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2002-08-19 Interview with Louie Mack, August 19, 2002 Leg001:2002OH092 Leg 053 01:25:38 Kentucky Legislature Oral History Project Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries Legislators -- Kentucky -- Interviews. Teachers -- Kentucky -- Biography. Political campaigns -- Kentucky. Educational change -- Kentucky. Misconduct in office -- Kentucky. Lexington (Ky.) Kentucky. Governor (1983-1987 : Collins) Kentucky. Governor (1987-1991 : Wilkinson) Kentucky. Governor (1991-1995 : Jones) Collins, Martha Layne Wilkinson, Wallace G. Jones, Brereton Van Horn, David L. Kentucky Education Reform Act Education Segregation Fayette County Education Association military service gubernatorial campaigns campaigning political philosophy tax assessment polling BOPTROT ethics legislation civic involvement Key Legislation: Kentucky Education Reform Act (KERA) "coon dog bill" "living will bill" "greed bill" Term/District: House (1986-1992), 77th district Counties in District: Fayette County (Ky.) Louie Mack; interviewee Eric Moyen; interviewer 2002OH092_LEG053_Mack 1:|19(4)|31(10)|56(5)|70(4)|81(7)|95(9)|124(4)|140(3)|151(7)|163(12)|197(8)|208(3)|218(11)|227(4)|249(2)|264(1)|282(3)|296(10)|310(3)|326(12)|351(2)|364(2)|389(6)|400(5)|419(4)|428(1)|442(7)|466(9)|475(1)|488(7)|499(11)|518(3)|526(4)|540(6)|561(3)|570(10)|584(14)|601(1)|614(7)|631(9)|645(8)|657(8)|681(14)|692(5)|701(2)|724(9)|738(11)|749(9)|761(8)|777(8)|788(11)|802(4)|815(4)|824(1)|834(3)|847(4)|858(7)|869(2)|880(1)|900(11)|910(11)|921(15)|942(10)|954(6)|968(5)|982(2)|995(1)|1006(3)|1014(2)|1035(9)|1046(1)|1062(6)|1072(12)|1082(2)|1099(5)|1116(3)|1125(15)|1138(11)|1151(6)|1162(2)|1175(9)|1188(5)|1208(1)|1221(11)|1239(1)|1250(6)|1264(9)|1290(5)|1305(7)|1313(12)|1327(2)|1350(1)|1369(1)|1380(5)|1394(10)|1406(11)|1417(2)|1428(6)|1438(9)|1459(3)|1476(1)|1495(11)|1508(9)|1523(6)|1534(3)|1548(12)|1561(8)|1576(7)|1585(2)|1603(2)|1613(5)|1629(13)|1657(7)|1673(2)|1689(11)|1703(5)|1717(8)|1730(3)|1740(4)|1751(7)|1766(2)|1774(12)|1797(4)|1815(9)|1836(8) audiotrans Legit interview MOYEN: Alright, I'm here today with Mr. Louie Mack who served House District 77 for eight years upon your election in 1984. MACK: Right. MOYEN: Thank you for meeting with me. MACK: Glad to do it. MOYEN: I'm wondering if you could start out by telling me a little bit about your family history, your genealogy, how far back you know about your family roots. MACK: Okay. I can give you that, I think. I was born in 1924, and my mother passed away when I was about eight weeks old. She had dropsy, or a heart condition. After that, I was brought up to Lexington and I lived with my grandparents until I was about eleven, and then they passed away. Then I had to go to live with an aunt and stayed with her until I went into the service, and when I got out, coming back out of the service, I went back to live with her. Stayed there until I married, and then I have four children and four, three great- grandchildren. I was in education and my two oldest daughters are, one lives in Nashville and is a counselor there in that school system and one lives in Louisville and work, and is a first-grade teacher there. Then I have a son who works for the University of Kentucky. That pretty much covers it in a short period of time. MOYEN: Did your grandparents at all talk about their family history or do you know anything? MACK: Not a whole lot. Not a whole lot. I don't know a whole lot about my family, about my past or genealogy or anything like that, and I haven't made any attempt to trace that down in any way. But I had two brothers and two sisters, and I'm the only one surviving at this time. MOYEN: Okay. Now, where were you born? MACK: Jessamine County. MOYEN: Okay. MACK: Jessamine County. MOYEN: In Nicholasville? MACK: Yeah. Then I came right--I didn't even know it, I was, my mother was so sick they, as soon as I was born they brought me up to Lexington. MOYEN: Okay. MACK: So, I consider myself a Lexingtonian. MOYEN: Uh-huh (both laugh). Where did you begin schooling? MACK: Okay. Started elementary school at Jefferson Davis, which was located over on North Limestone. And from there I went to Lexington Junior which was down on--downtown. Then from there I went to Henry Clay. Then I took, when I got out of the service I went to Transy and got my A.B. degree. Then I got my M.A. plus thirty at the University of Kentucky. MOYEN: Okay. Do you recall anything about your elementary school experience at Jefferson Davis that was particularly enjoyable or particularly frustrating, anything in particular? MACK: No. I had some pretty good experiences there at Jefferson Davis. I had some excellent teachers, or at least I thought we had some excellent teachers. I know I won a Good Citizenship Award which I still have with me. I don't know how come that to happen. Then I was president of the class at Lexington Junior when we graduated from, used to have a seven, eight, and nine, but I can't recall of anything really significant to happen in any of my school experiences. MOYEN: Any particular teachers that you really enjoyed or may have caused you to go into the teaching profession? MACK: Well at--Miss Day, who was a third-grade teacher at Jefferson Davis; Miss White, who was my chemistry teacher at Henry Clay; Miss Maguire, who was a physics teacher there; Miss Davis, who taught social studies at junior high school. I had such a good experience with school and also with the teachers I had, I don't know if they had that much influence or not. I guess the person who made the greatest impression on me was Dr. Davie Crawford who taught at Transylvania College. I had to take a filler course, as you know how that works, sometimes you cannot get all your courses you like to have. So I took school organization under Dr. Crawford just as a filler. When I went to college I thought that I was going into the ministry, that was my goal. Then I had to take some other courses and I took that course from Dr. Crawford, got to know him real well, got to talk with him. I was going to Georgetown College instead of Transy, but Dr. Sherwood who was Dean of Men over there at the time-- MOYEN: Was that at Georgetown? MACK: Georgetown, who I was very fond of and I was positive that I was going to Georgetown and going to prepare for the ministry. Well, he changed his position and went out to California. So l lived within walking distance to Transylvania, so I decided well it be just as easy if not easier for me to go to Transy where I could walk than have to go to Georgetown and live on the campus and this sort of thing. So I guess Dr. Crawford probably had as much influence on me for going into teaching as any person. MOYEN: You mentioned going to, or planning on attending Georgetown to going into the ministry. Georgetown is a Baptist school. Did you grow up Baptist? MACK: Oh, yes. Yes. MOYEN: Okay. Did you, and you attended church here in town? MACK: Go to Calvary Baptist. MOYEN: Okay. MACK: Yeah. MOYEN: Still do? Is that the one downtown? MACK: On High Street there. MOYEN: Okay. When did you begin attending church there? MACK: Oh I, it's been about ten years-- MOYEN: Okay. MACK: First we started, I first started at Felix Memorial Baptist Church, which is on Fifth Street which is an Afro-American church now. Then I went to Grace Baptist on Loudon Avenue. Then I went from there to Trinity Baptist on Strader Drive when Bob Brown was pastor there at the time. And so when we changed after his death, I told my wife just to pick out one, I'd let her, I said, "I'll go wherever you want to go and as long as you make it large enough that I can hide in. I was, I just, I was wore out." So she selected Calvary and we like it very much. It's a good church. MOYEN: Were there different churches that you attended was that throughout your childhood and high school years or has that been throughout your entire lifetime that those transitions were-- MACK: I don't think I mentioned Porter. Porter was where I got most of my early childhood, that was located on the university campus there where, well, the university bought the church there, the old Porter Memorial Baptist Church. And so I spent most of my time there in early childhood. Then in my teens I went to Grace Baptist, I mean Felix Memorial Baptist, which is on Fifth Street. Then I took my young adult was at Trinity, I mean at Grace. MOYEN: You mentioned your desire to go into the ministry. Were there any particular ministers or individuals in the churches that made you think that that's what you wanted to do, or how did you come about that early decision? MACK: No, I was al----there was a neighbor of mine who lived close to us and they, I went to church with them, I got to know them real well. I thought they were very fine Christian people. They had a lot of influence, I think, on me. And I think Dr. Schrader who was pastor at Felix Memorial Church, I think had some influence on my decision at that point going into the ministry. And I spent a lot of time at the church, I did a lot of work. I taught Sunday school class. I attended almost every time the door was open I was there. So I thought that, I really thought that I'd like to do the work with youth because I thought that was a contribution that I could make and would be either a youth pastor or something of that nature. MOYEN: Um-hm. You said you were born in 1924, is that correct? MACK: Um-hm. MOYEN: Do you remember or do you have any stark memories of the Great Depression-- MACK: No. MOYEN: or that coming on? MACK: No, I don't. No. MOYEN: So, the stock market crash and the ensuing Depression really didn't-- MACK: That didn't-- MOYEN: didn't affect you? MACK: that didn't affect me, no. MOYEN: Okay. MACK: We were spoiled and didn't know it (laughs). MOYEN: Now, what occupation did your grandparents-- MACK: My grandfather was a railroader, yeah. My grandmother didn't work. I had two aunts that lived with us and they worked down here at the Spotswood Specialty, which was a little business that made different items like pencils and stuff like that. MOYEN: How would you compare the Lexington of your childhood in the late '20s, early '30s, even into the '40s with the Lexington of the year 2000 and beyond? MACK: I thought that, in reflecting that, I thought it was much more isolated with grace and cultural patterns of people. I thought the community in that early yea--, at that particular time that you're referring to was more of an isolated old Southern type of mentality. I think that there was about a very few people who really was a power structure of the community, who really was able to call the shots and I think today it's more open, it's more receptive, it has a better powerbase to it. So I think that's the big change probably. MOYEN: Um-hm. You mentioned just a few people calling the shots, and when were you aware of that and