0:00

ROMOND: The following is an unrehearsed interview with former State Representative C. M. "Hank" Hancock for the University of Kentucky Libraries, Kentucky Legislature Oral History Project. It's conducted by Jan Romond on Friday, March tenth, at the home or Mr. Hancock in Frankfort, Kentucky, at 1:00 PM.

HANCOCK: You ready to go?

ROMOND: Mr. Hancock, what were the major changes that took place in how the state government was run over the time that you served?

HANCOCK: Well, Jan, it's, it's, that's, that's probably a, I, I was lucky enough to have served my legislative tenure, uh, during the, the period of equalization of governments. I, I think the, the terms of--of legislative independence, I've, I've never particularly liked that term, even though where there is some truth to it, but, but what 1:00I call more equalization of governments. Um, I of course went in 1974, uh, under a tenure when Governors were the very strongest. It, it was considered, the Governors were the strongest of the United States. The Governor of Kentucky was, was, absolutely had the most authority of any Governor in, in the Unites States. Had full control of leadership in both the House and the Senate, and full control of the flow of bills that passed through. Um, and, and my tenure, my first, uh, first session was with Wendell Ford, later United States Senator Wendell Ford until he retired. Very good Governor, very, uh, powerful Governor, very, uh, uh, popular Governor. He then he was succeeded actually in office by Julian Carroll. And Julian Carroll is--I think you will find that many agree with me--was absolutely one of the most 2:00powerful Governors that the Commonwealth of Kentucky ever had, mainly because, uh, Governor Carroll knew state government from top to bottom. He, he was more versed in the, in the workings of, of government. And therefore he had set in his mind going in the office exactly what he wanted to do as Governor. And he, he set himself a, a path and a goal. And that's the way he went and you either got on the train and went with him or else you were left behind. So, when I came to the legislature in 1974, I--I got to say that I came sort of as a very unusual circumstances, which we've talked about before. I was neither endorsed nor even thought by the Governor or the Lieutenant Governor, that being Governor Ford and Lieutenant Governor Carroll, that I had any chance at all of, of winning. And, and even though we were, we were acquaintances, I knew them and worked with them and a couple of times on, on a standoff basis and, but I wasn't interested in politics 3:00previous to that so it didn't really seem to, uh, I wasn't certainly expected to win.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

HANCOCK: So, when I was elected, I was, I guess a couple of days after I, I won the election, uh, a young legislator from Versailles, Kentucky, uh, a, a friend called me up, a friend of mine called me up, and, and asked me if, if I would have lunch with a friend of his. And about three days later we went to lunch and I met for the first time, uh, Representative Vic Hellard from, from Versailles. And I think Vic sort of recruited me into a group of what became known as "Turks," simply because I was not beholding to the executive branch of government, because so many were beholding to the, uh, Governor's 4:00office for getting elected, getting them elected at the same time they got elected or something. So I, I together was elected and was sort of taken under Vic Hellard's wings and, and Vic Hellard was, uh, uh, an outstanding individual whose, whose entire goal was equal branch of government for the legislature, legislative branch.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

HANCOCK: And he, along with such people as Representative, uh, Nick Kafoglis from, from down in Bowling Green. Uh, representative, then Representative David Karem, who later served quite a long tenure in the Senate, and, and, uh, uh, that was just about the extent of, of- -there were a couple others in that group back then that, that really were, were willing to sort of, uh, start on the path of, of working government to change where the legislature, the people's branch of 5:00government, really meant something. And, of course, along the way Bill Kenton--who was later one of the famous speakers of the House and I started as his speaker pro temp, um, under--he came in but I can well remember we went to, we formed a central Kentucky caucus for the first time ever that I, I think that was ever such a thing had happened. And we decided that we were going to participate--and this is, this is first time legislators--that we were going to participate in the election of leadership. And, and I, I was fortunately or unfortunately delegated to go talk to Governor Carroll about that.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

HANCOCK: And it happened to be that I was, uh, uh, chairman of the YMCA function, uh, night and the Governor, the Governor was the speaker. And I said, well, I'll use that opportunity to say something to him about it. And I, and I'll never forget, he, he, I, I'd mentioned the 6:00fact that we would like to have someone from Central Kentucky serve in leadership, uh, hopefully in the speaker's office and, and we really touted the name of then Representative Joe Clarke, who was also a member of the, sort of the Turks. And Governor Carroll looked at me and says, "Hank." He said, "Hank," said, "Nobody is going to tell me who my leadership's going to be." (both laugh) So I, I right quickly and I think they knew that was going to happen to me, and I, I sort of realized where the, where they, how the issue was settled, and, and how it was settled immediately. But at that time, uh, we had a, um, we had a, a desk and on, on, on the, in the House of Representatives and that was our entire office.

ROMOND: Right.

HANCOCK: That's, that's where we worked from, that desk. And, and then they had two or three little meeting rooms. And I, and I always wondered that these meeting rooms were so small that you would walk 7:00into them, and if a committee got into them, there was no place for the public to be at all. There was just no place to sit, no place to stand. If, if there, if there was an interested person of the public come by, they could just look in the door. And, and see what was going on inside that little committee room meeting when--

ROMOND: --was that by design?

HANCOCK: Uh, and that way, that's exactly right, the whole thing was by design because the truth of the matter is, uh, you weren't supposed to know anything how to vote, or what to vote on in that, in that group. And that goes back to, there were basically, there were basically notes put on, uh, legislators' desks on a daily basis, telling them what they need to vote for and how they needed to vote those days. I mean, uh, literally on, on some of them on every single issue. Uh, a lot of times and--Governor Carroll loved to say this, "Well, I'll let you all decide that one!" He'd just throw one out in a hundred. "I'll let you all decide that one." It might be what, making a state lock or 8:00something like that, or the state tree, or something on along, along those lines. In fact I got myself in one my first real trouble as, as a legislator over the state tree. But it was, that's the way it was in 1974, when I, when I first was in office and you had these young group and leadership was sort of selected by the Governor. Uh, it was one of those issues that I was talking to another legislator one time and he was, he was really talking this issue down, how bad it was, later on I voted no and he voted yes. And I said to him, I said, "Why did you vote for that bill?" He said, "For three miles of blacktop!" (Romond laughs) And I, I was finally beginning to learn what this was all about, and--

ROMOND: --so, I'm asking myself what was the point of the legislature then, if it was all.

HANCOCK: I--

ROMOND: --decided ahead of time?

HANCOCK: Well, I don't think the framers of the constitution intended it to be that way. And that's the reason I think there was a burning 9:00desire in the heart of people like Vic Hellard. Certainly not me because I didn't realize it was that way until I went there.

ROMOND: Sure, you just got elected.

