? It pays your gas.

Justice: Well, no, you get your gas. You get that, but $13,000, you know, this is awful, I hope my husband never sees this video, but I could spend that on clothes! (laughter) I don't, honestly, I don't. But think about the clothes you have to have. You have to wear a suit every day.

Jones: You're very enthusiastic and you're very knowledgeable, and you're very, very involved. And obviously you see what's needed. Tell us for right now, you're in early 2007, what do you hope to see accomplished over the next four, five, or six years that's for the good of-- we're talking about southeastern North Carolina, not just Hanover County.

Justice: That's exactly right. Sure. Because we are a region, and we need to remember that.

Jones: Truly. We look on it that way when we do our historical notes and so forth. We speak of this as the five county system.

Justice: Sure. I think of it as three counties, but you're right, it now spreads inland. I started to get in that conversation back there when I was talking about zoning of Pender County, and how this community didn't have a voice, the coastal community of Hampstead didn't have a voice, and how Hampstead would be a completely different town today, a completely different community today, had it been incorporated, because it would have had control of its zoning. The rules on the density of homes would probably have been a whole lot different had they had their own-- had they been a town with their own, because these folks that were moving in here, because, remember, this community was now heavily populated with folks that had moved in here from other places. They had seen it done wrong, is that proper grammar?

Jones: It will do for right now.

Justice: It sounded bad. Seen how government had done it wrong where they lived before, and knew how to do it right, and had the desire to want to do it right. But their voice couldn't be heard because they weren't a voice. And because we were under County rule of zoning, we had to have this more lax ruling. We fought for a time for what was called a "Highway Overlay." We said, "Well, give us this. Do an overlay in the zoning map of just this area, and let us write tighter rules under this overlay because we're so different than you are. We're so close together and you're not." You know, in the way our houses are being built. So the tragedy in "where will be five years from now," now talking about the region-- and let me interject here-- about ten years ago, I helped form an organization called the Cape Fear Regional Growth Team, and it was a whole new concept, and is was-- the seed for it came from the University. Dr. Tom Barth here, Political Science, prided us on forming this organization, and put together sort of a group of people, it was real loose, folks from Columbus, Pender, Brunswick, and New Hanover County, people that were involved in leadership in some way. We even had a priest, I mean, you know, it was people who touched people in many ways. And we sat around a table, it was about 20 of us, and we'd meet about once a month, and Dr. Barth would say, "If we could do something together as a region, what is it we would do?" And so we'd put the typical charts up on the wall, "Ah, sewer, we probably need a new sewer together." Is that true? "And there's probably things in education we could do together if we thought about it," and so those meetings were very important to me as a leader in Pender County, because it broadened the view. At the time, I could not have told you the name of one Brunswick County Commissioner. But I've probably seen it in the paper, I've never met him. I'm sure they were great guys, but I had never met them. I knew from my party affiliation who Bill Caster was, but I didn't know him really personally. And then my affiliation with the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners, we would see fellow Commissioners, but I didn't really know them. And I certainly didn't know a single elected official in Columbus County. So Dr. Barth, after a year and a half of having this meeting, we had a big summit, invited a couple hundred people in the region, and so it gave me the outcome of what we'd been talking about, and we hadn't come to "we need to do these six things together," though we had come to a rough list; we had come more to a realization "we needed to do this." And so at that meeting, when it was over and everybody was thanking everybody, I went out to Dr. Barth and I said, "May I just say something before everybody leaves?" And he said yeah, so I took the microphone, we were here at Warwick Center, and I said, "Before we all leave this room, I'd like to ask the elected officials, the County Commissioners in the four counties, could we next month meet, and sit down as leaders, not your front people, not your manager, but your Planning Director-- the actual Commissioners-- and talk to each other about what we could do together?" And there was born the Cape Fear Regional Growth Team. And we did three or four projects together, very successful. We decided to start out with something not small, but something that wasn't earth shattering like a sewer. We put together a map of those four counties, and we located every historical site in the four counties, every tourist attraction, anything of any importance, and we didn't put any county lines on this map.

Jones: Oh, really?

