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Title: Oral History Interview with Koka Booth, July 6, 2004. Interview K-0648. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Booth, Koka, interviewee
Interview conducted by Van Scoyoc, Peggy
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Jennifer Joyner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2007
Size of electronic edition: 76 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2007.
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.
The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2007-00-00, Celine Noel, Wanda Gunther, and Kristin Martin revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2007-09-25, Jennifer Joyner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Koka Booth, July 6, 2004. Interview K-0648. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series K. Southern Communities. Southern Oral History Program Collection (K-0648)
Author: Peggy Van Scoyoc
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Koka Booth, July 6, 2004. Interview K-0648. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series K. Southern Communities. Southern Oral History Program Collection (K-0648)
Author: Koka Booth
Description: 82.3 Mb
Description: 17 p.
Note: Interview conducted on July 6, 2004, by Peggy Van Scoyoc; recorded in Cary, North Carolina.
Note: Transcribed by Peggy Van Scoyoc.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series K. Southern Communities, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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Interview with Koka Booth, July 6, 2004.
Interview K-0648. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Booth, Koka, interviewee


Interview Participants

    KOKA BOOTH, interviewee
    PEGGY VAN SCOYOC, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
Today is Tuesday, July 6th, 2004. This is Peggy Van Scoyoc and I am in the office of Mr. Koka Booth. We are going to talk about all of his years of service to Cary. Can you tell me, first of all, when you arrived in Cary? Were you born here?
KOKA BOOTH:
No, but I got here as soon as I could. August 12, 1971.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
So you've been here a good long time.
KOKA BOOTH:
I've been here a long time.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
What brought you here?
KOKA BOOTH:
My wife was from Rocky Mount, North Carolina. I had been in the coal business and we sold the coal mines. I wanted to bring my wife back home because she'd been good about staying with me up in the hills of West Virginia. So I thought I should come back here. And, in truth, we had two young lads who were in middle and high school, and there was no future for them up there.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
So you saw more promise here.
KOKA BOOTH:
I surely did. Research Triangle Park was quite an attraction.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
That makes sense. Were there a lot of industries in the Park at the time you arrived?
KOKA BOOTH:
Well, IBM had arrived in the Park in '63 and Monsanto came some short time after that. From '63 to '71 they grew steadily. So yes, there was, we were getting some nice industry out there. IBM was fabulous because they grew very rapidly out there and that attracted other companies who had reason to be near them. [unclear]
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
So after you arrived here, what was your first position?
KOKA BOOTH:
I became active in the Band Boosters. My son was in the band and Cary had an outstanding high school band. We became very active in the band. It was invited to the

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Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California. Then we went to the Cotton Bowl and the Orange Bowl and the Presidential Inauguration and pro-football games both for the Washington Redskins and, you know. So our family life was all wrapped up in our children. Our son played football and so, of course, we were very supportive of him being on the football team. That just put us in the midst of the mix with so many people that we met through our children, and were very active in supporting the band and the schools and things. Being a relatively small community at that time, it was easy to know a lot of people. So that's the way that happened.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
How did you get onto the Council?
KOKA BOOTH:
There was a gentleman who was an insurance man that was elected to the Town Council. He got transferred to South Carolina. At that time there was real interest in going to a business oriented type of community. Because of the activity that I had had with the community, they were trying to choose somebody that would be that element of our community. So I was appointed to the Town Council. I thought I would serve that term and that would be the end of it. In fact, I didn't even know you got paid for serving. I had never gotten paid for any other service like that and I wasn't expecting it. Shortly thereafter, Mayor Fred Bond told me, "Oh, you will run again. When you accepted this, you also accepted you would run again." So I did do that.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
And won, obviously. How long were you on the Council?
KOKA BOOTH:
Twenty-two years.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
Oh my. So you saw a lot of changes in that time.
What was Cary like when you first joined the Council, and then how did it change?
KOKA BOOTH:
Couldn't buy a pair of shoes for my boys here in town. Two doctors, I think we had two traffic lights. There was not a sidewalk from Ashworth Drugs to the elementary school. Great community. People were absolutely wonderful. The school was good. Just what you would