HANCOCK: So, I, I was not a student of government when I went there. So I did not know this. But there was a burning desire in, in the hearts of people like Joe Clarke and Vic Hellard, and--and, uh, and Bill Kenton, Nick Kafoglis and to, to have a, an equal branch of government. And as you may know, or may not know this, of course Bill Kenton, I can hear him now, he's talking about, "We've taken the people from the marble halls of the capitol and gone out to the people to hear what they have to say." You know, and he, he was, he was a great orator. And, and he just really, the people's branch of government. And he went over and over it. So it, it started to bloom and then really what happened, Jan, is that Governor Carroll, being the strongest Governor we've had, was followed by--I had, I don't mean this disparagingly 10:00but--by the weakest Governor we've ever had, John Y. Brown, who had no concept of what government was or how it worked at all. Now, being the nice person that he is, he, I mean, anything else, he had no, literally, no concept of government. And therefore, the legislative and, and, uh, at this point the Senate had also picked up some Turks and this is, this is now in the, in the nineteen, what, eighty, uh, '79, 1979? And, and, uh, by this time, when, when Governor Brown came in, he didn't know the system at all, so this gave, left the door wide open--

ROMOND: --opportunity!--

HANCOCK:--for the legislative branch to move right in and assert themselves. And they did. And they did.

ROMOND: And the Turks were the leaders of that assertion?

HANCOCK: Yes, they, they, I would have to go back, if I'd say, I, I'm sure that the flame of, of equalization was, was lit many times by 11:00various people, but in my, in my tenure, uh, Vic Hellard is probably the one that lit the, lit the candle of flame that, that started that surgence to me, uh, with me. And like I said, he recruited me into the fold and, and all of the sudden I found myself involved in, in debate on, on, uh, where we should go with the legislative branch of government. So it's changed, as you well know, tremendously. We have huge meeting rooms; every legislator has an independent office today. Uh, there's great debate, the things today, uh, uh, have changed tremendously. Today you have, you have, uh, uh, a Republican Governor instead of two sectional parts of the Democratic Party fighting with each other. I said we, we always had two parties in this sta-, in this state, but both of them were Democrat. (Romond laughs) And, and that was the sys-, system they had. But now you got a Republican Governor and a Democratic House and a Republican Senate. And, and you've got 12:00the right of the Governor to succeed himself.

ROMOND: Right.

HANCOCK: So the, the balance, the, actually that's it's all there but it's a completely, completely different way of doing business in Frankfort today than it was in those days. It's taken a long time evolving. Um, I think that it's, there's some ways it's, it's sad. It's sad about not being able to reach a budget, uh, consensus on the budget which is the constitutional requirement in my opinion. Certain things you have to do. I think the legislative branch has to grow into that responsibility and see how they can handle it. Uh, but today it is absolutely, completely different. Your legislative branch of government probably today is, is, well, there's no doubt in my mind; it's much more powerful than the executive branch.

ROMOND: Um-hm. How big of a group was the Turks? And did they, were they, that was that group, the members of that group representative of 13:00the whole state?

HANCOCK: Oh no, no, that, there were about a hundred people in that group.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

HANCOCK: I mean, no, there were--I'm sorry--there were a hundred people in the legislature and, and out of that group there're probably seven, seven people that really, uh, it--let me go back to this, too. In a lot of your areas there were several counties with the same legislative district and they had these rollover agreements. I served from my county this, this term, you serve from your county the next term; you serve the next term, I go back and serve the next term two-tier (??)--

ROMOND: -- ----------(??)--

HANCOCK: --you had a rollover agreement between me ---------(??) and so there was a lot of that so a lot of the legislators knew they were short time. So they knew they were just there almost like a juror--

ROMOND: --right--

HANCOCK: --uh, for a, for a short time period. And, and, uh, so the seriousness of, of having an independent branch, legislative branch, probably was not on their minds as being particularly important 14:00because they wouldn't be there anyway. Um, then in some of the other areas, uh, of the, the politics of maybe a, a Louisville delegation, a Jefferson County delegation might have been controlled more at the local level than it was in the state level, so they didn't work--there just wasn't that much concern at that time. Apparently, I'd, someone older than I would have to say, "Well, we got there, but obviously we were there." And, and from my background, I knew of course that how strong former Governor, Governor Clements and, and through Governor Combs, and how much, how much a part they played from, from my childhood in growing up. I was there but I guess it just never struck anybody's attention the legislators needed to have some independence and be more accountable to the people that elected them.

ROMOND: Um-hm. When you first got elected, what did you think the role of government was or was that something you thought about even and, and 15:00what do you think it is now?

HANCOCK: I don't want to regress, I don't want to regress to any statements I made before, but when I got elected, I remember I got elected because I felt like I wasn't being listened to. And some of the groups that I worked with and that had talked to representatives, our representatives and, and senators didn't feel like we were being listened to. And when I, my goal when I got elected was to express the opinions of the majority in my constituency, even though they might not be my, my opinion. I felt like--and I still do--I feel to this day that your role as a legislator is to, is to do what your particular constituents want you to do, based on the fact that they have at least some comparable knowledge of the issues that, that you do. There's some issues that are so technical that you have a lot more knowledge than they do on it and, and that, that will be the issue, but most 16:00issues, the general public is well aware and certainly, uh, intelligent enough to make a decision whether it's a good issue or bad issue.

ROMOND: So, you see the role of government then when now(??)--

HANCOCK: --I see the role of the legislative branch.

ROMOND: Okay.

HANCOCK: The legislative branch.

ROMOND: To listen to the needs of your constituents.

HANCOCK: That's, that's right. I think that's what the framers of our constitution thought that Congress and the legislative branch was to do. Because that's the reason they framed to come from all different parts and sections of the country and all different parts of the state, in the legislature, because they came representing what's the foremost people of, of western Kentucky versus eastern Kentucky. What, what were their interests, what were their needs?

ROMOND: Right.

HANCOCK: And, and really I found that my, I personally found that one of my hardest obstacles to overcome is understanding how different we really were, the one hundred of us collective together, how different our priorities were. So it, it, they, they did the right way, I, I mean they framed it for the right reason, so it made only good sense. 17:00And if I was from western Kentucky and far western Kentucky, I was supposed to represent the views of those people there versus the people in downtown Louisville.

ROMOND: Yes.

HANCOCK: So yes, I've, I felt that.

ROMOND: Um, in your time in the legislature you served under many Governors.

HANCOCK: Yes.

ROMOND: And I wonder if, what your recollections are about them. You've shared some, Wendell Ford, Julian Carroll, John Y. Brown, Martha Layne Collins, Wallace Wilkinson, and Brereton Jones.