Justice: And on the other side, you know, if it was a green symbol on this side in green, it was historical; if it was blue, it was this; and we paid for it together, did the work together, got a grant because of the regional approach, and printed hundreds of thousands of these things, and then, when you came to visit our area, if you were from New Jersey, you don't know where the county line is, do you? You don't know one county from another, but you're sitting here at Wrightsville Beach and you see this map and, "Whoa! Look at all the things I can do within an hour of where I am." It makes our region more attractive, it gives you as the visitor much more to do, and it gave us something to do together and be successful at. I now know all the Commissioners very well. And since that time, and this is about ten years ago, there's been a multitude of times that I've needed something and I now had a person that I could communicate with. I'm sorry to say that, after some of us rotated off this County Commissioners, that sort of took a back seat. But it was the beginning of acknowledging that we needed to do that. And I do think that we have a better relationship now. One of the most important things we garnered from that was, Pender and New Hanover belong to Wilmington 100 Industrial Development. Columbus has its own and Brunswick has its own. And what was happening was, when Brunswick had a potential industry come and talk to them, or they were wooing one to come talk to them, if the folks said, "No, this doesn't look like a place for us," they'd drop them off at the county line. Well, how foolish. They need to call Scott Satterfield with the Wilmington 100 and say, "Hey, that thing in Brunswick, maybe you can work something out." So that was a successful-- so I know I sidelined there, but I just thought that was important to say, that Regional look at things is an excellent thing to do and we need to do more of it. But back to the hard core ugly reality -- we've had this conversation of "what are we going to look like in five years" every five years for the last 20 years I've been involved. And we had the talk. And we did the ordinances that try to hone in on that picture. And then we don't enforce the ordinances, or we don't live by them. And here is my take on this: it's like Christianity-- don't get nervous, I'm not going to try to save any money-- Christians believe that when you are first saved, to make that decision to commit your life to Christ, that it's wholesale, He forgives you every sin you ever had, but from then on, it's retail, a sin at a time. You have to ask forgiveness every time because now you know the difference. That's what this is all about. We write this wonderful ordinance-- here it is, this is everything we need for this to be a great place to live in ten years, and we destroy it a sin at a time, one at a time. And it's when somebody comes for a special use permit, the ordinance doesn't allow that, but he's a nice guy, he's made this investment in the land, it'll provide three and a half jobs, jeez, can we say no? No, we can't say no. So one at a time, we dismantle a plan. You know, it's like when you have your house rules when you're raising kids-- these are the rules, you don't go out past 9:00, you know, you have your homework done by this, but, o.k., well, this time I'm going to let you stay out past 9:00. You lose control and pretty soon you're not in control and kids are doing whatever they want to do.

Jones: How about such things as we have "on paper" and then talking about certain projects, they sound terrific, and there's every reason why people should go forth with them, the studies, the powers that be, and the people are going to donate for this land, a lot of money.

Justice: For schools.

Jones: Yeah, for schools and for--

Justice: And they should be donating land for schools because they're about to bring you 500 new schools (laughs).

Jones: Yeah, I know, but you know what I'm thinking about is the redevelopment for downtown Wilmington as an example. And running little riverboats from Brunswick County to here, because Brunswick is expanding so fast, and all these wonderful drawings and so forth, and it looks, gee, this is terrific. This is the future. Commerce is going to be here, downtown will be revitalized, the northern end is just booming like crazy, we're going to have money to build new schools because of taxes. The Convention Center is going to be used all year round, which it probably would be, actually. And all this sort of thing. And yet ten years later they might be talking the same talk-- nothing done. However, it seems some people say, "Oh, we can't do that. It'll ruin this area." I had a man tell me about-- I was interviewing this historian, great guy, and he said, "I don't want the Board at South Port. Look what they've done to South Port." South Port, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I can understand that, but where do you stop growth? Where do you stop making things easier for people? I mean, if they didn't do all these horrible things with infrastructure, talk about sewers, that would be the least of the problems, there would be a lot of others.

Justice: Well, when we look at these plans and they--

Jones: People are continuing to come in here-- not necessarily New Hanover; they're going to Brunswick, I guess.

Justice: But if you stop building houses, they'd stop coming, wouldn't they? If there's no house for them to buy, would they stop?

Jones: If you build it, they will come.

Justice: Exactly right. And so they're coming because you're building the houses for them to come, and you're bringing the industry for the jobs. But you've got to bring the industry for the jobs because you've got people moving here, and they need jobs. And you've got to build schools because people are coming here and they're bringing their children. It is a cycle. And here is the mantra that you get past, "Oh, a lot of growth is better than no growth." And so...

Jones: How about controlled growth?

Justice: There is no controlled growth.

Jones: You can't?

Justice: Well, it is if you enforce your orders. And then they'll say to you, "Oh, no, no, this man made this application and he abided by everything in the zoning ordinance," well, this is elementary. Then there's something wrong with your zoning ordinance. You know, you can change the rule.

Jones: Charlie Rivenbark sat here last week, he's the president of the Azalea Festival this year, been in business here, his family has been here for ages, and he said that you tell your customer who now brings in probably over 100,000 people in those few days, and I said, "Do you have any idea how much money is being generated?" He said, "I can't tell you for sure because I don't think there are any accurate records," but he named off something about the downtown Wilmington and so forth. I said, "Where are these people coming from?" He said, "They come in families from all over." I said, "If that's the case, and more of these are developed, why can't blah, blah, blah?" So he says, "I don't know. I'm a businessman." But he's in the business for commercial growth. And yet he said it's an argument and it's a mystery to everybody. Well, he didn't quite that way.