were you interested in either state or local government? Was that something that early on caught your fancy? MACK: Well, I'm not sure that had a great deal of influence on that. I guess I taught political science in the 7th grade at Bryan Station Junior High School, and I was always interested in politics and I was, I worked in politics and organization and in political campaigns and this sort of thing. When I went to Transy I majored in political science and history and economics and sociology, and that just stirred my thinking too at that particular point. So I've always had a desire to participate in the process, and so I think that that was part of the thing that interested me, and when, like I said when Dr. Crawford had an influence on me going into education. I expect I had some background there that made me want get into the political arena. MOYEN: Now, when you graduated from high school that probably would've been right at the beginning or near the beginning of World War II? MACK: Yeah. Right. World War II, right. MOYEN: Now, did you-- MACK: I served in the World War II right out of high school. MOYEN: Okay. So, right after graduation you-- MACK: I was drafted. MOYEN: Okay. Did you stay here in the States or did you see any action in either theater? MACK: I was here in the States and then I shipped over in England, and was with a unit, hospital unit. We were stationed in Yarmouth, England, which was close to the Channel. And we would get the troops back after they were wounded on the line and we'd evaluate them and either sent them back for, to patch them up and sent them back into combat or we'd send them across back home. I was in the service almost four years. MOYEN: Um-hm. Did, your area there, did you all have to respond to the German air raids at that time? Was that something that-- MACK: No. No, we did not. No, it was pretty much over by the time we got over there. MOYEN: How did that job in the military affect your thinking about, why I don't know, in life in general or the political process or war? What types of impact did that have on you? MACK: Oh, I think it made me probably appreciate my country more, and felt like that people had a tremendous amount of responsibility to involve themselves in the political arena by voting and running for office or giving their time to, the work of the government. It made me appreciate my country more, I think, to realize that we do live in a great country, and that made me realize that I had a moral and an ethical responsibility to participate. I don't think I've ever, since I was old enough to vote, I don't think I've ever missed a voting opportunity, and I've always been active in certain races that would come up. MOYEN: Um-hm. Now, when you come back home did you decide to attend college immediately-- MACK: Yes. MOYEN: upon your return? MACK: Yes, yes. Yes, I did. MOYEN: You were able to utilize the GI Bill? MACK: Right, right. I probably could never have gone on to college if it hadn't been for the GI Bill. I think that's one of the greatest things that has ever happened to this country was with those who had the vision to do that, and a lot of men and women served in the service--of course, I don't think there was many women serving in the service at that time. But a lot of us would never had the opportunity to go to school if it had not been for the GI Bill. MOYEN: So you attended Transylvania. Did you know, when you went to Transylvania before you had this fellow's course that you talked about, were you still intending to go into the ministry even at Transy? MACK: Yeah. Yeah, I was. I was headed that way until I took that school organization from Dr. Crawford and then after Dr. Sherwood left Transy then I thought that, you know--so, but that changed my direction. MACK: Now, when you graduated did you have, did you intend to stay in Lexington or were you open to-- MACK: Oh, I was open to where I could get a job. Jobs weren't as plentiful then as they are now, you know. You can almost, anyone with a warm body can teach school now almost, but anyway I had an offer to go to Jenkins, Kentucky, up in the mountains and I'd never been in the mountains. Probably the good Lord was guiding that I didn't go (laughs), I probably'd got shot up there. But anyway, I had a chance to go to Bryan Station Junior High School and teach the 9th grade civics. It was just before the school started that the lady that had the class had to move, and so I went out for an interview and was accepted and taught there. MOYEN: Um-hm. And at the time was Bryan Station part of the county school system? MACK: Yes, yes. Right, right. Bryan Station Junior High was both elementary and junior high. Had more elementary students than they had at junior high. At that time there was seven, eight, nine in the junior high school. MOYEN: Okay. And how long did you teach before you moved into an administrative role? MACK: Oh, I guess ten, fifteen years before I went into administration. MOYEN: Okay. So, did you teach that entire time at Bryan Station-- MACK: Yes. MOYEN: Junior High? MACK: Yes. MOYEN: Okay. Any particular subjects that you found interesting or-- MACK: Well, 9th grade social studies or civics. I also taught some math and, but I--that was, my major was history and civics. So I enjoyed that very much. MOYEN: Um-hm. Now, of course, when you were attending school and then also as a teacher Lexington school system was segregated-- MACK: Right. MOYEN: When did that, when did you become conscious of that and conscious of that being a problem? MACK: Oh, I was conscious of that because at that time we had two distinct local school, like Central Kentucky Educational Association, well you had the Fayette County Teachers Association. We had blacks in their group and whites in theirs. All sort of know that our schools were segregated at that time, and that the Afro-Americans had their schools and the whites had their schools. And so I was aware of that at that particular time when I was teaching and when I first started. MOYEN: Was that ever anything that you just thought about as a kid growing up or was that just presented to you as, hey, this is the way it is? MACK: I just accepted it as part of the culture, part of the society in which we lived. It never occurred to me that it, you know, any different than that, I just--although when I was president of the Fayette County Educational Association we did merge, I took the leadership in the merging the two organizations. So we had a consolidated group of blacks and whites who moved together and made one Fayette County Educational Association. MOYEN: Do you know approximately what year that might be? MACK: No, I really don't. I--it'd be hard for me to recall at that point. MOYEN: Okay. Was that, would you know if it was before or after a watershed event like Brown v. Board? MACK: Oh, it was before that. MOYEN: It was before that? MACK: Yeah. MOYEN: Okay. And you mentioned you were president of that association? MACK: Um-hm. MOYEN: What other types of things would the Fayette County Education Association be involved in or with during that time? MACK: Well, we had more meetings where we'd come together as a total group. We had (coughs), we had our association together, we had programs together, we got to know each other, accept each other. It was an excellent opportunity to cement the relationships and I guess that had something to do with what we did merge, that really was a pretty good feeling among them, you know, among the different staffs. And it worked out real well. I think that during that time we had more opportunities to be together, socially and also professionally, which gave us a better understanding of each other and accepted each other, and it was a step in the right direction. I took some heat from it, but that was part of the responsibility. Some people thought that that was the worst thing that we'd ever done. MOYEN: And how did they express that to you? MACK: Well, they threatened to withdraw from the association and they said some rather unkind remarks (laughs). They let you know that they didn't agree with it. MOYEN: Um-hm. Now, you mentioned that you taught for over ten years before you moved to an administrative-- MACK: Right. MOYEN: position. What position did you accept in administration? MACK: When I moved over to Central Office and was, worked as the Director of ----------(??) Personnel, the old ----------(??) really what it was and I stayed in that for a while. Then I then moved into acting super--, I went in as acting superintendent for teacher personnel. A gentleman, Mr. Norris, really who was head of the division at that time, his wife had heart trouble and he took a year's leave. So I filled in for him, and when he came back I went down as administrative assistant to the superintendent. And then I stayed in that and then I was what they call an area assistant superintendent, where the school system was divided into three geographical sections and you had area superintendents of each one of those, and I was one of those and stayed in that. MOYEN: Okay. Was an area superintendent essentially a superintendent for all intents and purposes unless there was a really serious issue that you needed to talk to the superintendent? MACK: Right, right. You had pretty much responsibility for the schools that were in your area, and you had latitude to make decisions, and you worked with the principals in their various schools, and you helped the staff, and it was pretty much a small breakdown of the school system so that you could have input very quickly and could bring about change if it was necessary. Yeah, it was small, that's what it was, it was pretty much a small school within a school. MOYEN: Now, during your time with Central Office was that all on, or during Guy Potts' tenure-- MACK: Yes. MOYEN: in that position? MACK: Yes. MOYEN: Okay. During his time the school systems merged-- MACK: Right. MOYEN: and the school systems integrated-- MACK: Right. MOYEN: and for the most part it was successful in the sense that Guy Potts survived that. There was certainly members in the black community who were upset about certain things, but by and large compared to other cities the size of Lexington it was relatively successful. Is that correct? MACK: Yes, sir. It was a miracle really the way things, because you didn't have a whole lot of dissention. Dr. Potts was a very strong leader and he was very fair. None of the city people who we merged with lost their positions. He treated everyone the same and he was very fair in seeing that the city was not personnel mushed in with the Fayette County personnel. And I guess probably one of the most controversial things that happened during that time was when he had to merge some of the schools, and some of the Afro-American schools we had were closed at that time because there was no sense in keeping them where they