HANCOCK: Yeah. I like, I, I did say, the, from the very beginning of, I, I guess I was of, of all the Governors, I was probably, uh, from the background of--as we'd said before, I was very big in Jaycees. Wendell Ford became Governor; he was a National Jaycee President. Uh, so I came, I knew Wendell as, as a, from that standpoint, as, 18:00as a Jaycee president, and political and I guess, uh, he was a very intelligent, very, uh, uh, good communicator, uh, willing to, uh, try to work with you and do the things that he wanted to do and accomplish. He was a good leadership. Uh, Governor Carroll was the strongest. He was the most knowledgeable Governor that I served with. Without a doubt. Without a doubt, I, I mean to say that. Governor Brown, uh, came in with the business mentality of, of actually having the board of director's vote on how to run Governor, government. Uh, and he, he was very successful in his business doing that. However that just does not apply to government. You cannot run government that way, like a business. And, and, uh, but I stand very sincere, uh, did, put everything, put what he had into, to making government work and try to work like a business. And, uh, Martha Layne Collins, I think, 19:00was probably the, the most dedicated Governor I served with. She was no doubt, uh, she was, she was absolutely dedicated and sincere and compassionate. Everything, the needs of Kentuckians and--and all. She was, uh, uh, I think she really knocked herself out trying to do the best job she could for everybody, uh, in there. Um, Governor Wilkinson of course was -------(??) you could read his book, They Told Me I Can't Do That, Governor! That, that he wrote about the legislative, but he came in with a chip on his shoulder, uh, from the very beginning of the legislative session and, and it was just a constant, uh, just a constant nip and tuck battle, uh, with, with Governor Wilkinson. I think he also, uh, was, was very honorable and--and had the vision of what he wanted to accomplish as, as Governor and I think that they 20:00were admirable goals that he wanted but he did not have any ability whatsoever, uh, to work with other people of the legislative branch, other people (??) [18:27]--by that time--let me do say this, in all good, in all defense of, of him. Uh, by that time after--Martha Layne certainly worked with the legislative branch. The, the Toyota plant and all that, I mean if, if she'd not worked with them and worked with them, because they were, the legislative branch had reached, it had, had all made it now at, at that point, and, and Governor Collins worked very closely with the legislative leadership. And, uh, and gotten some, some good things accomplished. And on the other hand, when, when Governor Wilkinson came in, he came in with that, uh, 'This is what I'm gonna do, fellows. Get on the track or get out, get out of the way!' And it just didn't work. And his whole administration was filled with conflict, and, uh, and just some problems. And then when, when 21:00Governor Jones came on right after that and, and Governor Jones who had served, had some previous legislative, legislative experience in, in West Virginia, I believe, um, he, he sort of surprised me that he did not work better with the legislators. And if you go back and look through the books, and the, I mean, the papers, the media, and see, you'll see he was in conflict, constant conflict with the leadership in the legislative branch of government also, over particular issues.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

HANCOCK: And that's the way it's, it sort of, it's sort of been in my tenure. That's, those are the Governors I served.

ROMOND: Right, right. What about Presidents, uh, U.S. Presidents at the time of your tenure? Um, what are your recollections about them: Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, and Clinton?

HANCOCK: Well, of course, it, it, it, I went in under the Nixon 22:00administration and all the Watergate thing was just breaking out and then I remember the scandals that came under and the, and the cloud that it put, it, uh, whether it was intended to. And the, and the strong debate about you know, that's just a--oh, a bunch of stuff and everybody looking one way, and it's nothing that somebody else doesn't do. And I remember it just, it just sort of was another eyesore on people who got into the political field. Uh, take either side you want to on the, on the particular issue of the tapes and what was said at Watergate. Um, and then, of course, Ford, I, I personally met Ford through, you might say, my Republican friends in, in the legislature. Invited me one time to meet him at a personal thing. And I always thought President Ford was probably, uh, he inherited a situation that, that was just, could not be overcome.

23:00

ROMOND: Um-hm.

HANCOCK: But I think that it, the really the history books ought to put him as probably one of our great Presidents. Even though his term was short, he was, he was a great President. And you know, the same thing happened to Jimmy Carter, President Carter that happened to, uh, I would say to Governor Wilkinson. Congress, for the first time, flexed their muscle harder than they've ever flexed it before after the, after the Nixon and then the Ford that weakened the Presidency, and then along came a very strong Congress. And so, President Carter had a, for the first time, in, in the nation, I think, you'll see a very, very strong Congress, just like Kentucky also had a very strong legislative branch for the first time. So there were some parallels what I, I, what I thought about it. Um, one of the interesting stories about Presidents in my career is, is, is President Bill Clinton. Through the Southern Legislative Conference, which Kentucky is a member of, and I chaired several, uh, I chaired transportation, Southern Legislative 24:00Conference Transportation Committee, and traveled to some of the other states and during the conferences, and Arkansas was one of the states I traveled to. And we were down there and I was speaker pro temp of the House. And, uh, Bill Kenton was speaker and Bill couldn't make the meeting and therefore I was called on to meet with, with Governor, then Governor Bill Clinton in the--in the mansion, of the mansion, something, several of the, the leadership was meeting in. And, uh, I walked away from that meeting that night and I, I told my wife later that night, I said, "That guy is going to be President of the United States one of these days."

ROMOND: You did!

HANCOCK: (laughs) I told my wife that night. He was just amazing. Just an amazing conversationalist and he just, I mean I was just spellbound that, that, uh, his, his knowledge and everything else he did. So, he of course went in, uh, was there for many years and watched his career with, with, uh, succeed, and I think he was a very good President.

25:00

ROMOND: You were involved in state transportation issues throughout the time you served and inducted into the Kentucky Transportation Hall of Fame in 1994. What were the transportation issues when you were serving and how have they changed over the years?

HANCOCK: Well, the, the transportation issues, that, that's very good, and by the way that's one of my proudest achievements to being in, I am the only legislator that's ever had that honor. And, and I think that's still true today. And I just absolutely I treasure that, that honor more than, than--well as certainly, as I hold it in very high esteem than any other honor I've ever received. Um, but, uh, it, it's really sort of--and you asked me a direct question how to, what transportation issues I, I've got to tell you this. I fell into that quite accidentally. When Bill Kenton was, was, when we got Bill Kenton 26:00elected as speaker of the House --------(??), and he, he came along and he had--I was up for the chairman of the cities committee and supposed to chair the cities, which he was chairman of the cities committee the year before and I was vice-chairman.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

HANCOCK: And I was up for chairman of the cities committee. But in the, uh, wheeling and dealing and, an give and take in the legislative branch, they had to cut a deal with the, with the Jefferson County delegation and had to give that spot to one of the Louisville, uh, legislators, which is a good friend of mine. And I ended up instead taking the chairmanship of the transportation committee in the House. Highways and transportation and that's how I ended up with a twenty- one year career in legisl-, in the legislature working on, I was--well, first of all I was on the highway committee, I's on the transportation and highway committee, my first, they appointed me that the very first 27:00thing--

ROMOND: --right off the bat.

HANCOCK: My first two years, yeah, when I first went in there. So I was on the committee, knew nothing, absolutely nothing about it, and the next thing I know I'm chairman of the committee. So, and it, it, it just really was strange I, I guess the, I said, "Well, what's this?" And I ended up getting really involved in the, in the transportation system in the Commonwealth and--and what the needs were and, and developed over the years what's now referred to often as the six-year plan. And what's, what's more often referred to as the underfunded six-year plan for transportation, but long-range planning for transportation system in this commonwealth. The, as you well know, each Governor came in and they'd build a road from wherever they wanted to, usually to their home base, wherever it is, and that was expected. And, and it seemed, there was never any long-range planning for the 28:00road systems in Kentucky. There was--