Justice: Well, I tell you what, it's not a mystery. To me, it's not a mystery. It is simple. You build on every square inch of land, you'll have a house, they'll move here. You bring industry for these people because now they're here, and they've got to have a job, and they'll come here to work. And they'll bring their children, and you'll build schools. This is not rocket science. At some point, you have to have a plan and you have to stick to it. The problem isn't, well, you haven't had a plan; good grief, we have more 20/20 plans across this nation than will ever be read. But they don't stick to the plan. And what good is the plan if you don't stick to it? And if the rule allows things that happen like, "Oh, you had to build Mayfair, they met all the requirements," well, why didn't you hand me the rules unless the highway is there to take the traffic? Well, the failure isn't because, you know, you couldn't stop Mayfair because it followed the rules; the failure was you didn't put anything into plan that said you have to have the road before you do that. And even if the department of transportation in Raleigh, "If it doesn't come through with the money to build a highway, sorry, you're not doing this." We don't know how to say "sorry." You know? "You can't do this." And it's getting ready to-- it's happening now in Brunswick, and it's getting ready to happen even more than it is in Pender County. We don't have the kind of courage it takes. And I've seen elected officials elected who, in the run for the office, say, "No, I'm not going to allow that to happen. We're gonna get some control on growth." And they get there, and the first person that walks in with this plan and says, "Well, I bought this land ten years ago because I knew one day I'd do this. I've got this investment." And then go, "Well, maybe you." And that's exactly how it happens. You can watch planning board meetings, you can watch county commissioners meetings, where they're discuss these things, and you can watch the wheels come off of this thing right in front of your face. This is going to take courage. And I know most of our leaders and have great admiration for most of them, but they don't have all the courage they need to make the decisions. These are hard, hard decisions. They tell people "you can't do what you want to do with your land," and we live in a society where you ought to be able to do what you want to do with your land. So if you're going to have a planning and zoning ordinance, if you had the courage to develop one and enact it, you've got to have the courage to stick to it. We haven't stuck to it. Here's a picture I want to paint with you before I leave.

Jones: I was going to ask. You're welcome to stay if you want.

Justice: No, it's not a problem for me. Close your eyes and picture the City of Wilmington, and now look underground in your mind's eye. To every house, to every shop, to every business, and picture a sewer hook-up that's going to every one of those. Do you see what a maze that is? And it's going badly in some places. It's not good. Some lines, they dig up and the sewer is actually seeping through the pipe wall. That's underground. It's happening under this building. There are sewer lines that let's hope all of these are in good shape. And in the big interceptor that carries it to where it's going to be treated, in this city, is in awful shape, not just all these sewer lines, the interceptor that takes all the sewer to a treatment plant is in awful shape.

Jones: It's scary. It is scary.

Justice: It needs to be scary. The City of Wilmington is facing a crisis at the moment that we're sitting here taping this. Before this year is over, there will be a major spill because we can't get it fixed fast enough.

Jones: Let's talk about that on another tape because we've had a few of these things I want to bring up.

(Tape Change)

Justice: It's not just that we're exceeding the capacity of the land, and we'll have no open spaces, and we won't have green spaces. That every square inch will be built on. We are stressing our sewer system to be able to support that. An interesting sideline to this is the state of North Carolina is no longer issuing any permits to discharge into our waterways. There will be no more discharges issued, unless a city or a county who has a system, and of course that's after it's treated, don't get nervous. Cities, municipalities, anybody that has sewage treatment plants, they will no longer be able to discharge into a river. So unless you already have a permit and it's sort of in the pipeline, you've got to figure out what you're going to do with it eventually anyway. So we're exceeding capacity to do anything about it. But I can't stress enough that we can't keep looking just on top of the ground. Some of the systems in downtown Wilmington are 100 years old. They're clay pipe. And when they dig them up to make a repair, they have to build a box completely around what they're doing because the pipe disintegrates when they open the ground to it. And the only reason it's holding together, is because over this 100 years the layers of roadway have built and built and built. You know there's brick down there, and stone down there, and asphalt and asphalt and asphalt. So all that's the traffic vibration is not affecting it because it's so far down there now because we've built up the roads. We don't talk about this. This is like the crazy aunt that you hide in the closet. You don't talk about that. Nobody gets to see it. And until you have a major even like we've had now for a year and a half, and even now, I'm surprised by this. Senator Julia Boseman, and Representative McComas, and myself met with the folks from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources about this situation because we're really fighting about this situation. And Senator Boseman proffered the idea that maybe the money that is being collected by up for from occupancy tax, people who come and stay in our hotels, that's been upped recently to collect a certain, nothing to do with beach re-nourishment, that will stay going to that; to build this convention center that Wilmington is talking about building now. That maybe that money be diverted temporarily to expediate the correction to this major problem that we're having with our interceptor that transports sewage from all these lines to the waste treatment plant. And just this last week I've been flooded by emails from Chamber members in the city of Wilmington. Now, they're all a standard letter that everybody's copied. And there's nothing new and original. They're all saying the same thing. I like to hear original thoughts but I'll deal with what I'm getting. And it says these two things don't have anything to do with each other: our major sewer problem and this convention center. This is like my crazy aunt in the closet. She's crazy, because you're going to bring hundreds and hundreds of people to a facility and if this doesn't directly affect this northeast intercept that's having trouble, it affects needing more capacity for waste. And so the two do have something to do with each other. And though a convention center is a wonderful thing to have, I've lived in cities, Richmond, I took great advantage of our convention center. I went to many events there and enjoyed having it. But government, if you go back to the original constitution of our nation and the original plan, was to provide things for our health and safety and our welfare. So these two issues, when I line them up in my political government view, I have health safety and welfare, the protection of my country and my safety, I see this sewer system. I'm not seeing this convention center.