were because of the distinct difference in terms of geographic location. But I doubt if there is another school system that was this large that has merged with as least amount of problems as Fayette County did under Dr. Potts. MOYEN: Looking back on that situation would you, if you had it over to do again, would you have attempted to keep Dunbar open and integrate that school or not, and why not? MACK: No. I think because of the geographical location of students, I would not, I don't think, I think the decision was proper at the time, and I think that during that particular time it was the right decision to make and I would not have done it. MOYEN: So, after you served as area superintendent did you go back into the school system or did you remain at Central Office? MACK: Well, yes. I thought that I always wanted to have that opportunity to try to take a new school. So I talked with Dr. Potts about that and when Crawford Junior High School was built I asked him if I could go there, (clears throat) excuse me, and he said, "Yes." So, about halfway through the building process he asked me if I'd stay there at the Central Staff. So I told him that I would; so I stayed in Central Office until I retired. MOYEN: Okay. Do you recall when you retired, when that was? MACK: It was--no, I don't. I'm not gonna take a guess at it. MOYEN: Okay. MACK: I should remember but I don't. MOYEN: Okay. MACK: Nineteen eighty-two or '84. MOYEN: Okay. Were there anything, or what things were going on in the school system or in Lexington or the state at large that kept you interested in politics or in the political realm? What things were you most concerned about during your career as an educator? MACK: Well, I was concerned that we in Kentucky, especially as a state, needed to put emphasis, more emphasis on education and fund it where it could successful. I also thought that it was ----------(??) to take politics out of the schools as much as you could and to make it a true profession in that you pay staff a salary that they were worthy of. When I first started teaching I made twenty-two hundred dollars a year, and I thought that was big money at that time. My goal was if I could ever make one(??) thousand dollars I'd be really doing well, and so I taught for a number of years on that salary trying to raise a family on it and to get another job to carry us through. But I thought at that particular time that those who were in politics and who had the power needed to focus on the public schools and give the leadership that would make them the type of a school system that it should be. MOYEN: Um-hm. You mentioned trying to support your family through your career. When did you get married? MACK: I was married, will by fifty years next April. MOYEN: Congratulations. MACK: Thank you. And my wife didn't teach, or she didn't work at the time, and I was the sole breadwinner. And she had two children when we married and then we had our own two children as we progressed, and it took everything we made to support that family. During the summer I worked at one of the pools here in Lexington as a director, and then I had an opportunity to do some outside teaching too. MOYEN: What type of outside teaching was it that you-- MACK: Well, I taught at Transy one summer-- MOYEN: Okay. MACK: in education. Then I taught in Georgetown in their education master's program. MOYEN: Okay. Did you enjoy that? MACK: Yes, I did. Yes, I did. It made me do some studying that I would not have done otherwise, and I enjoyed working with the teachers. And I enjoyed the interplay of ideas because people who, in those courses they were there to learn and they were self-motivated, and I enjoyed that very much. MOYEN: You mentioned trying to keep politics out of the schools as much as you could. Are there any instances that you can think of while you were teaching or in your work at Central Office that just really frustrated you because it was an example of where politics was dominating the education that, or the educational system that we had? MACK: That's a hard one to deal with because it's hard to get your teeth into exactly what took place, but I do know that certain individuals had the door open to them because they were, had a power structure of some type, either leadership or political. But I, it's hard to pinpoint and say specifically how that would take place. MOYEN: Um-hm. What about something like the building program or, you know, just the physical plant of the Fayette County school system? Did you feel like that was something that was always done in the best interest of the students, or is that something that they were really, you would really have to fight for to be able to make sure that political interest didn't take over in that arena? MACK: I did not see that in the Fayette County schools. I have no knowledge if it was happening. I couldn't pinpoint it or couldn't give an example, because we were doing an awful lot of building there at one time in the Fayette County schools when we had the tax relief and put it into building program, and we had a lot of building to take place. And I'm sure that there was opportunities at that time for certain things to happen that was not ethical or right to do, but I cannot specifically identify any of that. I thought that it was operated pretty fairly. MOYEN: Um-hm. Something that can definitely get pretty political is trying to raise tax funds-- MACK: Right. MOYEN: to build schools. Do you recall any fights, wins or losses, in attempting to trying to raise revenue? MACK: No, we were pretty fortunate. We won two or three tax referendums here in Fayette County. I know the first one we won, didn't lose a precinct, we won every precinct. And then I know that we had a recall, not a recall, but we had an election for additional funds for school buildings and we won that one. I don't think under Dr. Potts' leadership we lost any revenue measure that we ever took to the public. Of course, we was on double sessions at that time when we picked up every precinct, people were on double sessions and have a group that come in and would be there in the morning and then you'd have a group come in in the afternoon and be there in the evening time. MOYEN: For school? MACK: Yeah, for school. And we was in some churches, we had classrooms in churches, we had some classrooms in old Hamilton Hall which was on Transylvania College campus. We had, ever find, we could find a space we had children. We were growing and before Dr. Potts came here, Dr. Kinslo(??) was the superintendent at the time and he went for a tax referendum and lost it. It was defeated. MOYEN: Now, was that with the county? MACK: The county-- MOYEN: Okay. MACK: And so when Dr. Potts was here about a year, maybe two, then we decided to go for another referendum. It was well organized and PTA involved. They organized the precincts and got the vote out and did an excellent job in advertising and participating and that was an unusual accomplishment at that particular point. MOYEN: Um-hm. In an interview you did, I think probably eleven years ago for education in Kentucky you mentioned being involved in the Central Office's Community Relations Department. What types of activities would you do under that title or that position? MACK: Yeah, that was a new position that they organized that I worked with PTAs and get them involved in school programs, have meetings where they would meet with the faculties and with the other groups, and I'd get to do anything Dr. Potts didn't want to do (both laugh). MOYEN: Did you find that rewarding going out and getting to meet with parents or organizations? MACK: Yeah, I did. I enjoyed that very much and it gives you an opportunity to meet people and to, gave you an opportunity to try to get them to understand the school problems, and it was challenging from the standpoint of going into a situation that was negative and turn it around to be positive. I enjoyed that. MOYEN: Were you able to meet with members of the African-American community in that position? MACK: Absolutely. I spent at least fifty percent of my time working with Afro-American groups and I'd go to their schools, I'd go to their churches, I'd speak to groups, and Reid Johnson, who was an Afro-American, he worked with me. Wherever one went the other one went with so we could, and he was very helpful because he was, be able to, his wife had lived here, he knew quite a few of Afro-Americans, and he could speak their language so to speak, and he knew them and he knew their background, and it was very helpful. MOYEN: Now, did he work for the school system? MACK: Yes, he was with me as my assistant at the time. MOYEN: Okay. [End of Tape 1, Side 1] [Begin of Tape 1, Side 2] MOYEN: Alright. We talked quite a bit about your professional career, I want to switch gears and start talking about how you got involved in politics. We'll go well way back and see if you might be able to respond to this. Can you think of your first political memories or maybe a political race for governor or president or even something in city government that you remember? MACK: Well, there's two aspects of that, I guess, in my life. One was, I worked in Judge Stevens, he was, ran for county judge here. And that was one of the first political campaigns that I ever really got in where I was involved in the process itself. I was walking the streets, giving out literature, calling people and this sort of thing. MOYEN: How old were you when this was occurring? MACK: Oh, I was in the twenties, I guess, somewhere along the line. And then I was highly involved in the tax referendum that the school system had, but I also worked with some other candidates in their races doing the nitty-gritty sorts of stuff. When I was YMCA board secretary, Mr. Weeks was secretary at that time and he organized the first Youth in Government statewide, where the students would go over and for three days I think it was at that time and would play the role of senators and representatives and governors, something similar like they did now. And that really got my appetite sharpened up pretty much to be, to see how that operated. I've been involved in other campaigns. I was involved in Martha Layne Collins' campaign; I was involved in Brereton Jones' campaign; was involved in Ernesto Scorsone's campaigns that he's had. So, I've had a number of opportunities to participate in the process, and enjoyed it. MOYEN: Now, before you were elected to your position, I know you mentioned helping Judge Stevens, do you know about what year that would've been approximately? MACK: No, I really don't. I have no idea when that was. That's been a long time ago. MOYEN: You think you might be able to place it in the decade, was it late '40s or was it '50s, was it later than that? MACK: It was later than that, I'm sure. MOYEN: Okay. MACK: Yeah, later than that, but I'm not sure, it's been a