ROMOND: --as a state--

HANCOCK: --because you had some dedicated workers to do it but there was nothing, there was no vision, no future vision. No, no long-range plan of what we need to do. And, and I'd, I'd, I feel like that I was very much involved in, in the whole, uh, concept of looking at the future needs of the, of the roads in Kentucky and, and what we need to do. Now that along with some of the great leadership we had over in the transportation department. And we had some really dedicated engineers and, and highway people over there that were fulltime state employees. And not just, didn't come in under just any Governor. That really had some vision and were, they would work very well. So, the needs, certainly the needs were, was a, was a planning vision statement of what we're going to do over a period of time for the roads in Kentucky. And I think it's worked very well. The, the end result is that today, that we probably have some very, very good roads and, and 29:00some very good roads coming on-line, uh, but we keep, we keep having the money problems in funding them and getting them fixed. Now there's a reason for that. There've been over the years, is, every time the budget would get tight and they'd need more money to go somewhere else, they'd, they'd put a little more responsibility over the transp-, the dedicated funds in the transportation department, like they put the responsibility of the state police, which is formerly paid out of the general fund, started taking, started taking the road funds to help pay those expenses. And that went on a couple of times, and the biggest issue that happened under, under John Y. Brown's admin--well, actually, the, it was Governor Carroll that, that, that put forth a plan of how to finish off Highway 80, uh, through the mountains and, and do some good work down there and through the west--gave up then, in coal counties which, as you well know, are, have tremendous damage done 30:00to them by coal-haul trucks. And the severance tax on coal was a big issue during Governor Carroll's administration of that coal severance tax, some of it going back to the coal counties for them to, to attract industry to, so that the people in those counties would have some other job than going to work in the coal mine. That was the original intent of the coal severance tax issue being given back to coal counties. For the purpose, sole and single, sole purpose, single sole purpose of attracting other industry into those counties, so that they could have an opportunity for other jobs rather than work in the coal mines. And now, and of course that, that, that was changed to build courthouses and swimming pools and everything else with. And the, the original intent just went right down the road. But when Governor Carroll was in, Governor Carroll worked out a plan with the coal 31:00county representative legislators that he would take some funds and build Highway 80 and they'd make a bond issue and spend, put million to, dedicate several millions of dollars, and I don't know, remember the exact figure, but it seems to me like eighty million dollars in, in my mind somewhere. Eighty million dollars a year out of the coal severance tax fund dedicated to pay off these bonds for these Highway 80 and other road funds, other road buildings there. And that was a very good plan, the legislature went along with it, and it passed and agreed on. And these coal counties, as a result of that, gave up some of their money to do that--

ROMOND: --right--

HANCOCK: --instead of it coming back to the local government. And it was a hard thing for them to do, I mean that, they, they, they had to felt like they were giving up this money but they needed those roads, too. So it was done in an honest assumption. Well, then the Brown Administration came in and, and, and this was, uh, Frank Metz who was secretary of transportation, his idea. He ditched all that. Take 32:00the, instead of taking eighty million dollars to pay back the road fund with, he kept it and spent it in state government. And so that put the road system further behind and they never did, never did take the money from the severance tax and put back into the road fund like they were supposed to do to pay off the bonds for that highway, those highways. Um, and that set, that's what set the plan back tremendously. Uh, had they paid the, paid the money that they should have paid into that, we would have had, we would have had the, uh, the six-year plan would have worked and the roads that were in it would have been built like they were supposed to and the quality of them would've been much better than they are today. But we do have a good transportation system in Kentucky today. Uh, and, and I think if the planning system is in- effect, the six-year plan is discussed every legislative session, you'll see it's just become sort of a bacon-type project that the individual 33:00legislators will, will try to get a little project in that six-year plan ever, every year and move something up from six year to four year to two year to one year. And, uh, it's, it's, it's always, it's always been underfunded.

ROMOND: Um-hm, um-hm. What did you see as the major issues that Kentucky as a state was facing during the time that you served?

HANCOCK: Well, certainly education. Education was no doubt, underfunding of education was, was probably a, a serious issue, um, when I first went in. Um, health care became the major, a major issue during my tenure there. I mean, we never did, it seemed like for every single year we, I mean, we'd go back and say, Okay, these costs are getting too high. What can we do about them? What can we do about them?' You know, people can't afford this. And that's been going on 34:00now for thirty years, and they just keep climbing and escalating and nobody seems to know what to do with it. It's, but that became, became a major problem after education. Um, the, the, the farm economy, because of the tobacco issue, was, was, was a serious problem for Kentucky and is today. Uh, how to deal with it, when you take tobacco off the market for our farmers, what are we going to do with that. So those are state wide issues that concern me, but I've, in my particular district, I had, and, and anybody that served in the district I served in, which consists of most of the state employees --

ROMOND: --right--

HANCOCK: --I was constantly working to hold onto and maintain a merit system for state employees. And that, I guess, you would have to say became my dominant issue during my tenure. I was always working 35:00it. Found myself working with state employees to, to, I sponsored bills, such as the twenty-seven years --------- out (??) to get their retirement benefits up and to maintain ethics. In fact, the truth of the matter is that, that we completely rewrote the, the personnel, uh, uh, merit law in 1980, and did the whole thing again, uh, your senators, and actually I was the sponsor of it, along with several good cosponsors in the House and Senate both. And, and changed it all. But I kept, constantly had conflicts with, always putting out fires over the merit system. (laughs)

ROMOND: Um-hm. Who were the most powerful lobbyists in your early years in the legislature?

HANCOCK: In my very first year there were two, there were two groups that were actually, uh, totally in control. One of them was labor and one of the was, was the Farm Bureau.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

HANCOCK: Uh, when they, when they agreed on something there was no, 36:00uh, question about where it was going or anything else; it was just go right then. The Farm Bureau was very --------(??), let's say that they were just very strong. Uh, and then the labor organization was, uh, because they had quite a, quite a thing. They, they had a situation then, my seatmate--uh, name will remain, uh, unnamed--he's one of those that he got a second sheet put on his desk everyday from labor telling him who he was supposed to vote for--(laughs)--what he's supposed to vote for. So, there's no doubt they were the, they, those two were the very strongest in that time.

ROMOND: What about over the years? How did that--

HANCOCK: --it developed, it changed to that. We took a period of time, I, I was a business person. In fact, uh, within, in, in my group of new legislators that went in, there were several people in there that, that actually had a business background. I don't know, I'm sure you, you realize the Jaycees stands for the Junior Chamber of Commerce, 37:00which represents business, you know, and, and, and groups and, and I had interest in business, I had a business. And it just amazed me how little, uh,--business seemed to be something that was always making a lot of money and taking things out of the pockets of the poor people, according to the, the, the vision of a lot of the other legislators there. So, uh, the Chamber of Commerce to me was, was nowhere to be seen. The state Chamber of Commerce at, at that point. Well, I think that started evolving next, over the next few years and business finally got active in some of the issues. Uh, then, then started moving, and I think, uh, as it's gone on that they've become more and more active, um, business interests. I think that labor has still got 38:00some very good, uh, representatives up there. I think everybody is a little bit more willing to sit down to the table and talk and negotiate and realize that they no longer can just walk over people. Uh, but, uh, it, it's a pretty good balance today, except, except we've reached the point in this--in this state where everybody has to have some representation at the Capitol. Every group, I'm, I'm whether, whether, every group, whether you're the church, or the school, or the, or the business, or what you are. Um, you have to have some type, type of representation there to talk your point, uh, to the legislators and talk what -------(??) about. And that's where we've come, that wasn't necessary back when I started, because it wouldn't get anything done. The Governor, if it was okay with the Governor, it was going to pass; if it wasn't okay with the Governor, it wasn't going to pass. And so 39:00that's, that's the bottom-line.