Jones: I can see where you're coming from.

Justice: And so that's where I'm supposed to come from. It's like bending the rules when you allow things to be built when they really shouldn't be built. It's asking me to bend the rules of what I'm supposed to be taking care of as your elected official. And I'm on a septic system at my house where it's still in a rural. We don't have public sewer system. If the sewage, if the septic system in my front yard failed this afternoon, but I'm already planning to redo my kitchen and buy new cabinets, I'm not going to buy the cabinets. I'm going to solve this problem. And until the day you can't flush your toilets you don't see this as a problem. But one thing that never gets picked up in the news about this northeast interceptor and the major problems they're having with it and the major leaks is, so far they've been able to do the repairs without cutting the sewer off to anyone. Picture a situation where they'd have to cut you off and you can't use this until we get this fixed. I mean until it's backing up in your toilet, and you're just looking there saying convention center? Interceptor? It almost has to come down to your level. And we as a people are all guilty of that. So I think that's-- and every time a Mayfaire is built, you're adding to the line. This summer when the tourists show up-- right now there is a million more gallons a day in that interceptor than there was last year.

Jones: Really?

Justice: It's a total of five million gallons going through there.

Jones: Due to what? Just the growth in your area?

Justice: People that were permitted to go on even after we knew there was trouble and in-growth and all these things.

Jones: It seems to be a derelict of duty as far as-- really and truly it does. If they've known about that duh, yes but why? Why allow it?

Justice: Because when the man comes before the council and says I've had this land for five years, and I intended to build this. You see? It takes courage to govern. It takes real courage. It takes sitting here saying "Okay, I'm elected. I've got four years." It takes not thinking one time about that next election. Never letting it enter your mind, just thinking about this four years, and if you never come back again, that you did everything right in those four years. But everybody is banking on the next election.

Jones: I want you to say this on the camera. I've heard from you I believe, that you don't take any PAC money.

Justice: No ma'am. I don't take lobbyists' money. I've never since I've been elected official starting in '94. I don't take Political Action is what PAC money is. I don't take lobbyists' money. No one has ever bought my meal.

Jones: I want this on tape.

Justice: And it's not because that if they did I'd be influenced, because I think I'm pretty strong-willed, but perception is everything. And I don't want anybody to ever perceive that I would do anything wrong but somebody said to me, you know, we went through all this lobbyist and ethics reform in the general assembly last year which I was very pleased about, and was contributing to that, and this year I'm on that committee. I'm on it to be on it to continue to advance that. And somebody was saying to me "Well that's the commitment you made when you were a county commissioner, and you're now a state legislator so you wouldn't be violating your promise." And I said "No, when I made that promise my two sons were hearing me make that promise." I can't violate what I said in front of them, and then expect them. And I don't think we should write laws that say that legislators are elected officials. I don't think we should write laws that say that political action committees can't give donations. I think that takes away their rights, because remember Political Action Committees are also North Carolina Association of Teachers, Associations of Superintendents, the University itself, the Heart Association, the Lung Association, as well as the realtors, developers, lawyers, physicians and environmental groups. They all have PACs so I don't think you should say I want to take away their right to give and move their cause forward. I think it's something we as elected officials need to do and say "No, I just don't think I will." If none of us did, all these organizations would have equal opportunity to speak and move their cause forward, which they'd do with me anyway. I still meet with lobbyists. I still meet with political action groups to hear what their organization wants me to hear. I just don't take their money and don't let them buy my meals, and if I end up in a restaurant and it becomes a difficult thing for me to get in there and get mine paid, I made a donation to a charity cause in their name and cover it. I think all of that has something to do with it, but let's say you were a county commissioner who never took a dime from anybody. It's still hard to say no to these people who say but "You know, this is a free country. I bought this land. I want to be able to do this." It's hard to say no. And if that's your mindset, that you can't say no. It's a free country, build what you want on your land, then just don't bother to make a zoning ordinance. Just don't bother to have a subdivision ordinance. Because it's just a facade that makes people think-- and they have citizen's ceremonies, 20-20 commissions, and they work for a year working out plans, what's the most important thing, what I want my city to look like. And they spend all this time and they feel like well, I contributed and we're going to do something. It goes on a shelf and the next person that shows up says "Well, I know I'm not supposed to build this here, but I have this land." We're just fooling each other. That's all we're doing here. We're not making a plan. We're abiding by it though we had public input on the plan, you're not enforcing it. Let the folks stay home. So that's all of them.

