The Georgia Political Papers and Oral History Program is comprised of over 3,000 linear feet of archival collections, along with an extensive number of oral history interviews, that document the unique political culture of the state of Georgia.
James "Jim" Roger Westlake, Sr. was born February 11, 1928 in Kansas City, Missouri.He enlisted in the US Navy in 1945 and served on the U.S.S. Cape Gloucester in the Pacific theatre. He was valedictorian when he graduated Summa Cum Laude from Georgia State College with a B.B.A. in 1958 and went on to graduate with an M.B.A. from Georgia State College in 1960. He was the first president of the night school student body under Noah Langdale and president of the Georgia State Alumni Association in 1961-62. In 1974, he completed his Masters in Public Administration at the University of Georgia.; Mr. Westlake was president and owner of Southern Agencies, Inc. insurance company in Atlanta. In 1965, he was elected to the Georgia State Legislature as a representative from DeKalb County, one of four that year that were the first Republicans elected to the State House since Reconstruction. In 1971, he was appointed by Richard Nixon as Regional Deputy Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. He served as Deputy Secretary of the US Department of Commerce from 1976 to 1981. When he retired in 1995, he was a Deputy Administrator of the US Economic Development Administration.; Interviewed by Mel Steely on November 22, 2005 at Westlake's home.; The interview with Westlake begins with a discussion about where he was born and about his enlistment in the Navy at the end of World War II. After serving in the Navy aboard the USS Cape Gloucester, Westlake moved to Georgia to work for Banker's Life and Casualty where his father also worked. Westlake tells of starting his own insurance business in Atlanta in 1949 and then selling it in 1971.; Westlake next discusses his interest in politics which began in the 1950s. He first ran for office in 1964 following reapportionment in Georgia and served as a representative from Dekalb County until 1972. He goes on to talk about his accomplishments while a member of the Georgia Assembly such as changing lobbying laws, drafting a resolution to change the name of Georgia State College to Georgia State University, drafting legislation that allowed Georgia State University to charge admission to its athletic events, and creating a program that reserved 20 seats a year in the Emory Medical School for graduates of Georgia universities. Other legislation Westlake mentions during the interview includes a fiscal responsibility bill and an anti-pornography "smut bill." He briefly mentions his time in the federal government where he served in the Environmental Protection Agency after being appointed by Richard Nixon, the Department of Commerce, and the Economic Development Administration.; During the interview Westlake also gives his thoughts on political figures from Georgia. In regards to George L Smith, Westlake gives a lot of credit for helping him during his first years in the state assembly. He also says that he got along well with Zell Miller and was given an autographed copy of one of his books. Westlake calls Lester Maddox a hard worker who shared many of the same conservative values as the Republican Party.He mentions that he had minimal interactions with Newt Gingrich but that while a professor at West Georgia College Gingrich would always bring students to see him. Westlake calls Jimmy Carter a vindictive partisan who disapproved of his move to the federal government. Finally, Westlake mentions that he thinks George W. Bush is an honest and faithful man who he supports.; The interview ends with Westlake asking the interviewer, Dr. Steely, about the Georgia Political Heritage Program. Dr. Steely tells Westlake how the program got started with interviews of Herman Talmadge. They then discuss funding of the program and how it works. The interview concludes with Westlake providing Dr. Steely additional names of people to interview.