ROMOND: So the role of lobbyists has changed--

HANCOCK: --oh, entirely, entirely--

ROMOND: --along with that.

HANCOCK: Utility lobbyists after that, utility lobbyists became the very most powerful. Uh, they, they got very powerful and still are today, uh, very powerful. But again, it goes back to the fact that the, that the Governor, uh, got elected on utility support and fine, if it passed, if it didn't, it wouldn't get passed. But now, that's--that's changed, too.

ROMOND: Um-hm. Now you need a lobbyist for whatever your cause is.

HANCOCK: Yes, yes, you need someone to go up there and be able to speak out when -------(??), and it's, I'll tell you what, it's not, some people take that, make that, uh, a connotation of something wrong and evil or bad, but it's not. All it is, is that these people are so busy, getting pulled from here to there over issues that usually, usually cost money. And, and, uh, some of them are very technical in 40:00other ways. They're getting pulled from every side. And it's, it's your cause (??) will get left out unless it's, somebody's there to speak for it.

ROMOND: -----------(??) represented.

HANCOCK: That's right.

ROMOND: Um-hm. And do you work as a lobbyist?

HANCOCK: Yes, I do. Yes, speaking of that I'm, I do some part-time work for it, yes.

ROMOND: Uh-hm. And how does your current work as a lobbyist compare with being a member of the General Assembly?

HANCOCK: Well, it's completely different. It's, it's completely different. It's not like, it's, it's more based on the fact that my, my role is simply to be there to explain to legislators about what the mission and, and, and goals of the group that I represent. And, and, uh, that's as far as I can go with it, you know, and then when they get together and want something and, and want to try to 41:00do something then we can work that out, if we can talk to a group of legislators about it and they're willing to do the, the necessary, uh, basic, uh, uh, political contacts with it and that's the only way it's gonna get, something's gonna get passed. But mostly, mostly as, as a representative of, of governmental liaison, representative, you're more in a protective role than anything else. You're trying to protect the turf that you've got right now rather than having something go against it. And, uh, so, it's, it's, uh, it's beneficial to have had a legislative background to be in this background only because I think I have a little bit more respect for the legislator's role and what they, what they're put through, uh, than some of the other people. And certainly, uh, I think I've mentioned to you earlier, one of, 42:00one of the hardest things I had to do was compromise. And, and that's basically, I have to compromise with the feelings of that legislator from the far western Kentucky and far eastern Kentucky. And, uh, so I realize the problems that they've got in compromising to come up with something that is going to not harm their people, but be in the best of their benefit and still be what they want. What they think they want ---------(??).

ROMOND: Was there ever a time that your personal values or agenda was in conflict with your constituents?

HANCOCK: Yes, yes, there, there were, um--

ROMOND: --how did you resolve that?

HANCOCK: A couple of issues that, that came up and it became one of those issues that, uh, I, I did, I did something that, I don't know whether- -I, I guess it really was different than most other people ever done. 43:00There're several stories written about it, way back then. I did two: the first, first year I was elected, I put opinion polls in the local paper. Every, every two weeks, I'd put an opinion poll in the paper about issues. And, uh, ask my constituents to give me feedback. And it's the first time that'd been done, certainly in my area. And it was amazing what a reaction that they had. And I will tell you this--

ROMOND: --people responded--

HANCOCK: --and I will tell you this; the paper, the newspaper, Mr. Al Dix, did that for me free. He thought it was a good service. He agreed with it and everything else, and he allowed me to put it in the newspaper. And it was a--oh, they were just little sheets and they would ask five or six questions: uh, how do you feel about hanging the Ten Commandments in schools? How do you, how do you feel about, uh, funding, uh, a particular issue, or doing something? So, uh, those are particular issues that---------(??) that opinion poll, and the results of that opinion poll I would get back, and that's, that helped 44:00me determine a lot of the pulse of the people, of what they wanted. And then another thing I did that every Saturday morning during the legislative session, I used to have pot belly discussions with my constituents. Every Saturday morning. I had, I had in the back of my business this, this old pot-bellied iron stove.

ROMOND: Yes.

HANCOCK: And we would fire that thing up and sit, pull some chairs up, and sit around that, and I'd buy, go down to McGee's bakery, get two dozen doughnuts, and people would come in and sit and they'd, they'd, they'd discuss things that they read in the paper this week about what issues were. And then, it got to be so popular that I started running out of doughnuts. (both laugh) So, and then, then, I started getting to the point where I got the state senator who, he had to start attending them also, so he'd, he's have those other counties that he had to serve too, but he'd come in there. He'd be in there about every third Saturday -------(??).

45:00

ROMOND: Um-hm.

HANCOCK: So, they got really, sometimes we had to move to a bigger place.

ROMOND: Oh my gosh.

HANCOCK: Had to move, move to Investor Heritage Auditorium because the crowd got so big, and they'd come in there on Saturday mornings. And, and, uh, it was a lot of, it was a lot of fun. And sometimes it was very tricky because you've got people, you ended up with people out in your audience debating each other about the values of a particular issue. And it helped you, helped me--I say you--helped, helped me, as an individual because I could see these two conflicting sides out in the audience debating these--and my, my role ended up keeping control of people. (both laugh) But, but it was really, it was really a very good experience. And, um, um, and that, that helped me gather the information from my constituents. And, and after that, after that was done they publicized it. I got a write-up in the Courier-Journal over it. And, and some other things for doing that and, and, uh, several other legislators started doing it. I think some of them do it today.

46:00

ROMOND: Um-hm. Are there connections or friendships from the General Assembly that are especially memorable to you? Who stands out?

HANCOCK: Oh yeah, yeah, there's, there's a lot of them. Uh, in fact, one of my very good friends is still there today. This is his last year. He and I came in together as freshmen legislators and that's Representative Adrian Arnold who he and I were sworn in as freshmen in 1974. And he's not seeking reelection this year, so he won't be back. Uh, but it was great friendship we had with him. I had friendship formed, formed sort of as you usually do in those circumstances you, you work with the, the, the group and I was part of, uh, uh, part of the Turk group, which these, which Adrian and, and Representative Don Stephens was, was--we formed, formed sort of a close friendship and 47:00all. And, uh, we had conflict on several issues because certainly they were much closer to the Governor that I was. And, and, and we had, we had a lot of, a lot of different fun with them. But outstanding personality (??)--Vic Hellard, as I said before, was one of the people that, uh, and Bill Kenton who was the speaker of the House, I was the speaker pro temp, certainly was to me one of the great talents of the legislative branch of government, uh, that had just, uh, an out--

[Pause in recording.]