Jones: What can be done to change that, or is that just human nature and an evolution of time and being elected to let's say becoming a city commissioner or counselor or whatever, and then suddenly you change a little bit by what you are surrounded with, for example?

Justice: Well, first of all, a very small percentage of the population votes.

Jones: Why is that?

Justice: Because perception is everything. People perceive their vote does not make a difference. Because nothing here is changing. It's staying the same. And so what difference does it make. But worse than people not showing up at a poll, that is not where the problem starts. The problem starts the year before in people not being willing to run. So you go to the polls, those of us that are dedicated to going to vote, and often times we're voting for the evil of two lessers and that's the way I meant to say that, instead of the lesser of two evils. Because that day you walk in and these are the only two choices you have. A year ago before, you had some choices. I can run. I can talk to some people I know and get them to run. I can become involved and make a change.

Jones: How expensive is it to run for even a small office? I don't want to denigrate any office.

Justice: I know, at the local level. It's different in different counties. I think in Pender County you can probably do it for $10,000. Probably in New Hanover it's a whole lot more money than that. But that's just because the races are a little more intense, and the media market is more expensive. See in Pender County you put an add in the three local papers it doesn't cost a lot of money. In Hanover County your local paper is the Star News.

Jones: In Pender County you can go out and shake hands and show up at various meetings and so forth?

Justice: You're going to need to advertise and do a little television, but it's a little less expensive, but here because your only media market, your print market is the Star News. A full page ad in the Star News is $5,000. I mean it is one ad and there you are. But I don't know. I don't know what the County Commissioner's race is. I've seen that recently but I can't remember what it is, $20,000, $30,000. The senatorial race, not congress, state of North Carolina this last one between Julia Boseman and Al Roseman I think was over three-quarters of a million dollars. Probably closer to a million dollars. It's absurdity. It's insanity. But it's because of the PAC and lobbyists' money that it is, because if that money went forward in it wouldn't be there raising the-- and here's what's bizarre; a lot of those Political Action Committees that donated for one, donated to the other. They're hedging all the bets. See if we weren't doing that, this would all come down. In my last election--

Jones: Do you think that scares off people who could be qualified?

Justice: Sure, they think how in the world could I raise that kind of money?

Jones: They have to go beg, borrow, steal.

Justice: But I raised it. I think I raised 60 in my last one, but every bit of it from people in my community. Yeah, $20, $30. Some $200 or $300. Some $1,000. But just from people, and it can be done. We just don't believe it can be done. We're running a pilot bill this time that I'm excited about. If a person running a race, X-amount of dollars it will be matched with X-amount of dollars. But you have to raise this much, you have to raise it from this many people which shows the effort on your part to get out and do the work. And we're going to try and do two State House races. And they came to me. I was honored, and said "We'd like for you to do one of the pilot things," and I said "It won't work for me. This one I already do." You need to get somebody that's taking PAC money.

Jones: Do you think people here are a little bit leery of quote unquote newcomers? I mean people here less than ten years, let's say, running for office thinking what do they know? They're not here.

Justice: You know, that used to be, but in New Hanover County, more and more it's the norm that's who is here are the people that have been-- no, I think the message is where it is. And I think if we find people-- see, I came up through the grassroots. I came up through the Civic Association and the PTA and I was a part of my community, and learned my community from the bottom up.

Jones: The old way.

Justice: Yeah, I put on concerts every year in Hampstead Three in the park every year. I bring in military bands and it's free. You sit around. I've always been sort of involved in those kinds of things. So people know me as that person, and so it's a little easier to trust me and they say "Oh, that's Carolyn. She's the one that does concerts in the park." But people who have never been involved. It's not that you're new here. It's that you've not been involved and people know you and you've been out there, and you understand it from the bottom up. It's you've lived here, you come here, you've never done those things and I want to be this. And so--

Jones: This is what I'm doing in return.

Justice: Right. It begs the question so what's your motive? For me, I don't think it was hard to see my motive. I cared about my community. I stepped up to this, I stepped up to this. I did this. And so mine was from a-- and that doesn't make me wonderful and everybody bad. It's just I think going that way builds you to the kind of person that I can say I can trust you.

Jones: Do you still feel though that for the person who sees a need for a voice, let's say whether they've had any experience or not, they're going to live here and instead of complaining all the time and writing ridiculous letters to--

Justice: Sure.

Jones: To get involved in some capacity?

Justice: Absolutely and if it is not--

Jones: Like the volunteers.

Justice: Yeah. And if you're not going to run, if you just say "That's not something I can do," then you can get involved in finding the person to run. And I'm not necessarily talking about being involved in your party. I'm not talking about party stuff here.

Jones: This is not party politics.

Justice: Yeah, this is find a person that you think would be good. Because then when you go to the poll you're voting for somebody you know. You're not just saying "These are the two names. The name Brown, I like it better than Schwarzkopf", you know. And that's how some people vote. We're writing a bill now that they rotate the names on the ballot, because it's a six percent influence.