long time. MOYEN: Um-hm. Were your grandparents or anyone else that you were in contact with when you were younger, were they involved in politics at all or not? MACK: Not that I have any recollection of that they were not involved and I cannot think of any person who would have influenced me in my early teens or growing up that was involved in politics or took active part in it. I can't remember of anything that like that may have whetted my appetite for politics. MOYEN: If the people you were around weren't involved was it something that was discussed over the dinner table at all or-- MACK: I can't recall any time where we discussed a political race or a political campaign or anything of that nature. MOYEN: You mentioned when you returned from World War II that after that you didn't miss an opportunity to vote. The Democratic Party in Kentucky was very strong, and you're a Democrat. Do you recall voting or aligning yourself with one side or the other of the factions that developed in the Democratic Party particularly concerning "Happy" Chandler and maybe the Clements-Combs faction of the party? Did either one of those, did you identify yourself with either one of those in any way? MACK: Well, I did with Combs because he was, I thought was one of the best education governors we had. I didn't for Clements because I thought he was, that he was not very friendly to education at that time. So I did take sides in, you know, working for one candidate or the other because of their positions, especially for education, but I never did get involved in the hot political arena, knockdown, drag out, so to speak campaigning, name calling and this sort of thing. But I did take sides when it came down to the general philosophy of a candidate and who I thought could do the best as far as for the people was concerned. MOYEN: Um-hm. You mentioned that there were a number of candidates that you campaigned for and I think you said just a few minutes ago did the nitty-gritty work. What is the nitty-gritty work? MACK: (Laughs), that's working campaigns, sweeping the floors if they're dirty, it's staying late at night, it's calling people, it's work, walking the streets, giving out literature and campaigning, it's those little things that you have a hard time to get people to do. I was never involved in the strategy sessions or any of the hierarchy type of the-- MOYEN: Were those all campaigns that you involved yourself in after your time working with the Fayette County school system or were you involved in those-- MACK: It was during the time that I was with the school system. MOYEN: Okay. Which campaigns specifically were you involved with in those regards? MACK: Well, I worked in Bert Combs' campaign when he ran for governor. I was in the opposite camp of Earle Clements when he was governor, because I didn't think he didn't have the interest, or at least I didn't think he did at that time, of a total educational program. MOYEN: Do you recall who that was that ran against him at that time? MACK: No, I don't know who ran against Earle; it's hard to remember all of that. But I thought Governor Combs made probably the best education governor we've ever had in this state. He got money that it needed, he was dedicated to education and funded it, and I thought he made the best governor. MOYEN: What about the either Louie Nunn or Wendell Ford or Julian Carroll years? Were you involved in any of those campaigns-- MACK: I was-- MOYEN: or any local campaigns at that time? MACK: I was in Governor Ford, I was involved in his campaign and worked in it. I was not involved in Governor Carroll's campaign at that time when he ran. And I was very deeply involved in Martha Layne Collins' bid for governor, and I was involved in Brereton Jones' campaign, worked in the precincts and worked in headquarters and this sort of thing. MOYEN: Now, Martha Layne Collins was an educator, was she someone that you knew before she was lieutenant governor or before she decided to run? MACK: No, I did not know her before she got up in the hierarchy of the party. MOYEN: Okay. So, as you became more involved in politics and either knowingly or unknowingly started to develop your political philosophy, how would you define or describe your political philosophy? Or if that's too broad how would you respond to the question, what's the role of government or state government in particular? MACK: I think that the reason that I am a Democrat was the fact that I thought the Democratic Party was more interested in the common man so to speak, that they were more interested in providing the leadership to give the working class of people a greater opportunity. I thought it, I thought too that they were interested in education, improving roads in this state, trying to make it a better place in which to live. I thought that that was paramount in their philosophy between the two parties at that particular point. I hope that's still true but I'm not sure that we aren't trying to copy each other instead of--the parties aren't as distinct now as they used to be. My father was a Democrat and if you put a broomstick out on the front porch and put a dress on it and called it a Democrat, he'd vote for it. So I was almost like that growing up, but I don't think the parties mean as much now as they used to be. I think they're almost become distinct. I think people nowadays vote for the individual and for philosophy than they do for a party. So I don't think that there is as much distinction between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party as it used to be. There still is with the controlling body of both parties, but I don't think you have the distinction, you know, when you were a Democrat you voted Democratic, I mean there wasn't any question about it. And then if you're a Republican, you vote for a Republican ticket. I'm not sure that that's true anymore. I'm not sure it's is more or less, you vote for the person instead of the party. I don't think parties mean as much as they used to. MOYEN: Do you think that's a positive thing or a negative thing? MACK: I think it could be both. I think it could be positive and I think it could be negative. I think if you, it could be negative if you don't have some goals or some aspirations or if you don't have some ideas of what kind of a party you want then I think it'd be negative. But I think it's good from the standpoint that Democrats always not right and the Republicans are not always right, and so I think that the party has lost its image as far as control is concerned. Say, take Kentucky. Kentucky is greater registered Democrats, but in any national election they'll vote Republican. You take Fayette County, registered Democrat, but most of the times they in the national election they vote Republican. It tells you that something that, you know, that people are voting not the party but the individuals that are running. MOYEN: Now, you touched on this briefly as you were discussing your decision to be a Democrat. What exactly is it that, in your philosophy, that state government should do? MACK: Well, I think government in general, not only state government, the government in general should provide the means by which people can improve their situation in life. I think the government has a role and function to play in providing those opportunities that they, that no one else provides. I think the party, the government most certainly has an opportunity to give the leadership in, for instance, in Kentucky here, the party gave leadership in terms of changing education. The government had a part to play in that, they should have a part to play in it. I think government has a part to play in terms of providing funds for those that cannot help themselves. I think the government has an opportunity to ensure and play a part in providing for social issues that will improve the lives of people, and to me the Democratic Party is more apt to do that than is the Republican Party. MOYEN: As your political philosophy developed when did you start thinking in your mind, this is something that I might want get involved with in a more direct way? MACK: Oh, I think about ten years ago or maybe a little longer I thought about running for office that I thought I'd like to do that and try. Never did have will to push it too hard at that point, but I guess I really had an opportunity to do this in '84 when I ran for a House of Representatives seat. No, I didn't think I could win because David Van Horn who had held that seat for a number of years was an incumbent; it's hard to beat an incumbent. And so I thought that I'd like to probably give it a shot. My son encouraged me to do that. I didn't talk with my wife about it. It's amazing I'm still living with her, but the night that we had to go to Frankfort and register or fill out the information that you need to run, I went over at the last minute. You had to be there at twelve, and I think I got there about ten minutes to twelve and I didn't-- MOYEN: Was that twelve midnight-- MACK: Yeah. MOYEN: or twelve noon? MACK: Midnight. MOYEN: Okay. MACK: And went to the secretary of state's office and filed, and she read about it in the paper the next morning and she was a good sport about it though. I think my son was the only one who thought I could win, and so I got interested in it and I didn't spend but about two or three thousand dollars running in that race, and soundly beat David. And then I ran every time for eight years I served in the General Assembly. I have not had or do not intend to run for any other office. That day's gone by (both laugh). MOYEN: Now, you mentioned your son encouraging you in this. Was there anyone else in the Democratic Party or in the community who just mentioned to you, hey, this might be a good thing for you to do? MACK: No. I can't recall that there was, because it was sort of a spur- of-the-moment type of thing. I didn't discuss with anyone. I didn't get anybody's opinion. I just went out on my own and did it. I didn't speak with anybody in the party here. I didn't talk with anyone at the state level about whether they would support me or not. So I just took out after it myself and not really realizing that I may have a shot at it. I remember that downtown there is a place right across from the courthouse where lawyers go in there and drink a cup of coffee and eat a sandwich and shoot the bull so to speak. And I knew a young attorney who went over there and he was telling me one day that David said, "Well, your not worried about Louie Mack. He can't beat me." And I told him, I said, "Well, there's no need to wake him up, let him sleep a while." And, of course, he was overconfident. So he didn't start working until he found out it was almost too late. And, but I didn't-- MOYEN: Apparently not almost. MACK: Huh? MOYEN: Apparently not almost. MACK: (Laughs), right. But, no, I didn't talk with anyone