Interview with Walter Huntley
QUESTION 3
JACKIE SHEARER:

So why don't you tell me about change in leadership that went on in '74.

WALTER HUNTLEY:

Well, with regard to the leadership change in 1974, I guess the best thing to, to call it, would be to say that it was very, very different. It was new. It was not business as, as usual. And the reason I say that, people always ask, ah, what was the difference between the previous administration and the Jackson administration. And it was radical, unprecedented change for several reasons. One was that we had a new city charter. That, ah, ah, mandated that the new mayor, ah, change the basic governmental structure. We went from a weak mayor form of government to a strong mayor form of government. And ah, that in and of itself was major. We hadn't had a new city charter in I think, um, somewhere around a hundred years. Um, so that, just the organizational change, ah, caused people to have tremendous expectations. In addition to that, um, as I try to think back over where we were during that time, um, I think that the, ah, 8 of the 18 city council members were new to their position. Ah, the city council president, ah, that was getting ready to come into office was new to his position. Ah, the, ah, the council was, ah, half Black and half White almost, which had dynamics to it. Ah, in addition, the mayor was new to his position. Ah, and then you overlay that with the, the issue of race. So you can see that, ah, the, ah, the elements of change were in the air. And in addition, the governmental structure calls for, ah, the separation of weak and, ah, well excuse, executive and legislative branch of government. Ah, it called for a strong executive. Most of Atlanta's mayors had been, ah, strong leaders, but now we were having a form of government that called for the chief executive to, ah, really, ah, take charge and set the tone for government.