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expect with a small town atmosphere. It was here. A lot of new people. What was interesting, everybody, a lot of people were new and so you didn't feel like the new kid on the block, and our kids did not feel like the new kid on the block because there were so many new people. So it was easy. Everybody was looking to make new friends, so that was very easy for everybody. A lot of people from many different locations came here.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
But there really wasn't an industry base at that time?
KOKA BOOTH:
We had Taylor Biscuit Company was located here. There was W.R. Grace had a facility that, they filled the drums with chemicals for agriculture next to that plant. Other than that in the "city limits" that was about it. We had some facilities relatively close, but they weren't in the city and so the city didn't get any taxes out of them.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
So at that time, the only tax base that we really had…
KOKA BOOTH:
It was 9% non-residential and 91% residential.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
Wow. Was there a lot of development going on yet?
KOKA BOOTH:
Building was a very active business in Cary. When I moved here, shortly thereafter, Pirate's Cove started to be built. You can see the size that turned out to be. Then in about '72, '73, Kildaire Farms announced their development. MacGregor, we were not the ninth house to be built in MacGregor, but we were the ninth family to move into MacGregor. So that's kind of the trend that you saw suddenly develop. There was a development off of Maynard Road called Wishing Well Village that they developed a number of homes. There was a development off of Pamlico Drive that built some homes. That's, you see where the areas were being located. Nice homes but everybody was traveling someplace else to work.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
So when and how did that change?

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KOKA BOOTH:
As I remember it, I think when the, there was a group of a hundred people got together at MacGregor one day and said, we had to do something to change directions here in town. They agreed to put some money together and buy some land and have it rezoned for industrial development. They bought land over off of Old Apex Road and the first company that built there was the pharmaceutical aerosol group that built over there from England. Then the land between U.S. 1 and 64 across the street from MacGregor was zoned for an industrial park. There was a great deal of raised eyebrows about that, but the very first industry we recruited there was Firetrol from Erie, Pennsylvania who made fire suppressant equipment. You can go there today and it looks like an office building. Then Container Graphics, of course the Lord Corporation built a research facility there. We got a company out of California that built sprinkling equipment called Hunter Industries. There are just so many really top notch, high quality industries that were attracted to that park. That was kind of the turning point. We were shooting for a goal of 60% residential and 40% non-residential. Came close two or three times to retaining that, but it was always a goal and we never quite met it. But when we raised that bar and started getting industry, and getting good industry, it made so much difference. Of course now, places like SAS came to Cary in 1980 and just absolutely made all the difference in the world for being here. When they moved here, they came here with twenty people from Raleigh.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
Only twenty? How many employees does SAS have in Cary now?
KOKA BOOTH:
4,000 plus here today with 900 acres and 24 buildings. The company is 10,000 employees worldwide, almost. Now you can see what that difference makes to a community. People like SAS contribute so far more than tax base to a community. It is unbelievable what they do. The employees who are making good salaries and things, they can contribute so much. They like the arts, they like professional sports, they like college sports. They like for their kids to have