Jones: Is that right?

Justice: Absolutely.

Jones: And instead of alphabetical.

Justice: That's right, and of course the Democrat's always the first person on the ballot because we are in North Carolina, and it got like a six percent advantage. It's amazing, isn't it? That's a tragic story about how we vote. I mean that's tragic. That somebody votes by name. I remember voting for judges and standing there going what do I know? And it being okay, this year I'm going to vote for women judges. But we've done something about that. You now get the magazine that tells you about the judges and you're not in the dark anymore. And that's no longer, that is not partisan anymore. I don't believe in doing away with partisanship. I think parties are okay, but I feel we're just finding the right candidate to run.

Jones: Alright, we've discussed at some length. I feel educated because there's some things I didn't know, and I'm sure anybody else watching this is going to learn about the sewer system, the failure of it, the soon-to-be real failure of it, perhaps. What else can be done? What else is going to be needed? What else are you looking at for changes? Good, bad ignored?

Justice: A lot of things are ignored. I think we have been and we might now have a man, and the man before him that was Governor and the man that's Governor now have been the education governors. And this week we read that dropout rate is higher than we ever thought it was. So. Thank goodness there were education governors. Where would we be if there weren't?

Jones: Pender county schools are doing well.

Justice: Yes, they are, they are. That was a commitment made by the citizens of Pender County. They got serious about it. After that story I was telling you about the Thermachem [ph?] hazardous waste incinerator thing, the people of Pender County began to get just sort of nosy about what was going on in their government, and I think they got a little cocky because they had pulled off this thing and you're not going to do what we don't want you to do. So then they started showing up at meetings and dang all, within a year they had the county manager in front of a judge here in Wilmington being indicted because he was doing some things he shouldn't do. I mean he just got real nosy. And so they got serious about education and said enough of this. Let's do something about this, and they needed to build schools, and so they got the County Commissioners and the Board of Education to speak to each other. There's an anomaly. And get out and fight for bonds together, and we passed huge bond, $57,000,000 I think it was. And started building good schools in Pender County and in the County Commissioners, and I was one then, said to the Board of Education "We'll get out and help you sell these bonds. We'll get the money to build your schools. You commit to us, you'll improve education." And doggone if they didn't. Of course we had to steal a real great Superintendent from New Hanover County to do it, but I told you we got cocky. And Mark Salzdy [ph?] who is here at the university now turned the school system around in Pender County. You get the right people and you can do anything.

Jones: That's true too. Somebody who-- so where else should we go?

Justice: Well, so with the education it's the one thing, well that and mental health. Those are the two things that I just remain baffled, but I know this: when you continue to do the same thing the same way, you're going to get the same results, and what we're going to have to do I honestly can say to you I do not know. But I will tell you this, there is a flaw. When I sit on the Education Committee in the General Assembly and they come in and make these presentations, members of the General Assembly get these hair-brained ideas of things we ought to do with education, and they know as much about that as I do about nuclear physics. But yet you know, we spent two house one day last year and the Education Committee deciding whether or not we should make a rule that teachers in the elementary grades ought to put not suntan lotion, what's the word? So you don't get burned? Sunblock on elementary children when they go out to play.

Jones: Please.

Justice: Yes. And it turned into this long debate about "Well, what if you don't know if the child is allergic to the stuff and they break out." "Well they can get cancer from the sun." And I was sitting there thinking--

Jones: Is that all they got to think about?

Justice: This is what we're doing and our dropout rate is climbing. We all know inherently within us that we have a breakdown in the family.

Jones: Okay, I was going to say there are external [inaudible] here.

Justice: Absolutely. That we have stopped leadership in the education system within the school house from being serious with students when they do something wrong. Knowing what to do with them when they violate rules. You send them home? You expel them? Why put a bad kid on the street? We send them to these other schools, these optional schools.

Jones: They learn how to be worse.

Justice: Yeah, in a lockdown kind of a situation. The world has changed, and we as leaders haven't changed with it. We haven't adapted. We're still using these sort of basic rules we used to use, and children don't learn this way anymore, or maybe they do and we've tried to adapt to a world moving 90 miles an hour when we ought to be back here with the basics. I don't know. I'm not an educator. I don't know.

Jones: You're a mother. You're a parent.

Justice: And I know those basic fundamental things, but I keep saying and people look at me like I'm crazy, oh no, it's a different world today. I keep saying but gee whiz, if my kid learns how to do math, he'll be prepared.

Jones: As a mother several times over in old age too, that you don't ask a kid what they want to do. You tell them, this is what you want to do and need to do in order to grow up. This morning's news told of a school in Minnesota where the principal has now abolished homework, and the reason she gave was the parents were complaining so much about the extra time taken from outside activities.

Justice: Right, got to have that soccer.