HANCOCK: Bill Kenton, as I said, had the ability to just, just immediately react to any issue that, that came up. I, I'd, I'd worked with him on so many things. I, I remember we were talking about the, uh, locks on the Kentucky River one time and they had a meeting in Lexington. It was a, it was a huge room full of people at, at one of the convention centers over there. And I was--and Bill was supposed to be the main s-, Bill be a speaker and at the last minute he, he 48:00get, he got tied up on a train--on a flight being delayed. And I was coming in, and so I'd been versed on everything that was going on and was prepared, prepared my remarks and fretting about them, what I was going to say. And finally Bill walked in at the last minute and he said, "Okay, Hank, tell me what's, what's going on." And I, I talked to him for about a, a minute. And then he went up on the stage. (laughs) Walked straight up on the stage, and gave the most eloquent speech on, have everything(??), had a round of applause, and everybody standing applause and, and then. And before that he knew nothing about the issues. (Romond laughs) I just had the one minute verse on(??) things. So, Bill, Bill certainly was an outstanding person. There're other out, people that, Louis DeFalaise, a Republican legislator from northern Kentucky, probably one of the most talented people I've ever served with. And that he just had the ability to do that. And, uh I mean I could go on with people that stand out that, that went into, uh, uh--oh, the great Anne Northup, uh, was, was the workingest 49:00legislator I, that I worked with. She works, and she still does today in Congress, but you could tell from the very beginning that she was a dedicated person who was going be doing work like that, and she, she did it then. Uh, and she went right on up the ladder.

ROMOND: Um-hm, um-hm. What was it like for your family over the years that you served?

HANCOCK: Gosh, I think you'd have to ask them. I will tell you this: I've got two sons, two older sons and, and, uh, uh, twin daughters who are, who are, uh, several younger than the sons. And when I was first elected into office, my, uh, and my older sons were just entering into the high school level and that, and I feel like today, even today, that I, I neglected them on a lot of occasions. I really, uh, have sort of 50:00a guilt feeling about it. I, I missed some very prime time with them. Uh, because I was spending--you, you did this. You worked privately, you did a, you had to work because you did, sure didn't--one thing about the legislative system, you didn't make any money. (laughs) You didn't, it was a, uh, you did not make any money.

ROMOND: It was a(??) service.

HANCOCK: In, in service and so you had to make your money and to pay your family, put bread on the table, to pay the rent and everything else from your job. So, and, and the legislative action, I'd, I'd figured it up one time and it was taking between the meetings that you'd attend, the correspondence that you would answer, the people you would talk to, the lunches you would go to, the dinners you attended, on the phone, it averaged up to whole forty to fifty hours a week. Just as to legislative duty. And, and so then along with that, then you come along and then you'd have your family to raise and talk to 51:00and that so. I give all the credit for that. I do feel like that I, my, my older two sons that I sort of did that, but they're, they're great kids now. I, I felt when the girls--well, like I say, they were born the same year that I first ran as it's part of it. So, we had more of a chance by the time as they were growing up, I had more of a chance to get back on my feet and, and sort to get my balance back in line to, to where we could, uh, enjoy, enjoy each other more and grow together each more. My wife was absolutely, uh, uh, wonderful during the whole thing. She, she had a lot of, a lot of issues with her. Uh, uh, basically, phone calls at home, constantly from somebody wanting something. Um, just, and, of course it's not a matter of would you 52:00have him call me, please? It's a matter of them got to tell the story to her, too. So she's got to listen to that while the vacuum cleaner is running or while she's trying to get some jobs done, some work done, or, or do something else. And, and so she absolutely, and then that's, uh, that's so, so important to the whole process, um.

ROMOND: She's involved by association.

HANCOCK: Oh absolutely. Absolutely. They, they're, your spouse ends up knowing as much about the issue as you do, because, and, and that's good because sometimes they can put you back on the straight track when you get to wondering off. And, and so, the family relationship was, was, was, at times, uh, uh, it was certainly strained because of the amount of time it takes to be involved, to do it right. To be involved in the legislative process, uh, it is, it is a strain on your family. More so than a lot of people think. And, and people, and, and I've seen that happen. I've basically have seen that happen, that 53:00people go into something like that--and not only that, any position: mayor, county judge, or magistrate, whatever it is--without the full knowledge of what their family's going to expect with this thing. And, and some of the -------(??) stories are going to be in the newspaper, uh, sometimes not always good about you. Uh, and, and those particular issues, so they, they do work and they, it's, anybody needs to sit down with their family and discuss some of the issues that they're going to have coming up and whether they do it.

ROMOND: Were you or any of your family members ever threatened because of a stand that you took on any issue or bill?

HANCOCK: Only to the point, only to the point that, uh--(laughs)--"Well, I'll vote for you again." Or that type thing. "Oh, you'll never, never ever get my vote again!" I'd, uh, one of my, my most famous stories is 54:00about a good constituent, well-known local merchant, uh, supported me, uh, for, seem like always. On a, on a particular issue I've, I was opposed to it and, and I told him I was opposed to it and I came out in public and I voted against it. And, uh, he said, "You know, you and I agree 95 percent of the time, but I'm not going to vote for you again." And I always said, "Now, do you hear what you just said? Ninety-five percent of the time I do what you want me to do, and yet that other 5 percent you're going to be against me." And so, uh, those, those type threats like that. I had, I had another funny story that happened. I had a, a fellow was going to run against me one time, and he was a convicted felon, and he'd gone down to the judge to get, to get the felon, to get him to, to remove, or excuse(??) from his record. The judge asked him why he wanted to do that, and he said he wanted to run 55:00against Hank Hancock. And he said, "Well, why do you need this?" He, he said something about, said, "Well," said, "well, you can't ever tell what's going to happen to Hank Hancock." (laughs) And he wanted to buy a gun!" (laughs)

ROMOND: Oh my gosh!

HANCOCK: He, he said, "You can't ever, ever tell what's going to happen to him," and I sort of laughed, and I said, and the judge called me and the judge, the judge was concerned enough about it to call me, and said, "I think you better just be aware of this." (laughs) So, uh, the guy filed and he ---------(??). But no, no, no, no threats of, we, I certainly, um, I had, uh, one, one particular group, uh, carried a casket up Capitol Avenue with my name one side of it and another representative's name on the other side of it. (laughs) Who, who sponsored a bill that they were totally opposed to. (both laugh) 56:00You had to, you had people, I, I was, uh, uh, there was a group at one time called the Pink Ladies. And, uh, that's what they ended up being referred to. And this was over the Equal Rights Amendment.

ROMOND: Yes.

HANCOCK: Back then there was an issue up over the Equal Rights Amendment and, and the ladies dressed in pink were absolutely for the repeal of the Equal Rights Amendment. And, and they walked up and down the hall. And, and, uh, sometimes they scared you. (laughs) I had a couple of those threaten me, too. ---------(??) And that doesn't do any good. And that doesn't do, I mean people, that doesn't do people any good, and I tell everybody I got, "Now don't threaten, don't threaten the legislator that you're going to do something." And I mean, uh, that, that doesn't work that way. They, they have a reason for how they vote, uh, and that vote has to be reflected with the constituency they 57:00represent or they wouldn't be voting that way. And if they didn't reflect it, then the constituents are going to get rid of them next time. You don't have to threaten because they, they're going to be taken care of by the natural course. But, uh, I've certainly had no other type of harmful, uh, threats. Don't know of anybody that has either, either. And I hope that you're going to ask me this question later on--bribes!

ROMOND: Oh, bribes!