Page 5
nice soccer fields, like SAS Soccer Park and things like that. It makes so much difference. So that was the vision that we had. Most of the people on the Council had young children and we kept saying, we just want it so our kids can stay here and work if they want to. That was our goal.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
What attracted companies in the beginning, before you had any real industry here?
KOKA BOOTH:
I think the quality of life. I definitely think. You say, well, Cary always had the colleges close by and state government was close by and the airport. I have had so many people to say to me, well the reason Cary was so successful and they got all the things is because of our proximity to the airport, the proximity to the university system, proximity to other things. And that's true. But let me ask you a question - who's the closest to all of those in our area? Who is the closest to Research Triangle Park and the airport?
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
Cary?
KOKA BOOTH:
No, Morrisville. Why didn't Morrisville become the… and I'm not putting Morrisville down, please don't misunderstand. But I truly believe that the leadership made the difference.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
Tell me about the mayors that…
KOKA BOOTH:
I think we've had great leadership in Cary. Fred Bond, I tell people I tried to model my style of running a meeting after Fred. He was wonderful at running a meeting. He was very friendly and open but very stern, ran a quick meeting and a timely meeting. If you couldn't reach an agreement, let's put it off and we'll come back to it. There's no use staying here all night. I give him credit for a lot of foresight in bringing the planning director on board and starting the beginning of a professional way of looking at things.
I think Harold Ritter was a great mayor because Harold was interested in aesthetics. I give him credit for a lot of the beauty that you see in the town, with the crepe myrtle trees downtown and the planted medias and the landscaping ordinance that we have and the sign ordinance and

Page 6
things. You had, at the point in time, this was very necessary. So I give these two gentlemen a lot of credit for that.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
Now the sign ordinance made a big difference.
KOKA BOOTH:
I think the sign ordinance was what just made us all, today it makes us different. The sign ordinance was really put together by our business community. I think they implemented the writing of a tougher ordinance than most elected officials would. They took a lot of trashy signs down. If you notice today, the sign can't be taller than the building, colors and things. We've had a lot of comments. When I hear about people wanting to change today, it really is interesting to me because the thing that really made us different and great, and we had really big companies like Phillips 66 and Toys R Us, to really debate a sign. We held our ground, and I think it's made a great improvement. I can tell you lots of stories of meetings with top officials that told us that they were going to do it their way. Let me give you a good example. Where else have you seen a Walmart that is red brick on all four sides with a green and white sign on the front? You don't ever see one. See the difference? That's what I'm talking about. This was the first place in the world that didn't have a McDonalds golden arch.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
Really? And we've got plenty of McDonalds around town.
KOKA BOOTH:
Yes, and that was not easy, but they blend in to the community. I don't think, at the time people would debate we hurt people by doing that. I don't think we hurt them at all. I think we made a better looking place and made them more compatible with the community. I'm really happy to see the way the Town's turned out.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
At one time, about the time of the sign ordinance, didn't you also vote some money to really upgrade downtown? Was that the same time?

Page 7
KOKA BOOTH:
Yes, we had a bond referenda and as I recall $750,000, and we put in the new lighting systems down there and we put in brick sidewalks. We took the overhead lines which were the ugliest, nastiest electric power lines that you've ever seen and it was just hideous the way it looked. It was removed, put over on the railroad track and revitalized downtown. As I remember, in a short period of time, less than a year or so, about twenty-two businesses popped up down there. Downtown has always, in my opinion, been very very active and people have a lot of interest in downtown, and continues to be. A lot of new structures going down there. I think it's boosted that and it never, in my opinion, never died. I glad of that. I'm proud of downtown. I think there's some things happening like the elementary school, to think it's the oldest public school in North Carolina, can be realized. Revitalizing it, hopefully we can make an auditorium and performing arts center out of that for the children. That would be wonderful.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
Tell me about the changes in the parks and rec?
KOKA BOOTH:
When I moved here, as I remember, we had about seven acres of parkland, which was Mills Field next to Triangle Swim Club, next to the Lutheran church close to the high school. It was a baseball field and as I have been told, it was pretty much developed by the Jaycees. We had a couple little strips of land down in old Cary that were little open space areas, not much. We had an ordinance that required developers to donate a portion of their land to recreation when they built. For instance, like MacGregor and Regency and Kildaire Farm and all those, and acquired a lot of land. Then we went out and bought Bond Park and made a deal with the county that the spillway could be a part of the park. It was so far out that people didn't think it would ever be used. Of course, it's almost in the center of the town now. Not that you're smarter than somebody else, but you have so much more input and you have to have a vision too. I think there was a lot of vision in some of these things and today we have some absolutely magnificent parks