Jones: I heard yesterday on the radio, Tom and Jer [ph?] say that things were going to change because so much is falling apart. It all goes back to the idiotic parents who want to be friends with the kids, who are looking at everything else except discipline, and earning something. And that we might have to really have a rough time before they decide--

Justice: I think we're in the rough time right now. We are in the rough time.

Jones: This is the way it is now. They want change.

Justice: But the good news, and there's always good news, the good news is we recognize it. We are not all dozing off here saying well, that's just the way it is. It is the topic of conversation. It is the topic of conversation. And you can't have that much conversation without something coming from it. We still have young folks who want to be teachers, thank God. We are putting money into like the Teacher's Fellowship thing. We are expanding that program. We are recognizing that math and science teachers, something's going to have to be done to get them in a classroom. And you know that loud old entry for retired guys and gals who have been in other industries to do with math and science, getting them in a classroom. We are recognizing it. It's not like it isn't the number one conversation. We just haven't found it yet. But I think these things are cyclical, and I think it's going to come around and we're going to have to realize and I believe this, and this is probably my Southern heritage, children need discipline.

Jones: They do. As adults we have discipline. We have rules to follow.

Justice: That's right. And children want discipline. My children were always better off when they knew exactly what I expected of them, than when they were just sort of out to fend on their own. I have hope, but I absolutely do not know what the answer is, and I think anybody who says that they do are fools. Well, there you go. As far as what things in our community, in our region, I think the city and county in New Hanover County and the city of Wilmington, have really tried hard to have open spaces and have green spaces and parks, and I admire and appreciate that in them, because that's a quality of life issue. That is your health, safety, and welfare. Part of your welfare is to have those places, and I am proud of them for that. I think they see that and I think they see how important that is. I think the library system in New Hanover County is very good and very important. And when they bought that huge building at Landfall it was a major investment. And that building has turned out to be a major asset to the community, as is the library downtown and the other branch libraries. I think they do those things well and recognize them. And I think this is true in most municipal and county governments; is it's this thing you can't see that doesn't get fixed, but it is the life's line. It is your blood system in your body. The water and sewer system in the municipality is the life line, and to make what's on top of the ground be wonderful and look wonderful you sacrifice these other things. I know I was reading one time when they cut back the hours of the library in New Hanover County. People came out in droves, the letters, the phone calls, my god it was the most awful thing that ever happened. And they said okay, we'll raise the taxes, do that if we have to. But if you said we're going to raise them to fix this thing you can't see underground, nobody shows up. You know, they don't come to that party.

Jones: Until it happens and then there are lawsuits.

Justice: Then-- and here's where we are now. We're at the crisis thing now. Talk radio is nothing but this issue. It's alive with this issue. And the city council in New Hanover right now are saying in the middle of this interceptor issue "Oh yeah, we're doing all we can do. We're doing all we can do." The Chamber of Commerce members are saying "Oh, don't stop the convention center for this. It's two different issues." You know, we're at a crescendo right now. Something is getting ready to blow and I just hope it's not a major sewer break that blows, but it's going to because they can't build a parallel line for this bad interceptor. It will take two years if we start today, so this is still bad in these two years. Maybe the outcome of this will be a new and better way of looking at government. Boy, what you're not looking at can get you. It's like having a bad place on your hand and thinking that's bad. I ought to see a doctor one day and then one day it's too late.

Jones: How about historic preservation and I'm not just talking about Hanover County. I'm talking about the coast line down Pender County, Onslow County, down into Brunswick County. We've got so much history here. And yes, we've got so much history here. And yes, I am talking about the city of Wilmington which needs to be addressed as well.

Justice: It's another one of those quality of life issues. It makes life better because it's pleasing to you to keep that and preserve it. And it's important to keep it persevered. Like what we were talking about with our children and how we raise our children the way we used to do it with better-- those things need to be preserved too. That is very important. As a Legislator, I can't let it get above the health and welfare and safety issues, but it's like the parks and the open space, and the green space. It's what makes your life better and why have you moved here? Not to have these wonderful things-- my grandmother's house that I talked about, the big boarding house on Market Street was dismantled and barged to Charleston. I looked for years to try to find it. I kept thinking oh, you know, every time I'd go to Charleston I'd say "Oh, maybe I'll find it" We'd just ride up and down the streets because I'd know the house when I see it. And I later discovered it was taken for parts. So my grandmother's house is all over Charleston somewhere and I'll never find it. That hurts my heart. Did it just hurt you when I said that?

Jones: Yeah.

Justice: Oh gosh, and so it is important to us, saving those things in the history. And if I could drive down Market Street today and see that house, it would just be the most pleasing thing if it was still there, but it's not there. And my grandmother is gone, but this would have been something I could have had. It was a piece of history we could all have. World War II is over. But having the ship here that was a part of that keeps alive whatever what those men did. And we will never, and I can't even talk about it without tearing up. We'll never as a nation be able to thank them enough, and so we can't forget them. And this young lady's children will never know those men. They'll be gone.

Jones: Do you agree like so many people and I've come to agree, that it was the most defining events of the 20th century? It's changed everybody's lives forever.