HANCOCK: You, you, I don't know whether you got that in your thing to do. I was never, ever, ever offered any money for any issue or any vote or any favor, you know. And people don't, people, I, I remember talking about, "Well, they got those black bags full of money, and they go do this, and go do that and everything." And I always said, "Jimmy Crickets, I sure haven't seen any of it!" But I was never even, the, the closest I ever came to being approached with something like that, was that a young lady walked in, representing an association one time, 58:00into my office and she, and I knew her and she sat down across from me. And she, she --------(??) and she threw this check across the table to me for my campaign. And she said, "Now, there are several things we want you to do." And I looked at her and I said, "Wait a minute. What are you saying?" Said, "You're just giving me a check and then you're telling me there are things you want me to do?" I said, "Is this my check?" She said, "Yes." And I tore it up and handed back to her. You know, because it was just absolutely, that was the closest thing any, any sort of a--and now that wasn't a bribe.

ROMOND: Right.

HANCOCK: But the minute it, I mean, it's just a very wrong approach for anybody taking. It's, it's very necessary that people support candidates, uh, with, with their financial resources and, and the personal resources, too, but don't ever ask them, com-, make them commit to something before you, uh, like that, before you get a support.

ROMOND: Um-hm, um-hm. Have you changed your mind about any issues 59:00since leaving office? For example, the way governments run, education, industry, environment?

HANCOCK: I changed, I, yes, I have. I, I, I think, if I'd, I see issues today, uh, one particular issue that stands out in, in my mind is, is the--um, what, I can't think of the fund name but there's--I've seen a lot of issues that the entire intent of the issue has been, the whole purpose of it, the legislative attempt has been turned around and has now become absolutely something else. Is completely something else. Uh, the one that comes was the, the firefighters fund that, that's taking a, a levy on your liability, uh, taxes on your Houses and cars and everything else, was to fund the, uh, education process for firefighters and policemen, uh, at Eastern Kentucky State 60:00University and do that so that they better, be better firemen, be better policemen, so that they would, uh, protect your House better and that you'd lose less. And therefore your insurance costs would go down, you know. And it was a great idea and a great bill and everything else, and now it's just, "You're all going to use as a slush fund to fund everything." And, and I predict that they'll be back to increase that fee on your insurance because they've made such a slush fund out of it. It was supposed to have a ten million dollar growth until it reached ten million dollars and then it was supposed to be taken off. And the money was, the tax was supposed to be taken off your insurance. And that was supposed to be self-supporting from then on. And that whole issue changed around to, to feed for everything else. I mentioned the coal severance tax issue that was set out to be for purpose of, one purpose and ended up being used for everything else in the world, uh, that it could've been, that, that, it could've been. 61:00So, I, basically, I guess, I had a problem with the Education Reform Act, which, at one time--there's a person I didn't mention a while ago when we're talking about outstanding people, Kenny Rapier, one of the outstanding people I ever served with and he, he fathered the Education Reform Act in the House and he lead it and he fathered it. And, and he, he was my seatmate. And, uh, he, he was, got in there, and I of course represented, again, the problems(??) in Frankfort with the education department and everything and I was very much for it and did it. But then when they, it actually took place and after it happened, uh, then if you remember correctly, they went to California and brought in the guy from California and did some things and started firing all the people in the department of education that knew anything and, and took, it seemed like they came in with just, took a meat axe to the people that really knew what education in Kentucky needed. And, and just because it hadn't been able to do it, the reason it hadn't been 62:00able to get anywhere(??) --------(??) because they had no money. It wasn't the leadership; we had the leadership in this commonwealth with these people that could do the job if you'd given them the money. So, you know, when we went to California to find the best there was and come in, I'd, I'd just, I absolutely was so frustrated with that vote actually, I probably would've changed my vote had I known that it was going to be that way.

ROMOND: What did you find the most satisfying as an accomplishment during the time that you served?

HANCOCK: I think really that, that there're, there're several, several things I guess, but, but, if you talk about the most, I would say the equalization of government. I think, I think I played a great role in that and, in, in, in coming to that point, I think it was probably the, the highlight that, uh, of the, the change. I think that, um, I, I do feel like that I had a role to play in the, um, um, transportation 63:00system of Kentucky.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

HANCOCK: I had a personal, personal effort was, probably one of the last things I did was a history center in, in, uh, Frankfort. Uh, I put that money and stuff in the budget. I, I took the transportation thing, and this is something that you talk about, what you were able to do for your, your groups. The, there was a great need for the history center. And, the Dr. Tom Clark--

ROMOND: --yes--

HANCOCK: --Dr. Tom Clark and, and a group from the historical society came to my office and sat in my office and ---------(??) about how in the world could they get the history center developed, started--this was under Governor Wilkinson. And, uh, it, it goes back to show that the power that had developed in the legislative branch. Um, and that, in the, in the in the budget document, I took the, there was a new building which had been approved for transportation. It sat right exactly in the back of an area that was, that was an old 64:00planning building. It was more like the old Army barracks, built in that style with open glass and sort of a round roof top and things. And it was, it wasn't suitable, it sat right back of the -------(??) Lieutenant Governor's mansion. So I put some language in the budget that we require that, that land, that building be transferred to the historical society after the Department of Transportation and Planning moved out of it. Prior to that Dr. Clark and them had talked about moving the historical society building down behind the old capitol where the, in an old warehouse down there, that nobody could see or get to or anything else and things. And, and so I basically located where the history center was going to be by that move, putting that in the budget. And then I, then I put an appropriation in the budget of three million dollars to, uh, buy the rest of the land surrounding that 65:00area, so that they could build the historical center right where it is today. And so it'd be right in view of people coming in. And one of the things, I'm, I'm a deep believer that rail transportation has to come back some day. And the rail-, railroad's right there next to this thing and I said that I can envision kids, school buses coming from all over this state on the railway, getting out right there at that history center and going in, and going to the History Center, and doing. Right now they have thousand of buses that go through there, you know. But, uh, that was a great personal achievement for me that I, I have a lot of pride in. Uh, the Vietnam Veterans, uh, uh, Monument, uh, in Frankfort ---------(??), again that's, that's something I've, I've that I was very active in. Uh, and, and feel like with a couple of other people that, uh, uh, fully responsible for getting that thing located. The, the state lab, one of the funny discussions was, is the 66:00state lab in Frankfort--you're--(laughs)--probably not aware of this but, we had another big fight with the, uh, over where, the University of Kentucky decided that they wanted a state lab. And of course I didn't want it to go to the University of Kentucky because that took several constituents out of Frankfort, several employees and things, and some employment things. So, I got in a sort of a battle with UK and Tony Gates was the head of, about where that state lab was going to be located and we finally got through that. So I got, I ended up Fred Bradley, Senator Fred Bradley and myself, ended up working, making sure it got located in Frankfort, and so.

ROMOND: And that's where it is today.

HANCOCK: That's where it is today. Uh, there are, there are things like that but overall, overall, if I looked at one thing I think it had to be the, the, uh, the actually growth of the legislature. As Bill Kenton would say, the people's branch of government.

ROMOND: Uh-hm, bringing about a more balanced power.

67:00

HANCOCK: Right, right.

ROMOND: When you look at politics in Frankfort now and what it was like when you were in office, what are your thoughts?