Page 8
in Cary. We do. Thomas Brook Park, the Robert Godbold Park, the Harold A. Ritter Park, Dad Dunham, all of those.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
So when you were on the Council, what other things did you address and bring in to Cary that hadn't been there before? The water treatment?
KOKA BOOTH:
Yes, we were dependent of Raleigh for water and waste water treatment. Raleigh changed their philosophy. We were a part of the larger system where Raleigh had received federal money for this system and they were a lead agency and they got ready to expand the plant which they needed to do. They told us, very businesslike, that they were going to a profit oriented based water system. So it was time for us to look. At one time Cary had been on wells, and the water was red and it was very difficult for women to wash clothes because they always turned out rusty. So we, after doing a thorough engineering study, we decided with a great deal of difficulty to build our own water and waste water treatment plants to become independent. We were told that it wouldn't be cost effective to do that but we would own the keys to do that. Today it is not only that we own the keys, it is very cost effective for us to do that too. I think it was two of the major decisions - that and Cary Parkway and Maynard Road loop being completed are some of the highlights of infrastructure that just made us a really different place to live.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
Are other communities dependent on Cary's water treatment plants?
KOKA BOOTH:
Apex and Cary own the water plant together. Morrisville buys water from us and the airport buys water from us. A portion of the Research Triangle Park uses the water system of Cary. That may have changed in recent years. I don't know, I haven't kept up with that part of it, but anyway, it allowed Wake County to develop the Research Triangle Park - Wake County side which they weren't able to do…
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
because of water. So Cary's water plant made that possible?

Page 9
KOKA BOOTH:
I think so. Cary goes clear out to Globe Road on the other side of the airport. People don't realize we have an industrial park out that far. Did you know that?
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
No, I didn't.
KOKA BOOTH:
So it's not running a line as far as you think. It's just across the road, so to speak.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
What happened with schools during the time you were on the Council?
KOKA BOOTH:
After we'd been here three or four years, the Raleigh city school system and the Wake County system merged, even against the vote of the public. Merged, even against the vote of the public, merged. Cary had a wonderful school system, a very very high rated school system. There was a great battle to keep that from happening because Cary fought it. I think Cary suffered greatly when that happened because as Cary continued to grow, in my humble opinion, they didn't get fair share of the new schools, and so, as you know, a school was built in Apex rather than in Cary, and Athens Drive rather than Cary. Those two schools at that time should have probably been Cary schools.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
So why weren't they…
KOKA BOOTH:
Politically couldn't have.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
How has that changed over time?
KOKA BOOTH:
Well, we have Green Hope High School now, and we've got West Cary Middle School has been greatly enhanced and improved, and there's a new Cary elementary school and there's all the schools at Dillard Drive and Dillard Middle, and all of them have been a big boon in Cary. But they could have been built to keep up with the growth.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
It's phenomenal.
KOKA BOOTH:
Yes. And Cary was the leader in the bond referendum for that to happen too. We were the ones that drove the engine to see that those schools were built. And we got some

Page 10
agreements that they would be built in Cary in order to help us support the bond referendum. I don't mean to sound like sour grapes about that, but that's one of the things that I, looking back on it, if Cary had had the money, which we didn't have, I may quickly add, to build a private Cary city school system, I think Cary would be even a better community today. I really do. Now a lot of people would say no, a county system's best. You can do a lot of things, but I think the level here, the bar was higher. I think Cary Academy proves that.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
Cary Academy was built by SAS.
KOKA BOOTH:
A private school and given to the community by Dr. Goodnight and his wife Anne and John Sall and his wife Ginger. It is a not-for-profit private school.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
Is it fully open?
KOKA BOOTH:
Oh yeah. We have grades 6 through 12, and 100% of the graduates in the last five years have gone to college.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
A hundred percent!
KOKA BOOTH:
That's the reason I made the statement I made. I really believe that. Because I think Cary had everything going for it that if we could have had the school system we could have had a great school system. We just couldn't, you know, you can't build a building that cost $30-40 million. This is just not in the cards to have that kind of money.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
So now tell me about becoming mayor. You were first Mayor Pro-tem?
KOKA BOOTH:
Yes. You know that Mayor Pro-tem thing was kind of a ceremonial thing here, not really much to do with that. Everybody has committees and things, and that was, but it was just a ceremonial thing more than anything. I talked to Harold Ritter and he said, he told me he wasn't going to run. So I told him that if I was going to be on the Council and spend that much time and doing what I was going to do, I was going to take a shot at it. So that's the reason I decided to