Justice: Oh absolutely. It did.

Jones: It didn't only bring men off the farms. It gave women a chance to work. It changed their lives.

Justice: It changed their lives. It changed the world, yeah.

Jones: Education. Homeownership.

Justice: And you know what I think about those days five or six years right after the war, I see my mother's sunny kitchen, and a yellow plastic radio playing "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" or something, and the sun shining and my sister and I playing in the backyard, and my father off to work. That magic time right after it had changed everything, and there was hope and there was prosperity and everything was different. And these guys were going to college on the GI Bill, something they never would have been able to do. It changed--

Jones: They bought homes.

Justice: Yeah, if it had not happened, our society would be completely different. We would-- it would have taken years to get to where we got had it not been for that, and invention, and discovery. It did change everything: synthetic rubber, all the things that were developed.

Jones: Of course this area is so unique because all the services were represented in one way or another.

Justice: Right, that's right.

Jones: And the town just went, most of them, went right into the war effort.

Justice: Absolutely.

Jones: You spoke of I know people in Forest Hills were renting rooms in their homes.

Justice: Oh everybody did. And not just for the income of it, but for the patriotism of it.

Jones: Because there was no housing.

Justice: And it was the right thing to do and the rationing and the willingness to not buy hose, and not be wasteful. We've come so far from that. And that's why things like the battleship and the Kitty Hawke and preserving those buildings downtown, are not just because when I was a little girl we used to walk down Front Street and stop and look in Kingoff's window that my mother's engagement and wedding ring came from there, but so that the world never forgets it, and we could lose it. And those buildings are aging. And is that up to the individual property owner to fix, or is that up to us as a people to preserve? Those are big questions.

Jones: Yes, I think you're absolutely right. I do feel that it's certain my personal feeling, and nobody cares, that it does take a community, and it takes the property owners, and it takes the people involved in historic preservation. It takes-- I hate to say it because--

Justice: Village.

Jones: No.

Justice: Say the "village" word.

Jones: The "V" word? It takes more than just one or two or three. It takes a concerted effort from the group.

Justice: Yeah. It does. And it takes a desire.

Jones: But I think it's worth it for this area.

Justice: Oh shoot yeah, sure it is. Sure it is. Oh and all the way to Southport and we were talking about the big Newport coming in south of Southport. I don't have a warm and fuzzy feeling about that. I'm hearing "Oh it's the thing to do." And "The economy."

Jones: "Where's the infrastructure? What are the trucks going to drive on? And where are the warehouses going to be?"

Justice: "Where are the people that are going to live that work there? And how are you even going to get down there because the roads aren't here?" And we don't have the roads we need for what we've got. And we know that we're on a list with 100 other counties and that getting the state road money, and of course the General Assembly steals the Highway Trust Fund blind, and how will we continue this funding? Will we raise the gas tax to increase the Highway Trust Fund? And people are not happy about that. They think they pay enough taxes, and then the article just this last week in March here of 2007. That Wilmington is the most expensive place to stay in North Carolina to live, but the incomes run behind Raleigh, but we're more expensive to live here. How did we get this way? And how do we wind out of this? Courage. It's going to take leaders with courage.

Jones: I think it provides the best of a lot of worlds, particularly for the younger retired.

Justice: Oh yeah.

Jones: I read, I heard someplace and then I read it again where Wilmington, was this true or not I don't know. You would know. That in New Hanover County, Southeastern North Carolina and it listed Pender, New Hanover, Brunswick, as the highest concentration of retired Fortune 500 mint and upper level management. They may not live here 12 months out of the year, many of them do, but they pay taxes here. It has the highest concentration of any other place in the country.

Justice: I've heard that too. I don't know if that's a fact.

Jones: So the money is here. The homes are here. The golf courses, the boating, it's all here, the restaurants.

Justice: And the demand for service is here. You move from the north to the more rural South and you move here because the taxes are cheaper, the quality of life is good. You've got the water, you've got the things, but you want your trash picked up at your house, because that's the way it was where you lived. So the City then has to do that because more people moved down. You know our septic tanks. "My gosh, you're going to have to have a sewer system because that's the way it was where I came from." "No, I want the library open 12 hours a day, because that's the way it was." But you moved here because the taxes were low. Now all the things you when you got here you wanted have increased the taxes, and you just can't understand what went wrong here, and that's the cycle we go in.

Jones: Carolyn, I wish we could talk another hour. You have given us so much information. I would like to have you back.

Justice: Sure.

Jones: Maybe in another six months or so.

Justice: Sure.

Jones: Even the fall, see where things have gone. I'm glad you're a friend of the University. We're certainly your friend. And I'm glad you're somebody who is from here so you can talk about those wonderful moments, particularly along Market Street and your great family and that's wonderful. I wish there were more families who could do that. You know, we've lost sight of that, but this has been a treat. It's been a pleasure.

Justice: It's been my pleasure. Thank you very much.

Jones: And come back again.

Justice: I will. Thank you.

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