or didn't get any advice or anything of that nature. MOYEN: Um-hm. What was your reasoning behind going late that night to do it and then coming home and letting your wife find out about it by the paper? MACK: Oh, I don't know, I should probably not have done that (both laugh), but she was not as enthusiastic about it as my son was or that I got to be. And she's a good sport though; she took it pretty good. MOYEN: So, once you signed and said you were gonna run in the primary how did you go about developing a campaign strategy if there was one? What strategy did you take? MACK: Yeah. My theory was that, is you win these at the local level, at the street level. You go out and campaign and you knock on doors and you meet people and you waste a lot of shoe leather and you lose weight in the process, and so I was not committed to trying to raise a whole lot of money, wouldn't go spend a whole lot of money. And I was organized. I got some precinct people to help, and we went in each precinct and I had about ten people that'd go with me each night in the precinct. And you could cover a lot of ground by having ten people because you just knocking on doors of the voters, and I worked it that way. I didn't spend any money hardly at all on newspaper or radio or television. It was pure and simply a door-to-door campaign. MOYEN: Um-hm. You mentioned that you raised about three thousand dollars. Do you recall who that primarily came from? Was that from the state or just from individuals or from any-- MACK: Mainly individuals here, locally. MOYEN: Okay. And what types of things if you're not doing, or running TV or radio ads, what types of things did you spend that money on in the first campaign? MACK: Well, okay. I spent some of televi--, I mean on ra--, newspapers-- MOYEN: Okay. MACK: a small amount. I spent a lot on little trinkets that you give out at the door. I had a little calendar with a, as a marker, a bookmarker, and I even now see people that say, "Well, I still got that bookmarker you gave me." In fact, one fellow brought one by my house not too long ago where he still have that bookmarker and showed me. He wanted to show me that he wasn't pulling my leg, you know. And I spent it on that, of course, I spent it on precinct lists, had to buy some precinct lists, but I just went door to door to talk to people, and three thousand dollars doesn't go very far, even at that day in time. MOYEN: Now, what exactly what type of information would, does a precinct list provide? MACK: Well, it tells you who is Republican and who is a Democrat, tells you how many times they vote or don't vote in an election. Those are the two main things because you don't want to spend your time on going to people's houses that never vote, you see. And it also helps you save your material and your money. So if you can boil it down where fifty percent or more then you can hit those and pretty much those people who go to vote in the election, and that gives you a pretty good swat at the voters. So, that precinct lists do that. They tell you where they live, whether they've phone, whether they have phone numbers, pretty good information. MOYEN: As you were campaigning against an incumbent who had been serving for more than ten years, did you feel like you had a good chance or when did you start feeling like maybe I'm not a long shot anymore, maybe I'm gonna pull this off? MACK: About halfway through I began to sense that we were getting the message across and that he was in trouble because we got people talking to people, letters began to appear in the Lexington Herald-Leader, those letters to the editor supporting me. And the thing that changed that from David to me was, he had voted for an increase in, I believe it was an increase in their salary if I'm not mistaken but, and I ran in opposition to that. That was one of the things I ran against, and that took hold. And he always introduced the Coon Hog, Coon Dog Bill where he tried to get the coon dog as the state dog in Kentucky. Well, I captured that and took the, here he was wasting of public time and public money and carrying on like that. So I felt about halfway through that I had a fighting chance at it. MOYEN: Um-hm. Did you ever use any type of polling information on your own? MACK: No, no. MOYEN: You mentioned that you used his vote for what became known as the Greed Bill, I believe-- MACK: Right. MOYEN: and his attempts to make the coon dog the state dog or the state dog or the commonwealth dog-- MACK: Right. MOYEN: or the official dog. Were there any other things that made you know, those are, you definitely used those well in your campaign, were there any other things that you saw going on in your district or in the state or with your opponent that really caused you to decide to run? MACK: Well, I didn't think David really took that job seriously. I thought he kind of was a clown more than he was a--I don't think, in my opinion at least, I don't think he really took the job seriously and I tried to give that point of view as I was campaigning that I would be a fulltime legislator. I was retired at the time, and that I didn't have to work, and I could spend my time with the constituents and working with them. He was an attorney at the time, and so I think with that there was a three-pronged approach: one was the Greed Bill, one was coon dog, and one was that you could have the fulltime, as a fulltime legislator. And that seemed to work very well. Then the paper supported me; paper came out with two or three editorials. That helped. MOYEN: The night before or the day of elections or the night before elections, can you describe what the feeling is like when you're at that position-- MACK: Well-- MOYEN: about to find out if you'd won or lost? MACK: Yeah, a lot of things go through your mind. You get charged up and you get your emotions all, adrenaline goes. You never know what people are gonna do when they go in that polling place, you know, you never know whether they're going to vote your way or not. Anxious, a lot of anxieties. We had precinct workers at each of the polls who would call in the vote to us. We had a little place over at one of the hotels, a little room over there where we had a board that we, tabulated board, and people would call in and let us know what the precincts' vote was. Wasn't as fast as it is now. Now you, as soon as the polls close you almost know who wins. And so when the precincts start coming in the first five or six I knew we had it won because they were precincts that I had tabulated that these would've been important precincts in the race and we were carrying those by a substantial margin. So I knew we were gonna win it. MOYEN: Um-hm. Now, as best you can on a tape, can you try and describe where the 77th District is or what section of Lexington it is? MACK: I can describe what was at one time. You go from the north end of town over around the Arlington School, around the beltline over here to Georgetown Street, that was here in Meadowthorpe, over on Versailles Road at James Lane Allen Road, clear over around Picadome, Lafayette High School, out Clays Mill Road to, and all in that area, out by Seattle Drive and that section in that area. So it was a real wide range of constituents. You know, it's hard to pinpoint any one in an area that's going to get them all going together. So it was a wide district and so I had to try to as best I could speak to each one and then speak to their interest. MOYEN: Did you have a pretty diverse constituency? MACK: Oh, yes. Yes, very much so. MOYEN: Primarily African-American and white, or were there also Hispanics or-- MACK: Weren't very many Hispanics at that time, but we had Afro- Americans and whites. We had the rich; we had the poor; we had the middleclass. So we had a wide range of diversity that I had to appeal to in each one of the campaigns, probably more so than any other of the representatives. MOYEN: Now, once you're elected to office Martha Layne Collins calls a special session, correct? MACK: Um-hm. MOYEN: So very shortly after your election you're in Frankfort. MACK: Right. MOYEN: What was your, or how would describe your very first experience as a freshman legislator compared with what you thought it might be like, or how did that line up? MACK: Yeah. The first thing I did was before we met I went over to Frankfort and met with the leadership one-on-one and talked with them and tried to get their assistance and win them over in case there was certain pieces of legislation that I was interested in supporting. It was entirely a different type of atmosphere than I was expecting, because when you get on the floor, especially in the House, it's more like a circus than it is a legislative body. But things get done most of the time. What happens in the House, on the floor of the Senate or the House don't, doesn't really mean a whole lot because most of us had already made up our minds before we get on the floor as how we want to vote on an issue. Because you have hearings, you have studies, you have a Legislative Research Commission who furnishes you with aides that help you to gather information, you have lobbyists who you talk to. So I wasn't all that shocked about it when I went there because I had been over there before so many times observing up in the balcony or meeting legislators and talking to them, especially about educational programs. So I really wasn't that out of a sync with it as I might've been if I hadn't had that experience. MOYEN: Um-hm. Do you recall why you were meeting in 1985 during that special session? I'm pretty sure it was about education, do you recall anything about that session in particular? MACK: No, I don't think, nothing that I can recall that stands out about it. It was, I don't--there was a lot of talk about it, there was a lot of information coming out, but I can't recall of any specific thing that stood out that I could recall at this particular point. MOYEN: The newspaper reported that you proposed an amendment during that session to the Education Bill, I believe, that would prohibit expanding county, the number of members that sat on the county school board, I believe it was from five to seven and you said to the paper that you just didn't feel like that was necessary. Was that something that you found out or would've been, or was it presented to you that that was odd for someone the very first time to really be getting involved and active in the legislature or not? MACK: Well, if you're like I am and was at the time you didn't have enough intelligence to keep quiet. I don't recall that happening where I was, took issue with the number of school board, I may have, I'm not saying I didn't. But I went in foolish, fully open to fight for the things that I thought was right. I didn't care whether I'd been there sixty years or been there six days. I had a right to my opinion, I had a right to