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run. If you're put that much time into something, and there wasn't any reason for me to do that because they weren't doing something. It was just, every person, Harold and Fred and all the rest have had ideas and there were just some ideas I wanted to try for myself. I have repeatedly said this because it's true, but without support from your fellow Council members, I don't care what kind of ideas you have, if you don't have their support, you can't do anything. That's the way of life.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
What year was this that you ran the first time?
KOKA BOOTH:
I finished, my last night was December, '99 but counted, swearing in takes place in 2000, so I guess '88. I think that's right.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
About twelve years?
KOKA BOOTH:
Yes, I was Mayor twelve years, right, yes.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
So what all happened during your mayor-ship?
KOKA BOOTH:
Well, we built the train station, and didn't even have any trains coming to stop there. We built the water treatment plant. We built the north Cary, let's see… Harold had just finished his term when we dedicated the south Cary plant, so that was kind of a straddle thing. We bought the land and built the Thomas Brooks, we built all the recreational facilities at Green Hope High School and the twenty tennis complex. We built Harold Ritter Park. We bought the land for Regency amphitheater. I think I'm telling you right that I was still on the Council when we signed the contract to build it. We certainly had everything in place. It was touch and go out with Regency Park. We finished Cary Parkway and we finished paving Maynard Road for two lanes all the way around the city. We built a transfer station downtown for the sanitation so we could save a lot of money in taking our big trucks and stuff to the landfill and cutting the tires off of them and stuff. There's things like that that we did that are difficult to explain to the public that is cost

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effective. We became one of the safest towns in North Carolina and retained that. Those are just some of the things that happened.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
How do you plan for and stay ahead of the kind of growth that Cary has experienced?
KOKA BOOTH:
I think by having a good staff, and Cary has always had a good young staff, and having an outstanding manager such as Bill Coleman and Jim Westbrook. You know the measures, and measuring items that you have to keep in touch with to make sure that happens. For instance, we're one of the safest cities in North Carolina. At the time we had one police officer for every so many thousand people. You have to watch that and if the numbers start changing, you have to change those numbers. You build fire stations so that you can have response time of so many minutes. If you don't have that response you need to build a fire station. So those people are professional at advising you. If you allow this to be built, allow this to happen, if the growth area takes place here, these are the facilities required and this is what you have to do. So I think that's the direction that good management, and I think the Council management for doing this was just an absolute wonderful way of running a city. For having a professional person who is not political in his thinking, working with someone who has to be political in his thinking working together, makes for a good atmosphere. If you can go ahead and do this if you want to, but if you do that next year you have to raise taxes. Or, you can do that if you want to but next year you're not going to be able to build that X facility that we need so badly. Or, if we don't build this water treatment plant, you will have to stop something.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
So the trade-offs had to be spelled out and analyzed
KOKA BOOTH:
in advance. We would go to a retreat and they told us that, if you stop growth in Cary, or you reduce it to this percent… In Colorado, Arizona, Florida, we can show you what happens when they jump over those lines, those government lines. They will go to Holly Springs,

