Under the Dome

Former Gov. Hunt organizing private, confidential meeting on ‘alternative vision’ for NC

Former Gov. Jim Hunt is organizing a private, confidential meeting on Wednesday with an unknown group of people to help form an “alternative vision and policy roadmap” for North Carolina leaders.

In a letter to invitees, which was obtained by Dome, Hunt says he wants to convene a group to “assess our strengths, weaknesses, challenges and opportunities.”

“I am personally inviting you to join a small group of policy experts, stakeholders, and thought leaders to be part of North Carolina Roadmap 2025.”

Hunt, a Democrat who was North Carolina’s governor from 1977 to 1985 and from 1993 to 2001, wrote that the project is sponsored by Think NC First, a think tank.

Think NC First is run by a board and executive director with ties to Democrats. Its executive director, Justin Guillory, formerly worked in the administration of Gov. Bev Perdue. A recent report from the think tank took aim at current Gov. Pat McCrory’s claim of a “Carolina Comeback,” saying any “comeback” was ignoring falling household incomes.

Officials at Think NC First could not immediately be reached.

Hunt’s invitation asks recipients to attend a meeting at the N.C. Biotechnology Center in Research Triangle Park on Wednesday night. (The biotech center is slated to have all of its funding cut in the Senate budget.)

“No number of moving speeches, witty television ads or campaign cash can change the direction of our state without us first winning the war of ideas,” Hunt wrote. “We must have an alternative vision and policy roadmap for North Carolina’s future leaders and decision-makers.”

Hunt wrote that the state was going backward.

“Many of us feel – and statistics show – that our current path is eroding investments in vital public institutions and erasing decades of hard-won progress that made us a leader in job creation, education and civility,” Hunt wrote.

He said the state “can become a national leader again.”

“Your participation will be private and confidential,” Hunt wrote.

Reached by phone Tuesday, Hunt declined to say who was invited – or who is attending.

“It’s a few people who are interested in the future,” Hunt said. “Some good leading experts on all kinds of issues, including education, economic development, the environment. It’s a private meeting but the ideas will come out in time.”

Hunt said no political fundraising will take place at the event or be associated with it.

He said the meeting springs from a belief that North Carolina can be better, and that a forum is needed for invitees to “talk about what we ought to do.”