speak, I had a right to try to get my position over. I did it in the right sort of way, it wasn't, and I respected the leadership. There's no sense in trying to do something that the leadership was not in favor of. I felt comfortable with the leadership. They were, gave me some important assignments on committees and I tried to be as understanding as I could of the situation. MOYEN: When you first went to Frankfort do you recall if Bobby Richardson was still Speaker of the House? MACK: Well, I remember Bobby was up for reelection for that position and that's when-- MOYEN: Mr. Blandford-- MACK: Blandford ran. And that was one of the first major decisions I had to make, casting the vote for one of those. There was about twelve or fourteen of us new members in the House at that time and we held the power of who was going to get that speaker's position. If we all stuck together, it was that close. And I think all of the members of the new legislators all but about two stuck for Blandford, and that beat the speaker. And that was the first major confrontational issue that I faced when I went there. MOYEN: Um-hm. What, as that developed, as that race developed between those two individuals how do the different leaders approach a legislator or what are you told what or will not happen if you vote for a certain person? Did something like that occur? MACK: Well, yeah. I talked with each one of them, I had a one-to-one talk with them. Told them what my interests were, told them what I felt was important as far as legislation was concerned. Of course, they didn't, being a new person you didn't have a lot of clout, but at least you got an opportunity to let them know where you are coming from. And so I talked with both of them, tried to get their philosophy, how they felt about certain things, and from there I made my decision. MOYEN: Um-hm. And were you one of the members that did vote with Don Blandford? MACK: Yes. MOYEN: Okay. MACK: Yeah. MOYEN: As you did that, did that help you because he was able to take the position? Did that put you in a better working relationship with the leadership do you feel? MACK: I don't think it hurt. I don't think it hurt because before the vote I went and told him how I was gonna vote, and I was, I came out of it with being on some important committees. I was vice chair of the Education Committee the first time around, which I thought was pretty important. I was vice chair of the Health and Welfare Committee. So I got some pretty good assignments as far as committee work is concerned, and felt that I was treated fairly in the legislative process as bills come up and as we voted I felt that I had the respect of the House leadership. MOYEN: What types of issues did you very quickly have to deal with as vice chair in the Education Committee or on the Health and Welfare Committee? MACK: Well, both of those are very important committees and very controversial at the time. In the Education Committee we were talking about funding and that was a key issue that we were discussing at that particular point. Also we were talking about curriculum and organization in our schools. And in the Health and Welfare Committee I know there was a real big issue of abortion, also the issue of the right to life, whether we were going to have that. I was a part of that. I was, introduced that piece of legislation. We didn't, weren't able to get it through but at least, so those were some of the big issues that were coming up in both of those committees. [End of Tape 1, Side 2] [Begin of Tape 2, Side 1] MOYEN: Alright, we were talking about the different roles that you served on a committee. One way that committee did something interesting during your first term was you, I believe, cosponsored a bill to repeal, excuse me, what had been called the Greed Bill, which helped boost legislators' retirement package. That didn't go anywhere, did it? MACK: No (both laugh). I didn't go (laughs; unintelligible)--I promised that I would do that and I knew as when I got over there and found out what was going on that I didn't have a chance in the world to get that passed. In fact, I got some real bad vibes from some of the legislators. But I did introduce it, but it didn't even get in the committee, I don't think (laughs). Ernesto Scorsone and I introduced that bill. Of course, he ran on the same platform that I did, I think. But that was not a winner (both laugh). That was a learning experience (laughs). MOYEN: In what ways was that a learning experience besides just that it didn't go anywhere? MACK: Well, I think it was a learning experience from the standpoint that why try to do something that you know is not going to fly, and then also that you put yourself in a real precarious position of not being able to pass some other legislation that was more, much more important than that at that time, and that why make people mad at you. Was it that big an issue and was it worth it? But I did do what I said I was going to do and it turned out alright, because after while they found out there is a new guy that doesn't know what's around the block and we'll just forgive him (both laugh). MOYEN: During the '86 session there was a bill that would change the state's school superintendent from an elected position to an appointed position, and I believe that the paper quoted you as saying that you did support that but if so you wanted to attach an amendment that would say that seven of the thirteen members on that state board would be elected positions. MACK: Right. MOYEN: Do you recall that at all? MACK: I do not recall that. MOYEN: Okay. MACK: I do not. But doesn't mean I didn't happen. It's hard to recall everything that-- MOYEN: Um-hm. MACK: But it sounds like something that I'd be supportive of. MOYEN: Um-hm. Can you think of why that would be something that you would think would be important? MACK: Yeah. I think it would give the people an opportunity to be involved in the process and where they would go to the polls and vote for a person who they felt would represent them and in their thinking. And it would serve that purpose of elected positions just like the school board, local school boards, they are elected. And why not have the state school board the same way? Now they're politics they say (laughs). MOYEN: Right. Someone might say, well, if we have these positions appointed, all these board positions, that will help take the politics out of education. In what ways could you see that politics would still very much be involved in the appointment process? MACK: Yeah. I really don't think that's a true thing, statement, because you can have as much politics by an appointment position as you can by an elected position. It's just not as open, and not as clear, but what happens in those closed meetings and closed doors, a lot of politics can be used. So I don't particularly agree with that position that appointed positions make is less political than an elected position. MOYEN: Um-hm. Is there anything else during that first regular session in 1986 that sticks out in your mind as very important legislation that or anything with Martha Layne Collins that-- MACK: Excuse me. I guess one of the most important things during that administration, I don't know whether it was that term or the other, was Toyota. I thought that was a tremendous issue at that particular time. It was a lot of discussion, a lot of give and take, a lot of people thought we were selling out to the Japanese. They didn't want foreigners in the coun--, in here and taxes, giving them a big tax break and this sort of thing. But I think it's one of the best things that ever happened to this state. It's opened up industry here, and when you think of what happen now, it would, no telling where we would be at the present time. MOYEN: That incentives package that the legislature passed which really was landmark, not only for Kentucky but for a lot of other states-- MACK: Right. MOYEN: in what they gave-- MACK: Right. MOYEN: did you vote for that? MACK: Yes, I did. MOYEN: Did you have any concerns at all that maybe this was a little bit too much or whatever, at the time, not knowing what a great investment that would turn out to be? MACK: Yeah, I had some anxieties about it, had some reservations about it. That was a lot of money and it was a big-ticket item, and you're giving tax free for a number of years. But trying to weigh the good and the bad, and you took a chance really what you were doing. So I thought it couldn't be any worse than what we had, which we didn't have very much at the time. So I think it was one of the more important votes that I cast while I was there. MOYEN: Now, in the '86 primary you faced competition or a challenge from the individual you defeated, correct? MACK: Um-hm. MOYEN: The first time? MACK: Um-hm. MOYEN: How does the campaigning change when you go from being the outsider to being the incumbent, or does it change? MACK: Well, I don't think it changes a whole lot other than the fact that you have a record that you didn't have before. You have to defend that record one way or the other. This is where they can look at your record, see what you voted for, what you didn't vote for. So I think it was, puts you on the defensive more, where you had to justify what you voted for or didn't vote for. So I think it, I think in that way it made the difference. MOYEN: Do you recall any ways that he tried to attack your record or how you were able to defend yourself and run another successful campaign? MACK: No, David ran against me every time I ran. I mean he didn't take defeat lightly (laughs). He brought up the fact that I didn't, I'd promised to get rid of the Greed Bill and I didn't, this sort of thing. He wasn't too negative though I didn't think. I thought that, and I was able to defend the votes that I took because I didn't go way out and vote for some stuff. And my contribution to education at that time was pretty important, so it was not a record that I was ashamed of by any stretch of the imagination. So, it's more of when you are the incumbent you have a defensive battle you have to win as well as an offensive. MOYEN: Um-hm. So, when you returned to the legislature for the '88 session we had a new governor, Kentucky has a new governor in Wallace Wilkinson. You mentioned specifically earlier having campaigned for Martha Layne Collins and then for Brereton Jones, did you intentionally leave out Wallace Wilkinson? Did you decide not to campaign for him for-- MOYEN: I didn't know a whole lot about Governor Wilkinson at the time, so I didn't get involved. But let me say, well, I did serve under four governors: Collins, Jones, Wilkinson, and who else was it that I served under? Well anyway, I thought Wilkinson was the best governor of the ones. He was fair. He was honest, let you know if he didn't want to go, do something he'd tell you, "No, you can't do, I'm not gonna do