HANCOCK: Well, I, I think my thoughts, and they were, I guess, they were the same thing then, I'd, as you, you told at the very beginning of this interview, uh, finally a lady walked into me and said, "Why don't you run?" You know, I had no intention of running. Never even entered my mind to get involved in politics. And I guess from that she'd sort of embarrassed me to, to take action instead of taking mouth. And, and, uh, we have so much of that, that, that people don't get involved that we need them to get involved in the, in the system. We need to get involved at the local level and the county level and 68:00the state level, and, and it seems like that we make a system where it's hard for them to do that. ---------(??) involved, so you end up with a naturally, with, um, a, , a power broker group that seem to, to control who's going to run for what office in your communities. And, and that's so bad, and, and when I first went in of course that was absolutely, or I mean, I mean you're really, very few times you just Independent would run for anything that wasn't approved by the county commu-, courthouse group and, and, or the city group and all of that. So, um, that was that way then. I think, unfortunately, that it's still, has a li--not near as bad, not near as bad today, but we still need something to do to get people involved in the political system of, of, of our governance. And in every branch, in every branch, instead 69:00of just sitting back and condemning.

ROMOND: Um-hm.

HANCOCK: So it's, it's, as far as being given, I do think there are more independent people running, I think, it's, it's improved a little bit, but, uh, in, in this last, uh, for example, these last legislative races. With all the people talking about running and all the problems people talked about and the complaints they've got, you still have less than 50 percent of them had opponents, this time. Um, and, and I, I, it's the same thing we, we don't have enough people for a run off in the, in the city commission race. Uh, and I hear that all over, that now that there is no people to running. You have so many, um, local people not, no opposition whatsoever. And it, is that good for our system or is that bad for our system?

ROMOND: Um-hm.

HANCOCK: I think that the different thoughts would require that there is some opposition to give those people some ability to make a choice.

ROMOND: Um-hm, um-hm. If you were starting over now, would you want to 70:00be in office? (Hancock laughs) As a state representative?

HANCOCK: I, yes, I would, I wouldn't, yeah. Yes, I, absolutely, absolutely wouldn't take anything for the experience I had.

ROMOND: So you would do it all over again.

HANCOCK: I, I, I wouldn't take anything for the experience I had and I would do it all over again. I guess there are some things that I would probably, probably do a little bit different. Uh, certainly, I've, I made a big mistake when Bill Kenton suddenly died in office by not going ahead and, and running for the speaker's of-, office at that time. Uh, and, and there are things I would do different, uh, because you, you, you live and learn and I, I hope to, learn to compromise better than, than I did. I would, I would certainly do it over again. Whether I would, after serving the tenure I served, whether I would 71:00go back into it, well, yeah, I don't think so. I, I mean I think I, I think it was good for me; I think I was good for my constituents; I think I did my job; and I don't think I want to go back. (laughs) I mean, it, because I've done it!

ROMOND: Yes, yes. What advice or wisdom would you pass on to somebody who is considering going into politics?

HANCOCK: I, oh, I'd, I'd find myself doing that quite frequently. In fact, I'm honored when somebody comes and talks to me about it. It happens a lot of times. And I, and I do exactly what we talked about a few minutes ago. Said the first thing you do is you sit down with your family. You sit down with your spouse, if you got one and you, you talk very seriously about what's involved with that. You realize what children are and the times you're going to be away from home, and ----- ----(??) and said, when you do all that, said you take into consideration the cost and expense, because these jobs don't pay for what, I mean, 72:00when you put that much time in, into it, they don't pay you for that now. It's much better today, it's much better today and did all of them, but, but they're not really that great pay. If you do the job right, that's what I am saying, believe you me, if you get elected to a position and never do anything, then you're earning too much money.

ROMOND: Right.

HANCOCK: You're earning too much money. I mean and we had that happen. Had that happen, but if the person really gets involved to do the right thing, then, and that, they've got to realize of the financial consequences of what they're doing when they're running. So, we talk those lines, and then I, absolutely, I said, after you talk to your immediate family, your spouse then, said, then your next step is to go to the rest of your family, your rest of your family. Said, a lot of people forget to do this.

ROMOND: You're exposing them all(??).

HANCOCK: But you got cousins and you got uncles and aunts and, and, and other people out there in the community that you might not see all the time. And believe you me, they're your best ally and your best asset, because they're blood. Whether you are not speaking to them or out of 73:00touch with them, or whatever, I said, you go talk to them and tell them what you're doing and that you need their help. And then you, you get rid of that, that they, that, that feeling that somebody say, "Oh yeah! I, he's kind to me, but I wouldn't vote for him for." And--(both laugh) You know, I mean it just, it does, so. And, and you'd be surprised how many times that happens. And, and, and so that, that's the advice I give them: go to the pe-, people, their, their blood kin, and get them on board then, and then, then you simply sit down and talk to your friends, and you get your closest friends, and you get them and you ---------(??) and all. I mean, by this time, these are hurdles you clear before you make the final decision. First decision is with your spouse. You know, you jump that hurdle first. The next decision is with your other family. And the third decision is with your friends. And if at that point, you still got those people willing and understanding and willing to help you with it, then you're a go. Then you're a go. And, and I think that's, I think that's so valuable and 74:00so important. I'm not, I'm not so much on the money issue as so many people are. In fact, I think it's a, I think it's sort of a shame that we have people back out of running because of fear of not having enough money to run. Uh, I think the publicity comes with the ground roots, if they work with the, the ground roots of their, their family and friends, that there's not as, as near as much money as they required, they don't have to be out there spending a lot of money, if they got the people doing the work for them, and, and standing at the, the, uh, shopping centers and handing cards and knocking on doors. And, and all every campaign I was ever in was a door-knocking campaign. I mean it was a door-knocking campaign if you went from and did the work. So I wa--that's, and, done that with an understanding of what it takes away the rest of your life. I, I encourage people all the time to do it.

75:00

ROMOND: Um-hm, um-hm. Is there anything we have not discusses that you'd like to include?

HANCOCK: I don't, I can't think of anything. It's been, it's been a wonderful experience for me to have done. It's, it's all, when you look back on it, it's, it's sort of, of a freak accident that I've ended up in the area, ended up doing the whole thing. And I hope other people have the, wished more people had the opportunity to, to go ahead and do it. And, uh, uh, not hate it. But I, I think what we've talked about--well, one thing we haven't talked about, is, is I am a great believer in people talking to their elected officials about what's on their mind. And, and people have a fear of talking to their elected officials. It's amazing to me. That, that grassroots, it's gaining(??) because when they talk to them, they only talk to them 76:00when there is a particular issue hurting them, or something involving them, or something they directly want, and basic. And, and they, they feel like that they can't go talk to that, that elected official, and I, I, I think that, uh, we need to overcome that fear and, and it's a strong, uh, I think it's' a good course to teach in school myself is, we only teach civics but we don't teach how to, how to really get involved in the parliament. Uh, and I think that we need to explain to people what it takes, uh, how they can affect the system, how they can actually affect the outcome of, of the election, and, and with their help and resources that, uh, they, they need to get more, they get over the problem if they're going to offend somebody by being for certain persons to do that. So, you know, if anything, that's the only thing I know that we didn't talk about.

77:00

ROMOND: Thank you. Thank you for your time and your thoughts.

HANCOCK: Thank you.

ROMOND: Your memory, I really appreciate it and I have really enjoyed it.

HANCOCK: It's been very interesting, very interesting.

[End of interview.]

Search This Transcript
SearchClear