Page 13
they will go to Apex, they will go to… even go down to Johnson County, and you will still get all the headaches you're going to have now with traffic and everything. But you won't get any of the taxes. And that's exactly what happened. We were told that ten years before that happened. Yes. But you've got to believe what professionals are telling you.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
Over the last few years, since you were mayor, the growth has supposedly been slowed down within Cary. What impact has that had?
KOKA BOOTH:
Stopped, it has stopped. It has impacted the budget that if we don't, if it doesn't start growing again your taxes will increase next year.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
which they are predicting. There you are.
KOKA BOOTH:
Yes. Now, you can criticize me for growing too fast. And I had a man who was going to run for office call and talk to me. He told me, he said, "I wouldn't have supported you if you had run again." I said, "What did you not like?" He said, "You grew too fast." Here's the question I asked him. I said, "Would you have told SAS, American Airlines, Siemens Medical, Firetrol… which company would you have told not to come?" He said, "Well, I would just wouldn't have taken them so fast." I said, "Have you ever been in the sales business?" He said, "No." I said, "You take the order when you can get it. You don't take an order when you want it. You take an order, you want it all the time." And he said, "Yes, but we shouldn't have grown so fast." My answer is, we didn't take every company that came to look in Cary. You know the Pergo plant that went to Garner? I told the Chamber of Commerce that wasn't a good plan. With formaldehyde and sawdust and fifty trucks over here next to Weston going twenty-four hours a day, I wouldn't want to live over there and I wouldn't want… so we said. So they chose Garner, which is a good location because Garner had a place that wasn't next to residential and they were very happy. So you don't take everybody coming down the pike and you have to be very

Page 14
selective. I thought we were super selective. I will take the blame for the rapid growth if you want to give it to me. I think the people that served with me on the Council would take the blame also. And say, I grew up in West Virginia and I saw my community go from 120,000 down to 49,000 people. I told my wife when my kids were in middle school and beginning of high school, if we stay here they not have any place to work. I saw a third generation business to go out of business. So if you give me a choice of… you don't stand still. People think you do but you don't, you don't stand still. When you have zero growth and you're standing still, you're going backwards. You see, you already see that. You either go forward or you go backwards. Now sometime you may go too fast and maybe a little too slow, but you always have to work at going forward. People blame me for this and I'll take that blame, but I still think it's better to go forward than to go backwards. And you do not stand still. Nobody can convince me you stand still. Even when it's zero growth, it's not plus or minus but it's going backwards, it is going backwards. I think the record proves that.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
Makes sense. How has the role of the major changed over time?
KOKA BOOTH:
Well, as the city grows it's more demanding. I had a job here at SAS. I was criticized for working at SAS, large developer. I never voted on a SAS issue. And they were generous to me to allow me to go if I had to. There were times when I left here when I knew I shouldn't sometimes, but when you have a chance of getting a new industry and the president of the company's going to be here, what do you do? So they were really good to me. I think the role has changed dramatically in that we are really, we are the seventh largest city in the state.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
So the mayor is now a full-time job? It was probably, I'm sure, in your years.
KOKA BOOTH:
I'm not sure that you would say it's full, I think he's a full-time ambassador and a full-time negotiator. We got great people. We got the best city manager in the state of North

