Reflections on Georgia Politics Oral History Collection, ROGP 120 Jimmy PaulkReflections on Georgia Politics Oral History Collection, ROGP 120 Jimmy Paulk

Reflections on Georgia Politics Oral History Collection, ROGP 120 Jimmy Paulk

Descriptive Summary

Title: Reflections on Georgia Politics Oral History Collection, ROGP 120 Jimmy Paulk
Creator Paulk, James L. (Jimmy), 1949-
Dates 2010 September 29
Extent 1.0 interview
Repository Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies
AbstractJames L. Paulk, known as Jimmy, was born March 26, 1949, in Fitzgerald, Georgia. He received a Bachelor's of Business Administration in Management from the University of Georgia in 1972. At the age of 26, Paulk defeated Senator Martin Young, then the longest serving member of the Georgia Senate, to represent as a Democrat the 13th District, which covered Ben Hill, Irwin, Turner Worth, Crisp, Dooley, and part of Tift counties. After leaving office in 1980, Paulk relocated to New York City to work with the National Audobon Society. Paulk discusses his early work in the legislature, the friends he had made in the capitol, and his opinion of party politics in Georgia.

Administrative Information

Custodial History note

Reflections on Georgia Politics began in the fall of 2006 at Young Harris College, as a lecture and discussion program hosted by Georgia political veteran Bob Short. In late 2007, the Richard B. Russell Library began producing the program as an oral history video series to further illuminate and personalize the tectonic shifts that occurred in Georgia politics in the late twentieth century.

Preferred citation

Reflections on Georgia Politics Oral History Collection, ROGP 120, Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Georgia, 30602-1641.


Restrictions

Copyright Information

Resources may be used under the guidelines described by the U.S. Copyright Office in Section 107, Title 17, United States Code (Fair use). Parties interested in production or commercial use of the resources should contact the Russell Library for a fee schedule.


Biographical Note

James L. Paulk, known as Jimmy, was born March 26, 1949, in Fitzgerald, Georgia, to Milton L. Paulk and Madge (Harper) Paulk. Paulk grew up in Fitzgerald and graduated from Woodward Academy in 1967. He received a Bachelor's of Business Administration in Management from the University of Georgia in 1972. While at the university, Paulk represented Georgia in the 1971 White House Youth Conference. During high school and college, Paulk participated in several state political campaigns including Jimmy Carter’s 1970 gubernatorial bid. After college, he returned to Fitzgerald where he opened a small insurance agency and a farm equipment finance company. Additionally, he led in organizing the Bank of Fitzgerald (chartered 1975), of which he was vice president and director. He was president of Colony Growth Inc. and a director of the Paulk Funeral Home, Inc. He was a frequent columnist for the Fitzgerald Herald and Leader.

At the age of 26, Paulk defeated Senator Martin Young, then the longest serving member of the Georgia Senate, to represent as a Democrat the 13th District, which covered Ben Hill, Irwin, Turner Worth, Crisp, Dooley, and part of Tift counties. During his two terms in office, Paulk served on several committees including the Banking, Finance, and Insurance and its Banking and Insurance subcommittee (1979-1980); Community Affairs (vice chair 1979-1980); County and Urban Affairs (1977-1978); Economy, Reorganization, and Efficiency in Government (1977-1978); Human Resources and its Mental Health and Mental Retardation subcommittee (1979-1980); Offender Rehabilitation (secretary) and its Penal and Correctional Institutions subcommittee (1977-1978); and the Senate Study Committee on County Correctional Institutions (chair, 1976-1977). Paulk authored legislation on a Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights and successfully lobbied against the passage of H.R. 453, the Tri-River Compact, an agreement he believed would weaken protection of Georgia’s waterways. Paulk was also known for some of his more light-hearted antics. For example, during his first election campaign, he consumed a spoonful of expired Myrex, a fire ant poison. In honor of Jimmy Carter, he proposed that Georgia be known as the Peanut State. In January 1978, Paulk defended the use of tobacco spittoons in the Georgia Senate chamber and was featured in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, in UPI stories and on local Georgia news programs discussing chewing tobacco.

After leaving office in 1980, Paulk relocated to New York City to work with the National Audobon Society. While there, he developed the Birdathon, a fund-raising event for the organization. In 1983, he resumed his work in the insurance field, first with Prudential Insurance and then in private practice as an independent life broker. That same year, he received his MBA from Columbia University.

Paulk has been involved in a number of civic activities. Beginning in 1976, he served a term on the Georgia Baptist Christian Life Commission. In the 1970s, he was active in the Fitzgerald Jaycees and Rotary Club and was a Shriner, Elk, and Mason. In 2000, he was the vice president of the Manhattan Council, Boy Scouts of America. Paulk remains involved with the University of Georgia. He is a past vice president of the University of Georgia Alumni Association and serves on the University Libraries’ Board of Visitors. Additionally, he was a Distinguished Lecturer/Practitioner for the Terry College of Business. Paulk is also in several New York City area music and arts organizations. A music critic, he served as an associate editor of New Music Connoisseur and as the principal opera critic for 20th Century Music.


Scope and Content

Part 1: Jimmy Paulk recalls growing up in Fitzgerald, Georgia before attending the University of Georgia and interning for Mrs. Phyllis Barrow and Gov. Arnall.

Paulk discusses his decision to run for the State Senate in 1976. He discusses his campaign strategy including slogans, public appearances, and media. Paulk recalls his first votes and how the Senate was run at the time. He describes some existing factions and mentions Culver Kidd, Hugh Gillis, and Zell Miller.

Part 2: Paulk discusses Zell Miller's leadership style and how it conflicted with Speaker Murphy's autocracy. Paulk comments on the variety of constituents he met and recalls his bill to name the peanut as the official state symbol. He recalls his passion for environmental issues and recalls a situation in which he presented a bottle bill that Coca Cola opposed.

Paulk discusses the complicated nature of interstate compacts and how they related to water wars. He reflects on his experience with prison reform and his philosophy regarding county correctional institutions. Paulk comments on the constituent services his office offered.

Part 3: Paulk recalls the circumstances surrounding his decision not to run for reelection, instead taking a job in New York at the National Audubon Society. He reminisces on the attitude in the capitol during his time in office and discusses his work in community organizations.

Paulk comments on the state of the Democratic Party in Georgia and further on party politics in the South.


Related Collections in this Repository

Reflections on Georgia Politics Oral History Collection

James L. (Jimmy) Paulk Papers

James L. (Jimmy) Paulk Papers, Series III. Audiovisual Materials


Access Points

Arnall, Ellis Gibbs, 1907-1992.
Democratic Party of Georgia
Environmental policy--Georgia.
Georgia--General Assembly--Senate.
Gillis, Hugh, 1918-
Kidd, Edwards Culver, Jr., 1914-1995
Miller, Zell Bryan, 1932-
Murphy, Thomas Bailey, 1924-2007
Oral histories.
Prison administration--Georgia.
University of Georgia--Students--History.
Water quality management--Georgia.
Water resources development--Georgia.

Series Descriptions and Folder Listing

 
ROGP 120 Jimmy Paulk video, Part 1 ( 44.0 minutes ) VIEW ONLINE
 
ROGP 120 Jimmy Paulk video, Part 2 ( 32.0 minutes ) VIEW ONLINE
 
ROGP 120 Jimmy Paulk video, Part 3 ( 22.0 minutes ) VIEW ONLINE