that." Or if you're going in to ask him, would you support a piece of legislation, he said, "Yes," and he stuck with it. He wasn't wishy- washy. So I, thought Governor Wilkinson was a good governor. MOYEN: Um-hm. In what ways did his governing style differ from that of Martha Layne Collins or Brereton Jones? MACK: Yeah. He was a little bit more aggressive. He was, had his mind made up about certain things and then wasn't gonna change them a whole lot. He had his own way of doing things. He wasn't what I'd call a great compromiser, but he fought for what he thought was right and he didn't try to pull wool over your eyes. I thought he made a good governor. MOYEN: Um-hm. Now, before you were elected to the House, up through the '70s the governor, at least the way the history is told, the governor pretty much dominated in terms of the legislature in what the governor wanted the legislature to vote for and then when John Y. Brown comes in this moves toward legislative independence begins and continued under Martha Layne Collins. Was there talk about legislative independence during your first term under Collins or especially under Wilkinson as maybe some legislators may have felt like that was trying to be taken back because Wilkinson was more assertive? MACK: It was more under Wilkinson than it was Collins that the power was about to erode from the House and the Senate and go back into the governor's office. I was not there at the time when the governor had complete power over both houses. My understanding from listening to some of the legislators who were there, that each day you'd get a list of things that you could vote for and a list of things you couldn't vote for, and that the governor controlled the House and the Senate both. That, from what I was told, changed tremendously under Brown's leadership because he was a hands-off governor so to speak. He didn't get involved in; he didn't want to be bothered with mundane running of the office. And that's when the House and the Senate was able to get control and have the power taken from the governor to them. I didn't see any waning away from that under Wilkinson or other Jones or under Martha Layne. MOYEN: Um-hm. Now, during Wilkinson's term I believe you once again sponsored the living will-- MACK: Right. MOYEN: bill. MACK: Right. MOYEN: What, some people viewed that as controversial. Do you know what the sides of the argument were? Why did some people see that as controversial? MACK: You had the right-to-life people coming over strong opposing that piece of legislation. They thought that you were taking something that, making a decision for people that you shouldn't make, that that was not God's way of doing things so to speak. And I was not able to get that passed that first time. Second time it came up, Ernesto and I cosponsored it, and we did get it passed. But it was the right-to-life organization that brought out the big guns and I think they sold the House leadership especially on the fact that that was not a decision that we ought to be involved in, that that was something that was not for man to decide. MOYEN: And how would you, or how did you argue successfully against that? MACK: Well-- MOYEN: Or maybe unsuccessfully (Mack laughs) first and then successfully? MACK: I guess the main thing that we argued the first go-round with it was that you're not telling people what to do, you're letting them make a decision for themselves. This is not saying that you are going to pull the plug unless that person want it to pull. It was their decision, it was each individual's right if they wanted to have a living will that would say don't give me, don't put any life support on me. We used that same argument in the second go-round as we did the first. It was an educating process. The more you talked about it the more, and the more people understood what it was all about. I think it made a little more palatable for them, that when you talk about living will it is, has a different connotation to some than it does to others. So I think it was a educated process, and the second time I think more people were for it. MOYEN: Did you feel like you really had to try and convince people that it would, that it was something that was different than, say, euthanasia? MACK: Oh yeah. Yeah. Yeah, yeah, you had to do that. Yeah. Two different things altogether. MOYEN: Right, um-hm. But were people concerned that that was essentially what it was? MACK: Oh, yeah. Yeah, absolutely. I think this was a step towards that. If you do this then the next thing, you know, you'll get us old people out here and pull the plug on us, you know. Well, I had a, I didn't have a hard time just arguing that basis because they could look at these grey hairs and find out I wasn't about to introduce legislation where I was going let someone else take control of my life. So, I just told them to look at these grey hairs, but that opposition didn't go too far. MOYEN: Another piece of legislation that you were very involved with dealt with removing ineffective tax assessors for property values. Do you recall what role that may have played in terms of funding education that having tax assessors who weren't properly doing their jobs, what problems that might pose? MACK: Yeah, that was one of the reasons for supporting that kind, that problem, that piece of legislation. Because if you had professional evaluators in there making decision in terms of property assessment, and you're talking about something political and that particular aspect of government was very political, where you would get a true assessment. And I thought at least at that time that you could have property evaluators who were a little bit more professional, less political, that you'd bring in more money for schools, that your assessments would go up according to the law. MOYEN: Now, did you feel like the fact that other counties had tax assessors who were essentially compromised or politicized that that did harm counties where you had upright tax assessment? MACK: Oh yeah, I think so. Yeah, I do. MOYEN: In what ways would that pose a problem? MACK: Well, you would, if you, see, if you had County A over here who had a tax assessor who was, according to the law, was evaluating taxes at the evaluation level, well, that school system would profit from that. But over here at B if you had them where they were not evaluated according to the law, then that gave that school system less money to operate from, and they couldn't compete for teachers or they couldn't supply, buy supplies and this sort of thing. So when we decided to go to a free market evaluation, I mean by that: you evaluate it according to what the property really was worth, a hundred percent value, supposed to be. But that made a big difference in terms of getting more money for schools or for other things too. MOYEN: You also cosponsored some legislation helping create preschool programs, didn't you? MACK: Um-hm. MOYEN: Were those essentially nonexistent before your legislation, or how were they funded when they were? Do you recall? MACK: Yeah. You didn't, you, they--early childhood education is what it was. I wanted to make it a part of the total school program. Up to that point it, if the school system had it they had to pay for it themselves, and only those people that could afford to go to those were leaving a lot of the population out. So I thought it was a good opportunity to try to make that a part of the total school, for a public school program and fund it just like you would the rest of it. MOYEN: Okay. The other big education issue that develops during Wilkinson's term is what eventually becomes known as KERA. Do you recall how that took place and how that issue moved to the forefront essentially revamping the education system? MACK: Yeah. I think here again you find a strong leader in Governor Wilkinson who forced the issue so to speak and made us as legislators, both House and Senate, face up to the fact. Then you had that court decision that came out which was really the changing, the factor that made the change necessary because when the courts ruled that you didn't have a free public school education supported by dollars that that made a difference, and I thought that was a major step. MOYEN: For a while it seemed as though Wilkinson was saying that he knew there needed to be education reform but he wasn't sure about going along with the tax package that would be needed. Was there some point at which he came to the House or he came to the Senate or where it was really clear that that was something that he was going to support? MACK: Yeah. You remember he tied it into the lottery. MOYEN: Um-hm. MACK: Do you remember? And then the lottery was supposed to be earmarked for education. That never was the case; that was never the case. People thought that was the case but the lottery was never tied into education to say that the edu--, that the dollar from the lottery was going to go into education. That was not in the bill. That was never a part of it. That's the way he sold it, I think, but I don't think that that was ever written into the law itself, or at least I didn't interpret it that way. And I think when he sold it to the, remember you had to have a, pass a law making the lottery, you know, and so I don't think it was ever intended though for every penny of the lottery to go to education. But that made it easier to vote for it in terms of you weren't taxing the people, you know, you were just letting them make a choice or whether or not they want to spend the money on the lottery that would go into education. MOYEN: Did you, do you recall if you voted for or against the legislation for the amendment referendum on the lottery? MACK: I'm sure I probably did, but I don't recall, but I'm not sure. I probably did. MOYEN: Okay. MACK: Because I feel very strongly if you can let the people vote on something let them vote on it, and then they can't get mad at you. MOYEN: Right (both laugh). Throughout these different terms that you're serving when I was preparing and reading, very often you quoted pretty specifically the percentage of your constituents that you felt were in favor of this. How did you go about conducting those polls and how important were they do you think to your success? MACK: I think they were very important. I'm glad you mention that because I'd forgotten it, that I took a poll of, I sent out a questionnaire, and I tried to get questions that were hot-item issues and how they felt. It was hard for me to get a good reading because of the complexity of the district and, but I'd get percentages back about sixty percent sometimes of that, which was a pretty good number. MOYEN: And they were mailings that you would do? MACK: Mailings, yeah. And so I mailed them out to each one of the voters in the district, and the--I had the philosophy that I represented the people. I didn't represent myself. I voted for some stuff I'm sure that I wouldn't have voted for if was voting for myself, but the people in the district felt that was important and I voted for it. MOYEN: Can you think of any specific examples of that, where you thought, I think I would vote differently on this but sixty-five or seventy percent of my constituents feel otherwise? MACK: I really don't recall off the top of my head of something like that, but I'm sure that I did because I felt pretty keenly about it. And I, a lot of times you would not believe that by taking a survey that you had a different opinion other than your constituents to begin with, but I can't recall of any offhand. MOYEN: Um-hm. During the, your 1990 election, that was a really packed election. You ran again, as did Van Horn, as did another individual, do you recall, in the primary, who you ran against? MACK: Yeah, he was an Afro-American. What was that, I can't recall his name. MOYEN: George Logan? MACK: That's it. MOYEN: Is that who it was? MACK: That's it, thank you. Yeah, George Logan. MOYEN: And you managed to win that primary and then in the general election you ran against Kelly Buckley(??)