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Carolina. Great people, but they want to talk to the mayor. It's not the Booth name, it was the mayor name. When somebody comes to town and he's the president of a large corporation, he wants to talk to the mayor. I don't care who you are, whether you're good or bad, smart or dumb, he wants to talk to you. That's the only person he'll talk to. That's the way it is, that's a fact of life. So I had to be available. I had set my goal that we would try to attract new industry, so that's where I put my priority. I cannot emphasize enough the wonderful, wonderful staff that supported it. Look at all the good things that happened. We had really good people, good young people. Our people are much sought after. Anybody down in Cary, just about any community would love to have them. We've lost some of them to be managers of other cities. That's good. Bad for Cary but good for the city. I have been all over the state. People ask us about our sign ordinance and how we make it work. I have been all over the state where they've asked about our industrial recruitment. You know, we never gave incentives. We didn't have any to give. So how do you sell a community that you can't give away the family farm? We've got some good industry here too. So it has to be an attractive community to live in, it has to have something for the children, it has to have activities that families… go to the Cary Christmas parade, see the thousands and thousands of kids that the parade the Jaycees put on. Then you'll understand why Cary is a great place to live. Or go to Pop Warner football, or go to the ball fields of little league and all of those. Then you'll see why we're a great community. Just the restoration of the Page-Walker Hotel, an unbelievable task, no money at any place. The Friends of the Page-Walker, I can't tell you how much I appreciate what they did and it would not have happened if Anne Kratzer hadn't beat constantly on it. At the same time, I can't imagine if we had allowed that place to deteriorate any further. I cannot even imagine what the community would be like, because it has meant so much to our people. It is one of the premier places in our community

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today. We truly didn't have money to do that at the time. There's when we had to make some of the tough decisions that I talk about.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
Can you tell me a little bit of that history, of when it was a deteriorating, empty building and how things played out?
KOKA BOOTH:
It was owned by Bob Strother, a local florist. Bob had repaired it and fixed it up and made it his home. It was a very lovely place. Bob moved away and the place just set there idle. The roof deteriorated dramatically and it actually had a large hole, about like a bomb had dropped through it, which absolutely just destroyed it, the building, the floors and everything in it. The group got together and tried to raise… first thing, the Town had to buy it. Well, the decision to buy it was so easy. It's next to the town hall and everything. But after you buy it, we had to build it up to today's standards for handicap ramps and elevators and all that. We knew it was going to be tremendously expensive. Here you are strapped to buy fire trucks, fix the streets and all. It was sort of like the family, you want to take a two week's vacation and you have decide, are you going to take a two week vacation or are you going to pay Johnny's tuition to go to college? That's some of the decision we had to make. Thank goodness the people supported it enough to make it happen. And thank goodness we found a way of making it happen and restored the facilities. Because I think it's got so, we don't have a lot of history in Cary. People talk about… we've got the first public school, and what else do we? We have slave cemeteries, and we were a battleground during the Civil War, up to Morrisville. I'm so glad that we were able to save it, and I hope that there's always money to keep it maintained. I hope that it's always there. A lot of companies gave a lot of money, if you go there and look at those tags on there. It's interesting what a little tag like that meant, ten - fifty thousand dollars, and didn't ask for much recognition and didn't get a lot. I hope that we, it is so fragile and I hope we don't overuse it because it's not

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a public building like we build today with granite floors and stuff. I think we need to really be careful how we take care of it.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
That makes sense. So while we're building for the future, we need to also take care of our past.
KOKA BOOTH:
Yes, we surely do. The same way with downtown. We need to every once in awhile go back downtown and do some major fixing up down there. For instance, I noticed the… I don't know whether you know this, but the cloverleaf in the street down there, the added expense for that was paid by the Durham Herald newspaper. They were trying to get started in Cary, and it didn't work but they paid for that. The difference in the cost of just doing it and putting that cloverleaf in the town seal, they paid for it. The town clock, the money was raised by the Rotary Clubs. When we did that, that was on the plan to put, we didn't have the money to put it, so the Rotary Clubs raised the money to do that. Some companies here in town paid for the installation. A lot of times when we couldn't afford to do, we went to other people, asking them to do things like that, to make it happen. It was important to make it happen. They did at the high school, they did at the elementary school, other places, people…
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
You've given us a great background to get started in understanding your tenure with Cary and all that you've done. I think we need to go away and think about all of this, and then we can come back and do a second interview. How would that be?
KOKA BOOTH:
That would be great. Okay.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
Well, thank you so much for you've given us today.
KOKA BOOTH:
You didn't eat much for lunch.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
Oh, I did. It was fabulous. I got a wonderful lunch too, it was terrific. Thank you so very much.
END OF INTERVIEW