Jim Hunt Takes the Stage, 1976

Gov. Hunt reads to children as part of the Summer Reading program.  Image from the State Archives

On April 5, 1976, James Baxter Hunt Jr. announced his intention to run for governor of North Carolina.

With 65 percent of the vote, Hunt handily won the election in 1976. He served as governor for a record-breaking sixteen years—with an eight-year break in between two sets of consecutive four-year terms.

Image of Governor James Baxter Hunt Jr.

During Hunt’s administration, North Carolina became a model of educational reform and the growth of technology. He set higher standards for teachers and students and sought to raise teacher salaries. A signature part of Hunt’s agenda was helping young children grow and develop. To that end, he advocated for the establishment of the Division of Child Development and created the non-profit SmartStart to provide assistance to preschoolers.

Hunt also helped position North Carolina as a center of technology. He helped start the N.C. School of Math and Science in Durham, and worked to found the Microelectronics Center of North Carolina to give companies and students the opportunity to work with technology and grow the economy.

After a generation in the public eye, Hunt left office in 2001 as one of the most familiar actors ever on the stage of North Carolina politics.

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