-- MACK: Right. MOYEN: Is that correct? MACK: Right. MOYEN: That election particularly towards the end there was a lot of stuff written about signs and stuff, what was all that and what were you accused of and-- MACK: Taking up their signs. MOYEN: Okay. MACK: Yeah, he accused me of taking up their signs. But I didn't do that, but that's part of politics. He was grabbing at any straws that would--and, of course, I could've brought out a lot of stuff on him that I didn't bring out and, but the paper took care of it (laughs). MOYEN: When you defeated him and returned, in your last couple of years one really important thing happened, I think, during the special session in '91 to help redistrict the state with the new population information, you announced that you wouldn't run. MACK: Right. MOYEN: What were your reasons for announcing that you weren't gonna run again? MACK: Well, yeah. One, I thought that I'd been there long enough, eight years. Two, I just didn't have the appetite for it. I didn't feel charged up to go out here to walk these streets and do the campaigning that was necessary. The third thing, and probably the most important at that time, we were going to have to district in this area and be sure that we got an Afro-American district. If I would've stayed in that would've made that a much more difficult thing to do. So I decided because of those three reasons, especially the Afro-American situation, I decided that I'd just drop out and let, then it made it much more easy for the others to draw their districts where they wouldn't have to be in a dogfight and have hurt feelings and this sort of thing and give an Afro-American a chance to represent this district. But those were the three reasons. MOYEN: Um-hm. So, your dropping out helped with the redistricting in what ways? Was Lexington losing a district at all, or in what ways would that, it definitely did, I'm just trying to figure out how that made a difference? MACK: Well, you had to create another district. You had to create another district so that you'd have an Afro-American district, which made it possible. If I would've stayed in some of the others, especially Ernesto, would've had a big change in his district and one or two others. Instead of making that possible, I thought it would be just as easy for me to get, because I wasn't interested in being a fulltime, lifetime politician. I just didn't feel that I wanted to do that, and so I dropped out and gave them a chance to get that other district. It didn't make, it didn't add any district, it just made it possible for them to have a district, they kept the old 77th but made it different. MOYEN: Um-hm. Also during your last session Brereton Jones becomes very involved, or pushes for healthcare reform. Do you recall anything about that push for healthcare? MACK: Yeah, I remember that, but it was so loosely done and it was so broad in prospect that it didn't have a chance. It just didn't have a chance. There was a lot of lobbying from different groups about it, and he didn't have a chance. He didn't do a good job of his homework in terms of trying to get it all together before he brought the General Assembly. So he didn't fly with it. MOYEN: Um-hm. Of course, the big negative that comes back right toward the end of your term or your career is the BOPTROT scandal, and that kind of explodes on the scene I guess. Did, during your eight years there, had you gotten the feeling that this kind of stuff was going on at all, that maybe it was hard to put your finger on but that, but there were these unethical things going on at all. Did you have that-- MACK: I really had no idea. No one ever approached me. No one ever offered me anything. I didn't have anyone come and say, "If you'll vote for this piece of legislation I'll slip five hundred dollars under the table." I had none of that. I had no idea that was happening. I was shocked when it came out, and I just didn't have any idea that it was happening. And I, let me say too, that in my experience there I felt that most of the people that were in the General Assembly were pretty honest, honorable people who really were trying to do what they felt was best for the state and for their constituents. Now, you always have some, you have preachers that aren't very ethical either, you have school teachers that are not, you have doctors that are not. You always have some when you have that large number of people that may not want to play by the rules of the game, but I think the majority of people that I had contact with were very honorable, honest citizens who wanted to do the right thing. MOYEN: You mentioning that, were there any specific individuals that you can think of off the top of your head, either within your party or across party lines, that you really did develop close friendships with or really admired for their political career activities and-- MACK: Joe Clarke, I think you mentioned him a while ago. Jim LeMaster, I thought that the majority floor leader of the Senate, I thought was, had an educational background. He had been the chairman of the board in a number of districts. Joe Wright and those type of people I admired and felt that they were doing the right thing. MOYEN: Um-hm. In the wake of BOPTROT, you were a member of the Legislative task force for government ethics. Is that correct? MACK: Right. MOYEN: What types of issues did you have to deal with and how did the atmosphere in Frankfort made that either easier or more difficult? MACK: Made it a lot easier. I don't think it would've ever passed if it hadn't been for that. And I was proud of the part I played in that because the bill that was passed was majorly my bill. They, I was the one who introduced it in the committee. Then it went to the whole committee for discussion and so forth and they changed it somewhat but not appreciably. It was one of these situations where people demanded that something be done and that you didn't have a choice really. But I thought it was the right thing to do. I was proud that I had sponsored it, I was proud that I voted for it in the committee, and before I got to vote for it in the House. And it made it much easier with BOPTROT coming along, because I don't think it had ever passed it otherwise. MOYEN: Were there any other specific pieces of legislation dealing with education or otherwise that you can think of during your legislative career that you were particularly proud of? MACK: Well, I was proud of all of the school legislation that I took part in, and especially if it dealt with teachers or salaries, or this sort of thing. Overall, I think you've covered it pretty well. MOYEN: Thank you. MACK: You've done a good job. MOYEN: There's something else that I want to ask you about. After you retired from your House seat, you've still been very involved in a number of civic activities, haven't you? MACK: Yes, sir. MOYEN: Can you name a few of those? MACK: Well, I'm Kiwanis Club, I'm active in the Kiwanis Club. I'm active in my church, teach Sunday school class. Kiwanis Club I'm active in. I was president of the Meadowthorpe Neighborhood Association out here for fifteen years. MOYEN: I read that you had a difficult time trying to find a successor. Is that true? MACK: For this position? MOYEN: Or for the Meadowthorpe-- MACK: Yeah, I did. Yeah. Had to pay him a little more salary than I was getting (laughs). Yeah, if you take these association presidencies, that takes a lot of time if you do it right. It really does. It really takes a lot of time. But we were able to find a good man here in that community who has done a good job and has given a lot of time to it. But those are some things I've been active in. MOYEN: And you still go to the legislature now, not necessarily as a lobbyist but as a doorkeeper? MACK: I'm a doorman (laughs). That's right. MOYEN: And what exactly does the doorman do? MACK: Well, you have a certain area that you're responsible for and keep lobbyists out, don't let people on the floor that doesn't supposed to be there, and just kind of act as a monitor of seeing that the halls are clear for legislators as they come in and out and this sort of thing. I enjoyed that, yeah. I renewed some of my experiences with the people that was there and got to meet new people, and I enjoyed it. MOYEN: Is that something, do you have any idea, has that been a tradition for a long time? MACK: Oh, yes. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. They've had that for a number of years. MOYEN: Looking back on your career in the legislature can you think of any, even though they might be anecdotal, any particular stories that you think are funny or witty or just odd about things that happened in the legislature? MACK: No, I can't recall of anything that to my mind at this particular point about it. I'm sure there are some things happened, but they just don't register. MOYEN: Uh-huh. Is there anything else that you like to mention about your career? MACK: No, I just appreciate you coming by and spending this much time and help me to recall some of the stuff that I'd forgotten. MOYEN: Well, I certainly thank you. MACK: You did a good job with it. MOYEN: Well, thank you. MACK: Yes, sir. [End of interview] Mack (House 1986-1992, 77th district; Democrat) discusses his upbringing in Lexington, his career as an educator and how it influenced his legislative decisions, changes in Lexington over a period of 50 plus years, his involvement in local campaigns of several governors, his own grassroots campaign philosophy, his impressions of incumbent opponent David Van Horn and several governors, and key legislation during his tenure. Highlights include education reform, the BOPTROT affair, and the living will bill. insert here